Thom Yorke delivers a stunning solo performance on Friday at Big Chill

The Big Chill 2010 review

published: Wed 11th Aug 2010

Thom Yorke

Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th August 2010
Eastnor Castle, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1RL, England MAP
£155 for the weekend
daily capacity: 30000
last updated: Mon 2nd Aug 2010

Friday started grey and overcast, with rain clearly on the cards - not my idea of Big Chill weather, which (perhaps due to some dark magic on the part of the organisers) is generally very sunny. We started the day watching the multi-talented Martina Topley-Bird and her Ninja drummer (just for the spectacle? Or someone famous in disguise?) play the main Deer Park stage, where she revisited tracks from her last two albums, alongside a well-received cover of Massive Attack's 'Karmacoma'. Resplendent in a scarlet ball gown and gold glitter eye mask, Martina added guitar, xylophone, keys, harmonica and handclaps to her trademark sultry vocals.

Moving west up the hill to check out the newly arranged Enchanted Garden, we found this area substantially expanded from previous years, with far more green space to roam around and relax in. Now encompassing the Body & Soul holistic therapies area, the Monkey Shoulder Tree House Bar, the Buskers Stage, a silent laptop jamming stage that could only be experienced through the headphones provided, the Soopah Fly Garden and Lazyland stage, as well as myriad other tucked away performance spaces, this was another area that seemed to be changed for the better. The Lazyland stage was a particular hidden gem here, probably only found by those who actively went looking for it. Its unkempt secret garden charm was perfectly matched to the music we found there; Woodpecker Wooliams, the nom de plume of Gemma Williams, a Brighton-based singer and multi-instrumentalist whose fragile yet soaring folk vocals perch above plucked harp strings, and economically used bells and chimes. Bridging the gap between the experimental nu folk of bands like Adem and Tunng and the traditional folk of days of yore, Woodpecker Wooliams was a bit of a hidden gem herself.

Back at the Deer Park stage a monumentally boring set from former Mazzy Star front woman Hope Sandoval and her more recent band The Warm Inventions was cheered up by a group of scamps up the hill rearranging The Big Chill letters to read 'le big clit', which earned them a standing ovation from much of the crowd there, and set the tone for many similar anagrams over the course of the weekend.

Mike Pattons Mondo Cane And The Heritage Orchestra
Mike Patton's Mondo Cane & The Heritage Orchestra were next to perform on the Deer Park stage, garnering an enthusiastic reaction from the assembled crowd - although perhaps not so enthusiastic as Patton would've liked. "Get any more chilled, this place is gonna be a mortuary", the singer quipped early in his set. The Mondo Cane project features the Faith No More singer covering Italian pop songs of the '50s, '60s and '70s, backed by an orchestra, a band and several backing singers. As ever, Patton's showmanship makes for an extremely entertaining performance, and his vocal talent is evident here, but the Heritage Orchestra also hold their own, making a big big noise and clearly having a great time.

Thom Yorke
Celebrated Radiohead front-man, Thom Yorke, took the Deer Park stage into the dusk with a stunning entirely solo performance that included tracks from his The Eraser album, as well as stripped down re-workings of Radiohead tracks, 'Planet Telex' and 'Airbag'. Early in the set Yorke claimed that he was "flying by the seat of my pants, here", but it certainly didn't feel that way. Variously playing piano, guitar and bass, and looping live samples for backing, it was a solid and very warm performance from the notoriously shy performer, that went down well with the late evening audience.

Unfortunately this year The Big Chill decided to ditch the big video screens in the Deer Park stage area, and personally, I really missed them. Unless you were lucky enough to get reasonably close to the stage, the lack of video screens meant that there was unlikely to be much for you to see, particularly during Thom Yorke's set, where if you couldn't see Thom himself (who isn't exactly a very large person, even with his shaggy new hair do), you were left with just some purple lights. Bizarrely many smaller stages including Revellers and Chill X still had video screens for their far smaller performance spaces, but for some reason it was decided the main Deer Park stage didn't need them this year. Bad move, Big Chill! This was not a popular change to the set-up, and I heard many people complain about it over the course of the weekend.

Massive Attack
Friday night headliners Massive Attack were next on the Deer Park stage, showcasing tracks from new album Heligoland, as well as crowd-pleasers like 'Teardrop' (featuring a fabulous live vocal from Martina Topley-Bird), 'Angel', 'Mezzanine' and 'Unfinished Sympathy'. Fresh from an international tour, Massive Attack were a band in good shape; a very pleasant surprise given that the last few times I've seen them I've found them a little lacklustre, probably due to the band's well-documented internal politics which have only recently been resolved. The lack of video screens was again an issue during this performance, but at least Massive Attack had an exciting video backdrop, showing snippets from TV news footage of various war-torn scenes and natural disasters, neatly juxtaposed against recent tabloid headlines covering crap domestic 'celebrities', pointless moral outrage, xenophobia and scare-mongering.

Back in the new Uptown dance area once again, we joined the hoards in the Paradiso tent for the Hospital Records presents night, featuring drum and bass from Danny Byrd, London Elektricity, and High Contrast. The Paradiso tent was insanely hot and jam-packed with people, meaning in spite of the great sets, it wasn't exactly the most comfortable place to be as more and more people elbowed their way into an already over-crowded tent. Eventually we had enough of it, and found ourselves dancing to some very minimal beats from Layo & Bushwacka! in the Revellers tent until it was time to go to bed.

around the festival site (1)
review by: Lynsey Haire

photos by: Phil Bull

Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th August 2010
Eastnor Castle, Ledbury, Herefordshire HR8 1RL, England MAP
£155 for the weekend
daily capacity: 30000
last updated: Mon 2nd Aug 2010


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