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REVIEW: Bluedot Festival 2018 at Jodrell Bank

After the recent extreme weather, this weekend was a little more temperate as festival goers land at Jodrell Bank - the Cheshire observatory at the cutting edge of humanity’s quest for knowledge.

Bluedot is a long weekend exploring the frontiers of space and our own universe. A journey of discovery that combines live music over a number of stages and science with writers, artists, speakers, scientists and performers.

This years line-up is extensive and has something for everyone’s tastes, with Flaming Lips, Future Islands and The Chemical Brothers playing headline sets across the three days. Bluedot also played host to talks and presentations about a range of scientific subjects, plus a whole setof events across the scientific, literary and arts communities with talks, screenings, lectures, comedy, sci-fi movie showings including The Theory of Everything, Metropolis, Moon and The Fly.  with so much going on it is impossible to take it all in.

The Luminarium returns again this year, plus art and music installations including the new ‘Illumaphonium’, ‘Jedi’ training school, the planetarium, and much more as well as an extensive programme of family entertainment offering ‘kids’ of all ages the chance to enjoy a variety of specially designed science shows, and an array of surprising and interactive workshops including some with The Radiophonic Workshop for all the young synthesiser pioneers of the future.

Friday

Friday afternoon opened up with The Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band’ on the main stage (Lovell Stage) followed by Plastic Mermaids, To Kill A King, Afriquoi, Tim O’Brien, and Alexis Taylor kicking off the evening session, Public Service Broadcasting making a welcome return to bluedot with a set comprising tracks from all three of their albums to date. Main stage headliners The Flaming Lips, with Wayne Coyle & Co. closing the day with a superb set of ‘Lips’ songs, and an explosive beginning to their set with Confetti Cannons, Confetti guns, smoke jets, and Inflatable balls being launched out into the crowd. Having experienced a ‘Lips’ set previously I knew what to expect, but even second time around the joyful chaos is still something to be experienced.

Saturday

On the Lovell Stage, Radiophonic Workshop opened Saturday lunchtime with a set of classic electronica including the immortal ‘Dr Who’ theme, followed by Little Cub, Amber Arcades indie set and some terrific ‘Afrobeat’ that suited the warm afternoon perfectly, courtesy of ‘Baloji’.

Nadine Shah played an exuberant set to start the evening, followed by 70’s/80’s electronic pioneer Gary Numan playing tracks from his current ‘Savage’ album and tracing back to ‘Are Friends Electric’ and ‘Cars’ including an appearance from daughter Persia providing vocals. Numan is looking and sounding in great shape, with an energetic festival set. Such was the reception from the crowd, this could easily have been a headline act.

Set closer for the day is Baltimore’s ‘Future Islands’ with Samuel T Herrings distinctive vocals and presence and a great set of old and new tracks.

Sunday

Sunday was a much quieter day (at least until the evening when the arena filled up for festival closers, The Chemical Brothers), Lovell Stage hosted bands such as Warm Digits, Lost Horizons, Crazy P, Litle Dragon and the ‘Chems’ with a blistering set of electronic dance music and a visual display to blow you away from visual artist Adam Smith 

bluedot Festival was again been a massive success, helped by a beautiful summer’s weekend and great crowds. Bluedot showed us old bands and new bands, bringing us together with music and education and fun and taught us about this pale blue dot (as described by Carl Sagan) that we all live on, and three days was simply not enough time to take it all in.

After an interstellar weekend at bluedot, I cant wait for next year.

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