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Bluedot Festival - Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, 20/7/2019...21/7/2019

  by Shirley Procter

published: 6 / 11 / 2019

Bluedot Festival - Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, 20/7/2019...21/7/2019

SATURDAY 20TH JULY Well, this morning started with even more rain, so we headed to the Star Field, which has hard standing as my scooter isn't coping with the mud. We looked at some Moon rocks, talked about poo with United Utilities - which was surprisingly interesting! Apparently they give recycled human poo to local farmers to use as fertiliser and produce electricity. The bacterial breakdown of poo is such that it is enough to power their plants, electric vehicles and put back into the national grid! Who knew! Then we went to a talk about the carbon footprint of our food, where we were encouraged to think about just how much carbon our food produces, and, as well as being encouraged to shop local (thinking about our food miles), to grow our own and to eat seasonal produce. I learnt loads! Now, I'm sitting on the Lovell stage accessible platform, waiting for one of my favourite bands - Easy Star All Stars. They are a reggae collective, which was founded in 1977 by four blokes from Easy Star Records - Michael Goldwater, Lem Oppenheimer, Eric Smith and Remy Gerstein. I last saw them at Glastonbury a few years ago, where they played Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band. Their first album, ‘Dub Side of the Moon’, is what they're playing here. It's awesome. They've also covered Radiohead’s ’OK, Computer’, with an album called ‘Radiodread’. They have also done a cover, ‘Thrillah’. I wish they'd cover a Coldplay album. Of course, it would have to be ‘Another Rush of Blood to the Dread’. They open with ‘True to Jah Love’, and the sun starts shining! Next up is ‘Lovely Rita’. I love this with a reggae beat! I'm still waiting for ‘Dub Side of the Moon’. Maybe no one told them that's what they're supposed to be playing! I'm not complaining though, I'm loving it. “Hello, how are you feeling? If you believe in love, put your hands up like this.” - everyone does! The field is full, the platform is almost full. It is a good job we came here early! The band are so full of energy, jumping all over the stage whilst playing their instruments, including the trombonist. Now they're starting ‘Dub Side of the Moon’! Oh. My. Goodness. It's amazing!!! This album was crying out to be played in a reggae and dub format! It sounds incredible. I suspect serious Pink Floyd fans would hate it, but it's awesome! I love how they add to the lyrics, how the dub parts complement beautifully with the original lyrics, and how the reggae beat really adds layers to the music. The projections on the screen at the back of the stage vary between geometric, slowly turning and growing kaleidoscopic shapes, to something akin to the opening credits of ‘Dr Who’, and are really beautiful to watch. I completely forgot about the opening of ‘Money’ - it starts with someone coughing, the flick of a lighter, then a sharp inhale! They play this faster than the original, with the very strong, easily recognisable bass line overplayed with a saxophone. In the crowd, there are children with bubble wands - the huge bubbles catch the sun as they are blown around by the wind, and somehow add to the atmosphere. They did a superb job of ‘Money’. Next up is a very gentle version of ‘Us and Them’, This one is probably the closest to the original. The saxophone is doing an incredible job! The keyboard player also does a solo. Wow, it is fantastic! Yeah, you've guessed it, I'm a big fan of Easy Star All Stars - my son introduced me to then a number of years ago, and I love them! I really like reggae, and the albums they've covered are some of my favourite albums as well. If you've not heard them, you should check them out. The trombone is doing a solo now. Boy, is he good. There really isn't much better than sitting in the sun on a Saturday afternoon in the summer listening to Easy Star All Stars playing ‘Dub Side of the Moon’! ‘Eclipse’, which is utterly beautiful, is next. The harmonies are spot on, it's a fantastic sound. ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’, with its somewhat problematic lyrics in 2019, follows but is still done well. It's the trombone player singing this time, as well as playing his trombone. Next up is ‘Dubbing Up the Walls’, a cover of ‘Climbing Up the Walls’ by Radiohead, with a different singer again - so far, the lead singers have been men, with women providing the backing vocals; but this time it is the other way round. The main lead singer tells us the next song is ‘The Marijuana Song’, and, yes, it definitely is. “Wow, thank you so much. I think we have one more song for you today.” She asks the band if they've been really good today, as they must have been really good today to be on the stage singing to all of us. Their final song is ‘Karma Police’, another Radiohead song. Love this one! The reggae beat works perfectly. The whole arena is waving its hands in time, and singing along with the song. “Thank you, Bluedot.” And with that, they leave the stage after taking selfies facing the crowd. That was a terrific performance by Easy Star All Stars! I absolutely loved it. I then have a short break and then come back to listen to Omar Souleyman - wow! He's a Syrian singer from Tell Tamer, near Ra’s al-‘Ayn, in north east Syria. He describes his music as being a mixture from his community; you can hear Kurdish, Ashuri, Arabic and Turkish influences in his music. He's incredible, providing fast-paced, melodic tunes with a strong driving beat. You can find his music at omarsouleyman.bandcamp.com Now we're all waiting for Jarvis Cocker, but he's late as usual! He's introducing his new band, JARV:IS. I've no idea what to expect, but I'm looking forward to it! The stewards have just been round handing out 3D glasses for Kraftwerk, so that will be interesting too! The set opens with the Apollo mission countdown. There's smoke filling the stage, and sparks are flying. A sign flashes up on the screen at the back of the stage - “We are JARV:IS, and we are going to travel to the moon together”- and Jarvis walks onto the stage. The drummer has been tapping the cymbals and now other instruments join in. Jarvis is standing on a raised platform dancing while the band play a strong, driving beat. “Thank you. Hello, people of Jodrell. That was a very old Pulp song called ‘Space’. The idea is that you, the crowd, pull me in from space. When we get here, we find there are further complications.” ‘Further Complications’ starts, and it's a fairly typical Jarvis Cocker song. When it ends, Jarvis talks to us, telling us “we're all being transmitted into space, so you should say hello. If I count to three, will you say hello?” We do. He tells us it wasn't loud enough, and we have to do it again, so we do. He then introduces his next song, ‘Children of the Echo’. The screen at the back of the stage has ‘Echo’ written on it, and a hand keeps writing it over and over again, smaller than the original. The field is rammed with Jarvis fans, cheering at the end. “You may realise we are playing new songs, and you're listening to them. Thank you. The next song is called ‘Must I Evolve’ that we recorded in a cave, and I'm conscious that there may be some scientists here, so if my theory is wrong I've set up a site where you can correct me, but not now as it will knock my confidence”. The song starts, again. The screen behind has ‘Evolve’ written on it. The song opens with Jarvis asking questions, and the backing singers answering “yes, yes, yes, yes”, or “no, no, no, no”, depending on the question. Jarvis is playing guitar as well. There's still smoke pouring from the stage. This time it's lit green. The song describes his theory of evolution. It's a strange song. Jarvis is very good at engaging the audience. “This next song is about a man trapped in his house, wanting to go out and listen to house music all night long”. It's called ‘House’. This one was okay, better than the first two. Jarvis continues telling the story about the man in the house. He picks up two vases, and becomes a ‘Homewrecker’. Cue the next song. Jarvis tells us we have to copy his dancing, and the whole field joins in!!, he tells us “Very good”, then starts singing. It's a very punky song. “Who's looking forward to Kraftwerk?” he asks. “I am. It's quite intimidating performing in front of the telescope. Is anyone here old enough to remember the Moon Landing. I was. My mum woke me up. I thought that would fulfill me, I thought we'd be living in space now, so I didn't bother learning to ride a bike. I didn't learn to until I moved to London when I was 25. This song is about feeling you're missing something, and is called ‘Am I Missing Something?’” This is a more melodic song than the last one, more like a Pulp song. “Some of you may remember I was in a band called Pulp. I’m going to play you a very obscure Pulp song now.” He plays an old Pulp song, ‘His and Hers’. Part way through, Jarvis asks us what we are afraid of, and goes into the crowd to ask. One person’s fear is of the unknown, another is BREXIT. Someone writes them on