BREVIEW: Digbeth Dining Club 3rd Birthday @ Spot*light, 21/08/15

Digbeth Dining Club - By Ed King

Words by Helen Knott / Pics from Ed King

In recent years there have been a number of newspaper and web articles hyping up Birmingham’s food scene. The story stays pretty consistent: the city has four Michelin-starred restaurants (that’s four more than Leeds, Liverpool DDC logoand arch-nemesis Manchester), is home to the Balti Triangle and Cadbury, and has apprently ‘established a strong reputation’ for street food.

And it’s this street food scene that we’ve gathered here to enjoy today, as Digbeth Dining Club (DDC) celebrates its third birthday. If you’ve never been to DDC before the idea is pretty simple; every Digbeth Dining Club - By Ed KingFriday night, founders Jack Brabant and James Swinburne invite food traders to pitch up in the courtyard of Spot*light – one of the Rainbow Venues. On a normal week there are six different stalls, all tucked away under a railway arch down a Digbeth side street. A few times a year they also host larger events featuring DJ sets and live performances.

Tonight is DCC‘s third birthday; one of these larger events. There are more than twice as many stalls as usual and the road has been closed off to create a bigger space. The traders offer an array of different cuisines: Thai, Mexican, Greek… pies, pizza, pancakes… barbequed, baked, braised… and despite all that choice, all I’ve really got my heart setDigbeth Dining Club - By Ed King on is a burger. It takes a bit of time to find them, but eventually we end up at The Meat Shack, who, it seems, make burgers so popular that they don’t need to bother with branding. They know that us discerning burger fanatics will sniff them out, sign or no sign.

This being DDC, the burgers on offer are pretty far removed from those run of the mill burger vans you encounter on roadsides. I end up with a 100% Hereford beef burger, on locally sourced brioche Digbeth Dining Club - By Ed Kingbread, accompanied by a locally produced slice of cheese. And it’s pretty tasty. The beef is juicy and smoky, the bread is soft and moist, the cheese is smooth and creamy and the relish cuts through everything with a refreshing sharpness. Be prepared for the grease though. This is a burger so greasy that standing next to the stall doesn’t steam my friend’s glasses up, it greases them up. Lovely.

But pleasant as the burger was, I’m not convinced that it was worth the ridiculously long wait. Yes, queues are a nice opportunity to chat to strangers, catch up on a bit of iPhone admin, plot how to take over the world; but a half hour wait for a burger is way too long. I actually don’t care about watching it get cooked in front of my eyes – I see enoughDigbeth Dining Club - By Ed King of that sort of thing cooking my own dinner every night. Unless the cooking process is particularly theatrical, (and I’m talking naked flames and go go dancers) I just want the food to be ready for me to eat as quickly as possible.

Queuing is a regular bugbear for me at DDC. You queue to get in, queue for food, for drinks, for the toilet… even making your way through the packed crowd involves a certain type of Digbeth Dining Club - By Ed Kingpseudo queuing. If queuing were an Olympic sport it could find its home here, such is the variety and volume of queuing opportunities on offer. But I know, it’s a Friday night, I need to relax and go with the flow. And if relaxing and going with the flow needs to happen while stood in a queue, well so be it.

After the burger I duck outside the bustle for a quick chat with DDC’s Jack. He’s a friendly chap, rightfully proud of his hard work over the past few years. He explains that DDC currently works with around 40 traders, who have to go through “rigorous tests” to be added to the books. He explains, “It’s not just aboutDigbeth Dining Club - By Ed King the food, it’s about the personality, the social media and how they sell themselves as traders as well. We always look for people who have the complete package.” In return, the traders have access to some healthy crowds and benefit from being associated with DDC, which Jack describes as a “badge of honour”.

