Saturday dawned bright and sunny at Jodrell Bank Observatory and from the entrance of my tent I could see the Lovell Radio telescope, it was time for day two of Bluedot Festival to begin.
I headed first to the Root Stage, located towards the back of the leafy arboretum and it proved to be a great place to relax and listen to acoustic acts. Also in this area was a selection of sculptures themed around the planets including an Orrery; a giant mechanical model of the inner planets . First on the bill on Saturday was a selection of different authors, one of whom was reading from a collection of short stories which were a little bleak but had a streak of humour running through them.
Then I headed through the arboretum down to the main arena and the Orbit Stage to catch Lanterns on the Lake who were performing with the renowned Royal Northern Sinfonia, it truly was mesmerising to watch an orchestra up close, and you could tell how privileged the band felt to be playing on a festival stage with a live orchestra. Lanterns on the Lake’s beautiful folk music was a highlight of the festival.
Afterwards I went to watch a talk about Smart Machines and Big Data in the Mission Control tent but it proved too hot and stuffy in the blow up stage for my taste. So instead I managed to catch a couple of tracks from Formation before heading to watch Post War Glamour Girls on the Nebula Stage.
Post War Glamour Girls performed a ferocious set of dark, rocky music and I felt as though they’d be the perfect band to sound track a scifi apocalypse. Up next were The Watchmakers who seemed as if they were trying to bring back 90s brit-pop from their Oasis riffs to Liam Gallagher style haircuts, unfortunately their music didn’t do anything new for me and on a festival bill they did little to stand out.
Thankfully Sundara Karma on the Lovell Stage was the perfect antidote, capturing me with their stage presence as soon as I stepped in the tent. The four piece performed some beautiful harmonies and their music began by echoing The Maccabees before switching it up and performing a few numbers that resembled Kings of Leon at their most sing-a-long.
Beth Orton on the main stage proved to be a delight, her music transporting you to another world, with stellar visuals on the screen behind her really setting the tone.
The hype band of the festival certainly was Let’s Eat Grandma with a two page spread in the programme and their debut album getting some serious acclaim the Nebula stage was overflowing. I felt there was a distinct cut between their fans who were whooping and cheering every move to others like me who was wondering what the hell was going on at times. Let’s Eat Grandma proved more interesting than entertaining, with their strange choreographed dance moves, at times the girls would lie on the floor, or whisper to each other mid set, I would say though that it all added to the mystique of the band. By the end of the set their music had won me over and I’d like to hear more from them but I think it will take a couple of years for their live performances to match the acclaim of their recorded material.
Next I decided to head over to the Roots stage to catch Sol Flare and relax before the nights festivities, I’m glad I did as the band had a great dynamic and at times were reminiscent of Kate Bush.
First act of the evening were AIR celebrating their 20th anniversary on the main stage playing a set full of classics, I took a quick break to catch a bit of DJ Shadow but felt he would have suited a later slot like DJ Yoda the previous night, so after a couple of track I headed out to catch the end of AIR’s set.
Before the headliners Jean-Michel Jarre I headed to the contact stage to catch my first comedy set of the festival, Steve Cross performed an entertaining set called “How Science Ruined My Life” which according to him only existed as a joke on his website before the festival organiser phoned him up and asked him to do it at Bluedot Festival.
Now it was time for the main event Jean-Michel Jarre on the Orbit Stage and I have to say that he did not disappoint, throughout the whole set I could not tear my eyes away from the stunning visuals and as always his music gets you moving and on to the dance floor. They created giant movable screens that at times displayed visuals that echoed blade runner, something from the distant future and at one point the giant head of Edward Snowden. Jean-Michel Jarre is truly a master of this art.
After Jean-Michel Jarre had finished I decided to relax by catching the last half hour of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in the Close Encounters tent, entertainingly the crowd were whooping and cheering every space battle, every light sabre fight.
The night ended with two very different but equally entertaining comic performance from Adam Kay and his Keyboard comedy and Robin Ince whos set managed to be both funny and inspiring.