the screen. Weird. He goes back on stage and finishes the song. He arrived on stage late, and someone backstage is telling him to finish his set. He tells us, “Okay, we've got to be really quick. We've got to play just one last song.” He asks permission to play one more song, gets permission, and dedicates the song to the next Tory leader, as he tells us that ‘C**ts are Still Running the world”, and sings it. The field is absolutely rammed, with almost everyone singing the chorus. Jarvis leaves the stage, and I'm now waiting for Kraftwerk. I've got my 3D glasses at the ready, and have no idea what to expect. In the time between Jarvis and Kraftwerk, Air’s ‘Moon Safari’ is playing - I love Air, and this is the first album on my playlist on my PC! So I'm really enjoying it, and wondering how far through the album we'll get. The stage is now set. There are four keyboard stands waiting, and the whole of the rear of the stage is a screen. Kraftwerk walk on to massive cheers, and start playing ‘Numbers’. The screen is projecting in 3D. It's incredible! The second number is ‘Computer Love’, the one Coldplay sampled for ‘Talk’. The show is incredible - in 3D, very trippy! The visual effects are stunning. The whole of the back of the stage is a screen with 3D images in time with the music. Kraftwerk are wearing light up suits. It is visually stunning, and the sound quality is excellent. The edges of the stage and Bluedot signs are bathed in magenta lights. Next up is ‘The Man Machine’. If features a background that looks like a Mondrian painting , alternating with words - Man- machine in caps, then squares, then projecting out of the screen! Then “Super human being” in caps, it's fantastic! There is a giant pair of 3D glasses floating in the crowd. This is an incredible visual show. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Now Earth is moving behind them with a satellite. It looks like we’re in a satellite too. It changes to an image of Great Britain with Jodrell Bank picked out. Then there are satellites zooming at us, and now a flying saucer! Now there is one I know, ‘The Model’. The screen is showing 1950s models in Christian Dior New Look clothing “Autobahn’, which has amazing 3D images of vehicles on a motorway from the driver’s perspective, follows ‘Geiger Counter/Radioactivity’ is about lots of places where there have been nuclear power plant leaks, and is very anti-nuclear power. The next one is ‘Tour de France’, featuring lots of films from the Tour de France in the screen, with overlays of tracks, contours of the hills and random patterns. Next up is Trans Europe Express (TEE), which has more stunning visual images and sounds. After this one, it's ‘The Robots’, and finally ‘Boing Boom Tschak’, a wonderfully weird tune, with the lyrics shooting out of the screen towards us! One by one they leave their keyboard, take a bow and leave the stage. That was phenomenal. I've never been to a 3D gig before; I've seen 3D films and been to a couple of 3D things at Disney World, but this was epic! SUNDAY 21ST JULY Well, I've spent the morning doing science things, getting my geek on! I've played with thixotropic substances, magnetic slime, magnets and iron filings, and learnt how to code a racing car around a track! I love Bluedot!, I'm now back at the Lovell stage, waiting for She Drew The Gun - I've seen them a couple of times at other festivals, and love them. I've spotted Mandi, our photographer, heading to the pit, so they'll be on any minute now. And, yes, there they are. They're a five- piece band, lead guitar/vocals, guitar, keyboards/vocals, bass guitar and drums. ‘Paradise’, the first song, is a fast-paced number, while the second ‘Sweet Harmony’ is about borders and is slower. The screen at the back of the stage is showing random shapes in shades of pink and white The third song is ‘Since You Were Not Mine’. There are beautiful harmonies on this one with such sad lyrics. “Hiya, so this one is about not letting the bastards grind you down, because they will,” says lead singer Louisa Roach. It's a song with spoken word as well as sung, and is called ‘Revolution of Mind’. The screen has barcode shapes on top of multi-coloured backgrounds, now changing to a background of swirling lights. The arena is filled already, not quite as full as it was last night for Kraftwerk, but still pretty full! Mandi has left the ‘tog pit ‘and come over to the accessible platform to catch up with me. She's a great photographer. I can't wait to see the images she's taken. ‘Resisters’ is next, and the crowd roars its approval. There are lots of women's fists raised. ‘Poem’ follows. “Open up