Jack seems to have a knack for picking quality food too; a number of stalls, including Fybin & Loin and The Vegan Grindhouse, have recently started residencies with local venues, while others, such as Original Patty Men, have gone on to win national awards. For Jack DDC is not just about quality of the food, Digbeth Dining Club - By Ed Kinghowever, but also the feeling of togetherness that sharing food can create: “You can mingle with people of different age ranges and backgrounds. Birmingham is such a multicultural city, but you can come here and have something that represents your background. Everyone is welcome.”

Jack has more partnerships, with people such as the Hare & Hounds and Birmingham City University, in the pipeline – hopefully sseeing DDC pop up in other spots around the city. He’s even looking Digbeth Dining Club - By Ed Kingfurther afield, at the possibility of setting up similar events in other cities. Most importantly, Jack wants to do “more of this, where people can just embrace a good time and have a good evening out”.

I certainly did have a good evening, and as I wander home I think perhaps those articles about Birmingham’s food scene aren’t just hype after all. Maybe our food scene is ‘one of the best in the country’. Maybe people like Jack are ‘leading the way’. And hey, if not, well at least we’re getting some pretty good burgers out of it.

For more on Digbeth Dining Club, visit

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FEATURE: Folk of Boomtown

Butterfly screen break - lr - smEd’s note… The call went out, ‘we’re looking for musicians to do festival reportage…’ and after a thousand requests for Glastonbury tickets, we found Katherine Priddy – curious about Boomtown. We were curious too.

Birmingham Review had covered Katherine Priddy at both a Folk for Free gig and supporting Scott Matthews, and I liked the idea of sending a Folk artist to a predominately bass heavy event. So I saved a double page spread for Katherine’s Folk of Boomtown report, in our Winter Edition; to run about 800 words along with candid snaps from the disposable cameras.

Not a chance. After a serious darling slaughter I managed to edit it down to around the 1400 mark, squeezing the pics into the header.  But the full report, at well over 2,000 words, is absolutely worth some attention. Enjoy.

For the full Flickr of pics, click here



Folk of Boomtown (full disclosure)
Words & pics by Katherine Priddy

Promoted as both ‘the UK’s maddest city’ and ‘family friendly’, Boomtown is as promotionally incongruous as it is popular; selling out this year’s increased capacity with comparable ease. But is it all Ketamine kids or Fabric families? It’s dark, edgy, bass based line ups don’t appear to be an appropriate playground for actual children.

But well attended it certainly is, with the festival’s flair for theatrics enticing thousands more ‘residents’ each and every year – many mirroring the ‘show’ with their own anarchy and costumes. Birmingham Review armed Katherine Priddy with some disposable cameras, a diary and enough disco glitter to face the madness of Matterley Bowl.

Read her full four day account below:

Shaved head Boom Town - LEAD IMAGE (portrait) - lrTHURSDAY

A small car has driven past, stuffed with bags and teenagers – one leaning out the window wearing a rainbow afro and a very large, very false moustache.  There can be no doubt as to his destination.

After 2hrs the gates have opened. There is a mad dash; one steward asks some boys to move. They refuse. He backs away apologising.

I’ve just overheard one steward’s walkie talkie: “There’s an unconscious woman…what do we do?” It’s less than reassuring.

I have just spent an hour watching a group of teens wrestle with their tent and incompetence. The campsite is filling up, with people, excitable cheers, the odd air horn and the unmistakable sound of nitrous oxide being released into balloons. There are loads of people hugging, and all round I hear “remember last year when…”

The teenagers are still constructing their tent. I wonder whether I should intervene.

The tent is up. Should I tell them that the fly sheet is back to front?

A few stages are beginning to play music, although tonight is a mere teaser and will be finishing early. I walk down a very steep hill and find myself in the Hidden Woods… at least… I think it’s a wood…  The area is decked out to look like a beach, complete with sandy floor, beach style bars and lanterns. People are already getting down and funky to Dub and I feel the urge to dance for the first time that day. All around me is the sound of nitrous oxide balloons and a strong smell of weed.

The entire cast of Mario Kart just walked past me.

