G! Festival 2008

A fundraiser for the Faroe Islands' bankrupt music event.

Music Incoming
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Between Scotland and Iceland there's another country. That's right - a proper nation with their own flag and language and culture. It's not their fault they were a Danish colony for years; or that there are only 50,000 of them; or that some people in the UK are ignorant.

The Faroe Islands are an archipelago of 18 islands, battered and weathered by the North Atlantic. Travel to the Islands is limited. For starters, there are only two flights from London a week. And, as some Man City supporters recently found, it's simply not possible to canoe from Scotland. But get on one of those coveted flights and you're there - well, as long as you can find a way from the airport.

The Islands' big music event is the G! Festival, but last year the festival overstretched itself by booking Natasha Bedingfield and went bankrupt. But, rather than wimp out of the festival scene, never to be seen again, the Faroese decided to show Europe that they can still party - even if they can't afford to pay any of the artists. The G! Mini is essentially a fundraiser to help the organisers get back on their feet and keep up everyone's spirits for next year. And that it did.

Over two nights (nothing gets started until dinner time) the best musicians from the Faroe Islands played in front of a mixed crowd. We're told everyone's a singer or musician because there's nothing much to do when growing up on the Islands. There are no international stars at the G this year but the organisers easily find two nights worth of music among home-grown talent.

The main stage is positioned on an AstroTurf pitch - there's even some people playing football when we arrive on the Saturday. Metal bands and singer-songwriters are well received by the mixed crowd braving the cold. Boys in a Band thrill the audience as they complete their, possibly record-breaking, 24 gigs in 24 hours. Orca is the main highlight of the night as they mesmerise the crowd with the beautiful music produced by their homemade instruments.

The aptly named "Ground Zero" stage tries to bring a little bit of dance culture to the Faroe Islands. The audience isn't quite big enough and there is too long between sets but the derelict building is brightened up by neon paint and has a majestic seafront - no, make that seashore - setting. Mark Ronson lookalike B.A.B.Y. spins some classic tunes while James James plays some Ed Banger electro that wouldn't be out of place in a London club.

As the night wears on, and twilight appears, the temperatures drop even further.  The Faroese appear impervious to the cold; maybe it's those amazing woollen jumpers they wear. After a long wait the queen of the Faroese music scene, Eivör Pálsdóttir, takes to the stage. Her eclectic music has a primal quality that the home crowd loves and she plays tracks from her most recent album as well as new material. We finally succumb to the cold before the end of Eivör's set and decide to let our long suffering guide take us home and to bed.
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