your eyes, see what I'm seeing.” It’s a really political song, this one. “How long will you build a wall to make a private city?” The crowd is silent, listening to the lyrics which are very powerful! I love She Drew The Gun, I really like the passion in their songs, and that their political beliefs spoken so clearly. They're incredibly expressive. After She Drew The Gun, I went for a mooch around Star Field, aiming to have a look at more geeky stuff. I smelt the Moon, Mars, the Milky Way and Space! The Moon smells like burnt gun powder! Then I went to a talk on ‘Searching for the Lost Meteorites of the Antarctic’ by Katherine Joy, a geologist and planetary scientist. She went with a team to the Antarctic to search for meteorites. A meteorite is a space rock that arrives on earth after hitting something else. The meteorites she was looking for were from asteroids, and mainly iron-based. Why look in Antarctica? Because you can find them at the base of mountains. They are black, and stand out against the ice and snow. Very few of them are iron meteorites- possibly because of how they are collected, and because iron meteorites heat up more and sink into the ice. There's a British expedition to hunt for meteorites happening in December 2019/January 2020. They're building giant metal detectors to drag behind skidoos (all terrain vehicles are fitted with skis) and they ran a trial expedition in March and found thirty-six meteorites, some buried, some on the surface. They were there for twenty days collecting, with ten further days stuck in the snow in which they were unable to do anything. The meteorites have just arrived back in Manchester, and are still frozen. They will be defrosted slowly, and then will go into their laboratory for investigation. In December, they will go back using the metal detection stuff and look again. They will go to Outer Recovery 3, and drive up and down with the metal detectors to see what they can find. I've had a bit more of a mooch, chatted to someone about nuclear energy, to someone from ‘New Statesman’ about climate change, and then I went to the #huckathon, who are a project helping the Ugandan government map out where people live, so they can provide health care services more effectively. Then I went to a talk by Sarah Bridle on food and climate change, which was fascinating - this talk looked at how much food production increases climate change, and the inefficiency of eating meat. She talked about how much energy is involved in producing beef to eat and milk to drink. For more information look on www.ggdot.org or check @sarahbridle I utterly love Bluedot. It's been going for four years now, and I've been to each one. It grew out of the gigs that Jodrell Bank had been holding previously. What differentiates it from other festivals is all the science stuff. There's something to feed everyone's inner geek; science experiments, talks and discussions on all sorts of subjects, opportunities to learn stuff, as well as seeing bands. It's great for families. I'd have been there with my children when they were young if it had been on then! If you've never been, you should really think about going. Photos of She Drew The Gun by Amanda J. Window www.amandajwindow.com

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Bluedot Festival - Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, 20/7/2019...21/7/2019

Bluedot Festival - Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, 20/7/2019...21/7/2019

Bluedot Festival - Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, 20/7/2019...21/7/2019

Bluedot Festival - Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, 20/7/2019...21/7/2019

Bluedot Festival - Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, 20/7/2019...21/7/2019

Bluedot Festival - Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, 20/7/2019...21/7/2019

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At the last two days of the Bluedot Festival Shirley Procter watches sets by Easy Star All Stars, Omar Souleyman, Jarvis Cocker, Kraftwerk and She Drew The Gun.


Profile (2018)
Bluedot Festival - Profile
Shirley Proctor and Amanda J Window preview this year's Blue Dot Festival, which merging music, science, art and culture, takes place in Cheshire between Thursday 19th and Sunday 22nd July and includes on its line=up Chemical Brothers, the Flaming Lips and Future Islands.


Photoscapes 3 (2022)
Bluedot Festival - Photoscapes 3
Andrew Twambley in the third of three 'Photoscapes' from the Bluedot Festival photographs some of is acts.
Photoscapes 2 (2022)
Photoscapes 1 (2022)

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