Old Town, the Gypsy & Pirate District –had a little skank to Ushti Baba and notice a man with the ‘Boomtown’ shaved into the back of his head. He turns to me with vacant eyes and shouts “BEST DAY OF MY LIFE”. It’s only Thursday.

On the way back to my tent I’m pulled into a room disguised as a giant cat, then dressed up as a pimp – complete with fur coat, money in cleavage and a large fake gun. It was…strange, but brilliant.


FRIDAYButchers of Boom (landscape) - lr

I can hear a universal groan around the campsite. I emerge from my tent like a hungry beast from its lair, to seek out some bacon.

There are signs everywhere telling people to avoid Ketamine, as a young girl has already died. But rejuvenated by my successful bacon hunt, I stumble sleepily into the Hidden Woods and meet a young lad in a tracksuit and cap, tinkling happily to himself on a piano set up in the corner. I find a nice tree trunk to sit on and wait for the Tribe of Frog Psytrance.

Change of plan. After bumping into Zach (a young dreaded guy I met at Nozstock), I’m being dragged away to watch Julian Marley at the The Lion’s Den.  The stage is enormous, and looks like an Aztec temple.

I want to introduce ‘Karta’, who is ridiculously stoned and just jumped the fence. I ask him what made him so keen to enter Boomtown, he smirks and says he just came to sell laughing gas canisters. Can’t knock his honesty I suppose.

Karta sees my notebook and asks if he can write something in it.  The results were the words ‘wallys’, ‘hippy’, ‘green’, ‘wu’ and ‘brown’. I suppose only Karta will ever know their significance, and as I leave lights up another and leans back sleepily against a fence. He’s probably still there.

Hand writing, thumb (portrait) - lr1:30pm
Just had a run in with the ‘Herbaceous Barbers’ in Old Town – attaching wheatgrass to people’s heads, creating wonderful (and edible) grass hair dos. They show the hydroponics, all very inventive – although apparently “a shitemare to get down from Glasgow”.

Shit, is that really the time? I have fallen foul to the time-stopping Psytrance of Tribe of Frog.

7:15 PM 
Whilst enjoying a German sausage (insert crude euphemism here) I’m interrupted by a man working on a dance off team, who explains Boomtown’s crowd are “feisty but honest”.

There’s a man dressed as a vagina with a mask that makes him look like he’s emerging from a vagina with plastic vaginas stuck on his giant vagina costume. And he’s wrestling someone dressed as an OAP and someone pretending to be pregnant. I don’t know what to say.People fishing #1 (portrait) - lr

I’m watching an excellent pirate band called Seas of Mirth. Then the ‘district Councillor’, Cap’n Francisco, appears in tights and a crab suit – the bright stage lighting silhouetting his gentleman’s purse in all its glory. He leaps from the stage to attack the crowd with his crab claws, before being wrestled to the ground by a band member. Unexpected, but highly enjoyable.

I’m now watching people go human fishing, dangling rods off a roof with sweets attached. Wonderful.


Porn Brokers - Cash for Gash (landscape) - lrSATURDAY

Just woken up. In another tent. Before you jump to unseemly conclusions, I should explain what happened last night.

After leaving Old Town Theatre things got pretty weird pretty quickly. Before I knew it, I found myself back in Tribe of Frog, bestowed with orange paint by a fat Frenchman.

Then I met Aaron. Then I met Aaron’s friends. We headed to Mayfair Avenue, the district dedicated to Electro Swing, and found the Mayfair Hotel. After signing our names in the guest book we spotted a big golden bed full of strangers, where we could snuggle in and watch the music.

Leaving Mayfair, we headed to Arcadia – a giant, fire spouting, mechanical spider with a DJ playing inside the body while its legs move and ravers beneath have their eyebrows taken off by the flame throwers. The music wasn’t my cup of tea, and the pill heads who kept bumping into me were frustrating, but I stayed in their campsite to avoid the enormous, leg breaking trek back up the hill to Old Town.

