The Jodrell Bank observatory has been home to some serious musical happenings over the years, from Flaming Lips to Sigur Rós. But with the inaugural Bluedot festival, the stunning location hit its musical stride in emotional style. The boutique festival’s three days of pioneering Franco electronics, science, new music and art performances gave the circuit what it badly needed; something out of this world.
Taking place from 22-24 July this year, the Cheshire observatory provided the backdrop to an eclectic line up that included Jean-Michel Jarre, Caribou, Underworld, AIR, Everything Everything, Public Service Broadcasting, Mercury Rev and British Sea Power. Perfectly in tune with its surroundings, the main stage hovered beneath the massive 76 metre diameter Lovell telescope – that was transformed into a massive canvas for Brian Eno’s installation revealed in time to the Jean-Michel Jarre set on Saturday night. Underworld, Jarre and Caribou headlined the consecutive nights perfectly in tune with the boundary pushing atmosphere of the event, complete with light shows and beats fit for other species.
Off the main stage the lineup is filled with a clever lineup of innovators and intrigue. Teenage duo Let’s Eat Grandma were weirdly fantastic with their hauntingly beautiful blend of synths, recorders, hand claps and fabulously eerie style. Paddy Steer brought his unique mix of bonkers innovation to the proceedings, and Lonelady treated us to something altogether more urban with her urgent drive clashing with edgy vocal lines.
Alongside the music, the gathered were treated to impromptu art and theatre installations, robot workshops, a Planetarium and just general wandering around the site’s Galaxy Gardens and cool small stages set in the nooks and crannies of the Discovery Centre. The chilled out gardens at night revealed sculptures made from trees, lights and flames adding to the boutique, low-key atmosphere. Not forgetting to mention the food and drink options including proper dining at the ‘End of the World’ restaurant, real ales and even a cocktail tent.
This was no maurauding horde of a festival. Hitting a perfect balance for discerning music lovers and aging ravers alike with its pioneering headliners, exciting new finds, science oddities and general off beat atmosphere, the bluedot festival was relaxed, friendly and generally gorgeous. Let’s hope they find the same high notes for next year!