Sunday, 14 August 2016
Blue Dot 2016. Telescopes, Frenchmen and Charlotte Church
"Things Can Only Get Better". That was the first song I saw being played at this festival. By Charlotte Church. In front of Professor Brian Cox. It was the finale to an excellent edition of The Infinite Monkey Cage, performed live from the Lovell Stage.
Friday was sparse day events wise - next up for me was Public Service Broadcasting, putting in a reliably solid and entertaining festival set, including a dancing Uri Gagarin.
Headlining were Underworld - a band that I'd loved and then forgot about - performing a crowd pleasing set of massive tunes, the highlight of which was the back to back performance of Rez and Cowgirl.
The Lovell Telescope spent the weekend being lit by Brian Eno's, there in the background for all to see, but it also demanded a walk up close to view it in it's full glory.
Saturday was briefly interrupted by a journey back to Manchester to watch the matinee perfomance of my daughter in Hairspray and then quickly back in time for a talk (there were lots of talks, many of which proved more popular than a lot of the music, with standing room only) with Jim Spencer and Dave Tolan regarding the making of their track "Hello Moon, Can You Hear Me?" with Professor Tim O'Brian - a track constructed from sounds from space (example of a sample: the Proton Whistler, which is the sound of radio signals produced by plasma waves that travel along the Earth's magnetic field). The mention of the track being available as a 7" picture disc prompted a quick exit at the end to buy my copy.
Back to the music...
Moon Duo with some fantastic drone rock followed by a wonderful set by Air, starting off chilled out and finishing with a heavy dose of analogue synths.
And then Saturday night's finale. I've always liked Jean Michel Jarre, without paying too much attention to a lot of his music, but he has a reputation for putting on a show, so I thought it would be a good to catch him and...WOW, did he perform?! (A: yes he did) A beefed up set of tunes, relying heavily on his most recent albums, with the odd classic (Equinox, Oxygene) thrown in, it was the type of set that Daft Punk would have been proud to have put on. Sensory overload with the music, the pulsating bass and the visuals, he even found time to play the guitar on one track and, not to disappoint, a track played on his laser harp.
The most excellent Gwenno, kindly giving an English explanation of her Welsh language songs - Little did I know that one of them is actually sung in Cornish and that, to survive the inevitable uprising of sentinent machines, our best option is to learn a suitably obscure language that the machines will not understand, such as Welsh (or Cornish).
A bit of time relaxing to Be One and the gentle sound of bees buzzing in the key of C and then, from just outside the tent, I could catch British Sea Power amidst a sea of people and a fair amount of foliage onstage. Oh, and a bear in the crowd too.
Sheffiled "post-rockers" 65daysofstatic put in a beatifully energetic set before two magnificent performances on the Orbit stage. First of all, Steve Mason, looking like a man ready to take on the world, reminding us - the people - that we are the ones with all the power and inspiring us to take back control of our world from the likes or Rupert Murdock via a set of life affirming songs.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from Mercury Rev, who I'd never caught live before. Jonathan Donohue floated onstage like a man possessed, arms gracefully flapping like a swan and clearly lost in his own world, conducting and casting spells on his band mates for every note and beat that they were to play. Here was someone who was living and breathing the mind blowing set of psychedelic songs as if his life depended on it. The most remarkable moment of the weekend came with the opening chords of Goddess on a Hiway - as the chorus kicked in, he was clearly overawed at the sight and sound of the whole audience, on the verge of tears, singing it word for word back at him. Throwing themselves into a thundering version of Opus 40 and then The Dark Is Rising was the only way to go after this, leaving the crowd speechless at what they had just witnessed.
Clearly, the only thing to do after this was go and watch DJ Thundermuscle, AKA Steve Davis roll out a set of west coast psych rock, techno and Ozric Tentacles.
More photos here