Based at the stunning Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, Bluedot festival launched this year promising to fuse a complex mix of artists, speakers, scientists and performers into an event unlike any other on earth.
Let’s start with the location. It’s mind-blowing. A completely unique festival site, sitting in the shadows of the iconic Lovell telescope. Just arriving onsite excites the senses ahead of the voyage of discovery that you’re about the embark on. The five music stages are just the start of your journey of exploration, with too many activities around the site to discover in one weekend.
Friday saw Public Service Broadcasting take to the stage and must have felt like they were performing in their own back yard. Showcasing tracks from their latest album ‘The Race for Space’, J. Willgoose, Esq and co. engaged and enthralled a hefty crowd on the main stage. Their service announcement recording of ‘the very first Bluedot festival’ drew multiple cheers, as did a shout out to Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.
George Fitzgerald followed, warming up the pre-headline crowd with a well-received DJ set, making the most of the impressive sound quality that featured across the site. As the lights went down, Underworld entered the stage to a hero’s welcome. Visibly buzzing, frontman Karl Hyde tore through a set including the epic ‘Two Months Off’ and ‘Born Slippy. NUXX’ alongside their latest effort, ‘I Exhale’. Bluedot had well and truly taken off and the journey had just begun.
Beth Orton took to the Lovell stage on Saturday to a modest but appreciative crowd. I’ve not come across her music or live performances before, but her tender and emotive vocal performance went down well with me. Shooting across to Lonelady on the Orbit stage, the Mancunian songstress delivered an intense set featuring songs from her two critically acclaimed albums.
The laid back electronica of French cult heroes Air provided a relaxing vibe in preparation for the main event. Performing to the biggest crowd of the weekend, the illusive <a href="/festivals/bands.php?BandID=4398"><b>Jean Michel Jarre</b></a> brought his Electronica tour to Jodrell Bank and it’s hard to describe how incredible it was. A visually spectacular assault on the senses saw Jarre tear through his back catalogue, mixing classics with a heavier, rave-influenced sound of his new material. Without doubt, it was the best light show I’ve ever seen and backed by Jarre’s music, it made for an extraordinary climax to the Saturday at Bluedot. For anyone who hasn’t witnessed the Laser Harp, it’s a genius piece of performance art. The beautiful visual art of Brian Eno projected onto the Lovell telescope only added to this performance being truly remarkable.
Sunday saw Manchester art-rockers Dutch Uncles showcase tracks from their recent new album sessions, alongside riotous performances of ‘fester’ and ‘flexxin’. Frontman Duncan Wallis led the crowd with some big dance moves and get the final day of Bluedot going. Humorously teasing possible covers of Seal and Supermen Lovers, Wallis made it clear that anyone wanting covers should leave immediately. I’d have fancied hearing their take starlight though.
British Sea Power, introduced by Marc Riley in a Mexican wrestler’s mask, gave the loudest performance of the weekend. Their shrubbery-heavy stage set up and fan favourite set list made it a great afternoon on the Orbit Stage.
Everything Everything, clad in their matching outfits, ripped through a hit-packed set on Sunday evening. Receiving the biggest singalongs of the weekend, the band finished with a belting rendition of Distant Past, a song ridiculously perfect for festival fields. This set up Caribou to round off the festival doing what they do best. Performing under the stars and Mars, Dan Snaith and the band brought Bluedot 2016 to an epic close.
For a man who seemingly had no interest in space, technology and science, I came away from Bluedot invigorated and enlightened. It really is a wonderful festival for all the family and I’ll 100% be returning next year. The organisers are onto something special and long may it continue.
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