Having just woken up, I’m on a search for life-giving bacon amongst a doleful crowd of dejected looking party zombies. The tenacity of hippies.

Just had a spontaneous game of knife throwing with some staff on a Camping stall, aiming tent pegs and scissors at a crudely drawn cardboard target.

I’ve found some shade in the Hidden Woods, and just met a VERY DRUNK ‘Sam and Joe’s Anything Goes Carpenting Company’. They rate the festival 8/10, and told me they’ve been here for ‘months’. Somehow I doubt it.

Police Rave Unit sighted; playing techno from their pimped up police van, they drive around setting up spontaneous raves throughout the festival. A genius idea.Police Rave Unit (landscape) - lr

I’ve just witnessed a man dressed as Pavarotti, miming along to opera music from speakers concealed in his fat suit to rapturous applause. I write this by a group of synchronised swimmers, currently doing their routine on the grass.

Down at Arcadia for a dance; the spider’s not as big in daylight. DJ Die is fantastic. The people I’m with start a limbo competition.

The music’s descended into seriously filthy bass. When fire spurts out of the spider it’s a little frightening, particularly being so close. There’s a sense of solidarity amongst the Boomtown inhabitants, but the undercurrent of sinister is ever present.

Watching the High Focus Showcase at Poco Loco – absolutely rammed with eyes rolling around in their sockets. The sweaty and somewhat angsty atmosphere is unbearable. We can’t stay here any longer.

I’m back in bed at the Park Hotel in Mayfair Avenue, talking to a woman confessing her concerns about the hard drug use. She leaves and gets replaced by a young woman transfixed by my boobs. After returning her to her slightly crestfallen boyfriend, we leave before becoming accidently involved in an orgy.

Another demonstration of the slightly darker side of Boomtown; we return from Mayfair to find a small riot going on, one man being restrained by three policemen whilst his friends kick up a hysterical fuss. I’m nearly run down by a riot van. Boomtown feels volatile, exciting and edgy. I wouldn’t want to walk around on my own.

After forcing our bodies to scale the hill up to The Lion’s Den, find lots of fire pits have been lit in the woods.  There’s no music playing, but people are snuggled up happily – talking or staring vacuously into the flames. My head’s nodding. The animal is tamed. I need sleep.


Sky#1 (portrait) - lrSUNDAY

No specified time
I am, possibly, dying.  The combination of indulgence, dancing and treks up the Boomtown hill have rendered me a broken woman. Therefore I have made the executive decision to collapse, and to conserve what little vitality I have left for the last day of Boomtown.  My body hates me.

I make it out of my tent and lie on the grass, blinking blearily in the afternoon sun, watching Bad Manners and dying quietly. A Boomtown martyr.  Around me people throw extravagant shapes. One man flaps his bingo-wings in pride as ‘Lip Up Fatty’ is introduced with the call “Who’s a fatty? We love the fatties.” I am not in the mood to love anything, but eventually manage a skank.

After a quick detour to Tribe of Frog (I couldn’t resist) I’m at the Town Centre main stage – tipped off that a Swedish band Hoffmaestro & Chraaare are worth the watch. It’s the best live set I’ve seen in years, with absolutely fantastic showmanship (I may be slightly swayed by the hot lead singer pouring water erotically over himself and rolling his hips).  An inspired set, I must catch them when they come to London later this year.

At the bar in Barrio Loco, in the Latino district, we notice a small, partially concealed corridor. Exploring further we find ourselves in a secret tequila bar; two men play music on a trumpet and battered piano, whilst women in flamenco style dresses drift suggestively around the small room.

One of the ladies approaches, me batting her eyelashes and asking how much money I have and how she knows how to please a woman. Possibly an actresses adding to the atmosphere, but when she gets her nipples out and starts demonstrating (with graphic tongue and hand movements) the best way to please a woman, I feel she’s going above and beyond the call of duty.

