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bluedot Festival, Jodrell Bank, Cheshire 7-9 July 2017
09/07/17Standing in the shadow of the Lovell Telescope, bluedot Festival returns for the second year. Over this balmy summer weekend, festival goers land at Jodrell Bank, (the Cheshire observatory at the cutting edge of humanity’s quest for knowledge), bluedot for a three day intergalactic journey of discovery that combines live music and science with artists, speakers, scientists and performers.
The line-up for this year includes some big hitters in the world of music with Leftfield (Playing Leftism in full), Pixies, Orbital, ALT-J, Radiophonic Workshop, The Moon Landingz, Hannah Peel’s Tubular Brass, Post War Glamour Girls, Josefin Ohrn & The Liberation, Warpaint, Soulwax, plus DJ’s Yoda and Andrew Weatherall and a day of events and music (Saturday) dedicated to Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, composer of ‘Dr Who’ theme amongst many other BBC themes and jingles.
Professor Tim O’Brien hosted a range of talks and presentations about a range of science subjects, plus a whole range of events across the scientific, literary and arts communities with talks, screenings, lectures, comedy, sci-fi movie showings (Forbidden Planet, Rogue One and Contact) and a talk with Dave Prowse (aka Darth Vader) and many more. There is so much going on, you’d need two weekends to even begin to make a start on getting round to experience everything.
Professor Tim O'Brien
The Luminarium returns this year, plus art installations, ‘Jedi’ training school, the planetarium, and much more as well as an extensive programme of family entertainment offering ‘kids’ of all ages the chance to enjoy an variety of specially designed science shows, an array of surprising and interactive workshops, meet and greets with science superhero’s and much, much more.
Friday afternoon opened up with poet Tony Walsh on the main stage (Lovell Stage) followed by Meilyr Jones, Jane Weaver, The Moon Landingz playing a wild set after lead singer James Blunt giving an impromptu blessing to the front row at the barrier of crackers and wine. Ezra Furman and The Boyfriends, then 6Music’s Marc Riley playing a DJ set before the final set of the day by Pixies, plundering their back catalogue for a massive crowd pleasing set.
The Moon Landingz
Over at the Orbit Stage (massively increased in size from last year) late addition to the line-up, Leftfield (hot off their recent tour) played their 1995 groundbreaking album ‘Leftism’ in its entirety. The massive tent could not contain the numbers of people wanting to witness this set and crowds stood outside the entrances to be part of the action. This for me was Friday’s highlight, a supreme performance with brilliant visuals, with crowd with them every step of the way. This was a ‘proper’ festival show in every sense, which had timing allowed, should have been up on the main Lovell stage.
A blazing hot Saturday saw a packed main arena in the sunshine, with lots of colourful people decorated with face and body paints and so much glitter, the field was shimmering.
On the Lovell Stage, poet Tony Walsh, opened up again, followed by Hannah Peel (John Foxx and The Maths member) and her Tubular Brass ensemble, playing a very chilled set of music including Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’ with a brass band and lots of synth. Post War Glamour Girls followed with Toothless and Boxed In, before Shura performed, all providing a great warm up for Goldfrapp early in the evening, who performed a stunning set of songs from ‘Black Cherry’ right up to current date. Alison’s vocal was crystal clear, and could be heard perfectly across the site, and from 200 yards away back at the Press Office. ‘Strict Machine’ sounded amazing even from so far away.
Hannah Peel's Tubular Brass
Post War Glamour Girls
Radiophonic Workshop hit the Orbit Stage early on in the evening to a packed tent, and then made a surprise appearance later on in the evening.
The final act of the night on the Lovell Stage was Orbital, 1990’s dance pioneers, elevated high on stage behind some LED displays covering the desk, sporting their trademark head torches. They were so high up, from our shooting position, you could just about see their heads. The set was terrific, and the crowd ecstatically danced/raved along with the hits including ‘Chime’, but also ‘Dr Who’ theme, with members of Radiophonic Workshop donning head torches and joining them on stage. Even the pit security guys got in on the act. Usually standing with their back to the stage, motionless and expressionless, observing the crowd during a show, one guy was obviously into the music. He stood with his back to the stage with a huge grin on his face and was moving along in time to the music, when all of a sudden he threw his arms into the air with a big ‘Yeah!!”, I wouldn't blame him, when Orbital were playing, you just had to move.
Sunday was a much quieter day, and with all the Saturday day ticket holders no longer around, the crowd was much reduced and a lot more chilled. Lovell Stage hosted bands such as Senegalese band Diabel Cissokho, Ten Fe, Josefin Ohrn & the Liberation (much promoted by BBC 6Music) and Flamin-Gods.
Orbit Stage saw Darth Vader himself (Dave Prowse) on stage, Dave looking very frail and with difficulty walking (having to be helped into his chair), but speaking about his career with great affection from the audience, and a massive queue to meet the man afterwards.
Girl Sweat Temple Ritual Band dressed in blood red and orange robes, performed their psychedelic music whilst looking very mystical on stage.. I was waiting for someone to be brought up to be sacrificed, but it didn't happen. Anna Meredith played a great set with Brass, Cello, Bass, Drums and synth.
Girl Sweat Temple Ritual Band
Warpaint and Whyte Horses Experience started the early evening line up with a line of clowns in plastic macs sitting at the front of the stage, who got up danced at times through their set. Warpaint, warming up for their Somerset House show on Monday 10th July, and ALT-J closing the main stage with tracks old and new from their latest album ‘Relaxer’ with a very hi-tech crisp LED laden stage set, simply beautiful.
Whyte Horses Experience
The final act over at Orbit was Hawkwind (yes, they of ‘Silver Machine’ fame), still rocking at 70+, but the musicc kept on till early morning.
The second bluedot Festival was a massive success, helped by a beautiful summer’s weekend and great crowds. Bluedot showed us old bands and new bands, bringing us together with music and education and fun and taught us about this pale blue dot (as described by Carl Sagan) that we all live on, and three days was simply not enough time to take it all in.
Thank You bluedot, you've been Out Of This World, see you next year.
More photos can be found on our flickr page