Another lady approaches my friend, telling them about “a secret game” in another room with “space at the table” for us. Before having time to think, we’re shoved through a tiny door and into an even tinier room – where three men sit dressed as Mexican gangsters, swigging tequila and playing cards. We sit down and start to play a card game with no rules, with the dealer talking Spanish, doing tequila shots and offering us lines of salt. I am not sure what’s going on, but I like it.

Maybe it’s because it’s the last night, but Boomtown is excelling in insanity. At one point I find myself in a cage surrounded by naked ladies decked out in Mexican Day of the Dead face paint. At another, I’m in a fully functioning gypsy caravan driven by a gentleman in a top hat and tails.Last Aid (landscape) - lr

A normal, battered old caravan, parked up against one of the walls, turns out to be a secret entrance into yet another secret venue.  And after up running up the Bank of Mayfair steps, and spinning in circles round the Funkington Manor Gardens, we end up at the Last Aid; where, instead of receiving plastic surgery and amputations (as threatened), we’re immersed in an intense atmosphere of writhing bodies and dirty bass.

I’m so incredibly ready to party ‘till morning, but alas, it is over; we’re faced with barriers, stewards and a distinct lack of music.

One steward informs us (with a bitterly smug smile on her face, I can’t help noticing) that the licence ends at midnight. The party is over. It is done. In a state of shock and misery we head up to The Lion’s Den, only to find the fire pits that were there the night before have been doused. Instead we sit on the ground with a lovely couple from Devon, who came with their three adult sons.

Hipster Death Squad (portrait) - lrThe stereotypical hippie mama tells me that she’s loved the festival but thought there was a “sinister undertone” and she found the atmosphere “weird” at times. Sinister and weird, words I’ve been using too.

Back in the tent I hear three men in the tent shouting into the silent campsite. They escalate from “anyone got any ganja?” to “anyone got any crack?”, then “anyone got any heroin?” – before ending with “anyone got a needle?”.

After a lack of response from the campsite at large, the final “Never mind, I’ll just shove it up my urethra” is called over stifled giggles. Goodnight Boomtown.


MONDAYCrashed car (landscape) - lr

Home time
The ‘maddest city’ has sucked us in and burped us out. Its helpless inhabitants; stripped of our dignity, our composure and for many, our marbles.  The pills and powders are finally wearing off, the fog has lifted, and people are staggering out of the gates – blinking at the outside world as though they have just woken up after a four day long dream. Boomtown (or perhaps now Boomcity) is anarchic, edgy and sometimes volatile, but wonderfully mad.

All round me now I hear “same time next year…” and I may well be returning, to see what strange encounters and ideas next year’s crowd bring. After all there are more of them now, which helps – Boomtown’s not a place I’d want to walk around on my own.

At the time of writing, all 5,000 Tier 1 tickets for Boomtown 2014 had already sold out. For more festival info, visit

FEATURE: In The Further Soil, report from Mumbai

In The Further Soil, courtesy of British Council India

SAMPAD, the Birmingham based proliferators of South Asian music, arts and dance, have teamed up with the British Council India in an internationally reaching agenda of cross collaboration.

In The Further Soil is an original piece of musical theatre, directed by Harmage Singh Kalirai and devised by Indian and UK artists, that celebrates the rich cultural heritage spanning the two nations. Touring both India and the UK this autumn/winter, In The Further Soil will establish a platform of opportunities for musicians and artists from both territories, creating a bridge between arguably the world’s most influential (UK) and potentially lucrative (India) music and arts markets. The Birmingham Observer met with SAMPAD founder Piali Ray OBE for an exclusive interview at In The Further Soil’s final production in Mumbai.

Piali Ray, photo by Ian Reynolds

“The show aims to reflect how traditional and contemporary arts, from both India and England, can mix creatively”, say Ray. “We didn’t want to produce something that just concentrates on traditional music and dance, that would be like taking coals to Newcastle, we wanted to showcase what can be achieved by bringing this collage of skills and talent together and performing it in a modern environment.” Before closing in Mumbai, In The Further Soil was performed in Delhi and initially Calcutta, Piali Ray’s home city. “I was terrified of the opening show in Calcutta,” admits Ray, “it’s where I was born and a lot of people there still don’t fully understand what I have achieved in the UK. We had a packed opening show, we even had to put up a screen outside so the extra people could see, but thankfully it came together beautifully and the response was incredible.” Apart from a trail by her peers, what motivated Ray to put SAMPAD’s weight behind the production? “I get very excited by whole the creative process,” says Ray, “it’s being able to have an idea like this, put it into motion and then see it exist that I love. We created something really different, and it worked. That’s the biggest success to me.”

In The Further Soil was inspired by the writings of Bengali poet, novelist, painter and Nobel Prize for literature winner, Rabindranath Tagore. Written solely by its cast, it follows the journey of five individuals from various cultural backgrounds, riding a train together and exploring the issues of fear, suspicion, similarity and understanding.

Repertory Theatre actress Shelly King leads the show’s narrative with dancers Anusha Subramanyam and Sanjukta Ray reflecting the story in grace and movement. Ratul Shankar Ghosh and Dibyendu Mukherji provide a strong musical backdrop through percussion and guitar, with Birmingham’s Soweto Kinch adding his distinctive blend of Jazz saxophone and rhyming lyrics.

“It’s been amazing,” says Kinch, “tiring and exhausting but a fantastic experience. I’ve never performed in India before and I didn’t know what to expect, but the reception has been incredible. People seemed to really respond to the combination of styles and appreciate what we were trying to achieve.”

Outside of In The Further Soil, Kinch performed alongside Mukherji and Ghosh, at Mumbai’s fiercely independent Blue Frog music venue. He also held musical workshops for the slum children in Mumbai, many of who were in attendance at the final performance. Kinch is now exploring the possibility of recreating the Flyover Show, his annual community festival held underneath the Hockley flyover in Birmingham, in Dharavi, Asia’s biggest slum dwelling and the backdrop for Danny Boyle’s film Slumdog Millionaire.

In The Further Soil is part of the British Council India’s Connections Through Culture project, one of its ongoing initiatives to increase opportunities for musicians and artists between India and the UK. “We’re focused on building a cultural bridge,” says Tasneem Vahanvaty, Head of Film, Music & Interaction for the British Council India & Sri Lanka, “to create unique and special productions that bring Indian and UK artists together. We’re building an atmosphere of cultural exchange, one that could be seen as a risk to commercial event managers, Our only criteria is quality, we want to showcase the best artists we can.”

In The Further Soil finishes touring the UK this winter, performing at the MAC in Birmingham on Oct 22nd. With further collaborations being planned from both the organisers and performers involved in the show, SAMPAD and the British Council India are encouraged by the ‘legacy’ they can see unfolding. SAMPAD itself is in planning stages for a new production to parallel the 2012 Olympics in London called Moving Earth. A significant dance production involving twenty groups of twelve performers each, the show is again set to create a wealth of opportunities for artists looking to join a growing Anglo-Indian bohemia.

For more details on this and other projects visit or

FEATURE: The festival effect, what happens when the crowds come to town

The Big Chill 2010, photo by Sam Colman

Since the 1960’s the music festival phenomenon has been taking over UK summers. From Glastonbury to The Secret Garden, promoters battle it out across an increasingly competitive market, convincing thousands of punters to pay the price of a holiday for a few days in a field. But what of the people next door? The small towns and communities that large events impinge upon? The Birmingham Review pitched up at a few of the region’s major contenders to find out.

“Global Gathering is the only event worth going to around here,’’ says Tilly, manageress of The Red Lion in Stratford, “most of our staff want to go so our main problem is juggling rotas.”

It’s Sunday afternoon in Stratford, a tourist hotspot with permanently busy weekends, and the last of the ‘culture crowd’ are out walking by the river. A few miles away 55,000 extra visitors negotiate their way out of Global Gathering, the UK’s largest dance music festival, run annually on the Long Marston Airfield since 2000. But does it affect the town’s more traditional tourist trade? “You get a few idiots in,” says Sheena from Sainsbury Local, “more kids messing about and more shop lifters. But we get much more regular trade too, it’s good for business.”

Over in Herefordshire, Ledbury plays host to regular events at Eastnor Castle. The largest of which is The Big Chill festival, attracting 35,000 people to the historic site each August. “Ledbury needs The Big Chill,” states one hotelier, “about 40% of our August trade comes from that one event. The town would suffer without it.” A view reflected by Annette Crowe, co-owner of Ledbury jewellers Past & Present and chair of the town’s newly formed Business Association. “We’d encourage more interaction with the festival organisers,” says Crowe, “we’d like to establish a shuttle bus service to bring people from the site into town. We’d also like to get more local people employed at the festival, as stewards or suppliers.”

Back in Birmingham and Moseley prepares itself for an inner city festival that’s achieving international recognition. Organisers of the Moseley Folk Festival are launching a membership initiative for the privately maintained site that hosts the event. New patrons can save between 50% off Moseley Park’s current £40 annual fee by registering at the festival.

Promoter Gerv Havill says, “Our events have helped raise the profile of the park, but it’s upkeep costs money. We agreed with the park trustees to offer membership discounts at our events.”

But is this just a move to counteract local contention? Organisers reportedly ruffled a few feathers when officially licensing the site in 2005.

I’m always amazed by how quickly the grounds recover after big events and I’ve not heard anyone criticise the Trust,” says Fiona Adams, chair of the Moseley Society, “ we love opening the ice house during big festivals.”

Chair of the Moseley Forum, Esther Boyd, adds, “I think the events are great. They draw people to the area and no doubt help raise much needed funds for the park’s upkeep.”

Information on each event can be found at their respective websites;,,

REPORT: Global Gathering’s decade dissection

Global Gathering 2009 - courtesy of AMG

A decade of Global Gatherings has seen everything from the red arrows to a parachuting hamster land at Long Marston. Celebrating double figures this July, headline acts Dizzee Rascal and Faithless join the world’s DJ fraternity for another round with the UK’s dance music festival heavyweight. Now twice as long and three times as big, the Birmingham Review caught up with the original GG promoters to see what life was like when it was all nothing but fields…

“When we decided to do Global Gathering a lot of the other festivals didn’t understand their punters,” says Chris Griffin, co-founder of Godskitchen, the Birmingham based superclub that spawned Global Gathering. “It was all about booking the biggest headliner and who’s got the biggest cheque book. We were better at knowing what people wanted back then.” 25,000 people agreed, selling out Global’s 2001 debut amidst an onslaught of bad industry omens.

“When we started everyone said you won’t pull it off, you won’t get the license,” says GK’s other half Tyrone De Savery, “DJs refused to play. They thought we’re not getting behind it, there’s three festivals already.” GG launched the same year a well known London club held a festival at Knebworth, “our first Global went head to head with the Ministry of Sound,” says Chris, “I think they ended up losing about a million quid”.

Originally promoted as a ‘pure DJ event’, Global Gathering was supported by the (frankly) fanatical Godskitchen fanbase, but it takes more than an army of angel tattoos to fill a festival. “In 2001 we distributed 1million promotional booklets,” says Ryan Matthews, Global’s original head of promotions, “and 1.5million the second year. We put a flyer on every car window and a poster on every lamppost in the country. We absolutely hammered it.”

And 10 years young Global’s legacy continues, albeit a more mature mash up than it’s “ravers in a field” original. But will it last? “Global should go from strength to strength,” say’s Ryan,” as long as they don’t pick stupid artists and charge too much money”.

Well that’s alright then, Happy Birthday Global Gathering. Hand me that flyer again..?