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REVIEW: bluedot 2019

Celebrating 50 years of Neil Armstrong first setting foot on the Moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission, bluedot festival returns for the fourth year at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire for another long weekend exploring the frontiers of space and our own universe for a journey of discovery that combines live music over a number of stages and science with writers, artists, speakers, scientists and performers.

Over the sold out, four day festival, Hot Chip, Kraftwerk and New Order play headline sets, and many artists across numerous stages, together with some special Moon Landing themed events including a Moonbounce – using the Dwingeloo Telescope in the Netherlands to transmit messages into space and rebound it off the surface of the Moon, then playing the returning echo to the audience through the sound system via the Mark II telescope at Jodrell Bank.

As ever, this festival for all the family, combines music, performance and art with a range of talks and presentations about a range of science subjects, plus a whole range of events across the scientific, literary and arts communities with talks, screenings, lectures, comedy, sci-fi movie showings including ‘Moon’, ‘Apollo 13’,  Wallace and Gromit’s ‘A Grand Day Out’ and a welcome return for The Clangers plus some local and BBC radio broadcasts from Shaun Keaveney and Radcliffe and Maconie.

Other entertainment includes the ‘Jedi’ training school, the luminarium, 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 and exhibitions.

Friday

Friday evening gets going with Ibibio Sound Machine, followed by Kate Tempest and headliners Hot Chip.

Saturday

On the Lovell Stage, Rebecca Roy opened Saturday lunchtime followed by Cosmic Dross served up by Henge making a welcome appearance on the main stage for the first time. Jim Al-Khalili gives a talk about Time Travel separating Science Fact from Science fiction. New Yorker’s Easy Star All-Stars perform a surprising spin on classic Floyd album ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ in a Reggae style.

KOKOKO! come from the Congo and bring their explosive sound with many DIY instruments to the Lovell Stage for a lively set, with Omar Souleyman following, before a fine set from one-time Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, who made his entrance through the crowd to the stage for an energetic performance, including a few fruit pastilles for the audience.

Closing Saturday night, was a long awaited bluedot appearance from the grandfathers of Techno, Kraftwerk, who performed their 3D set to an eager crowd, who were sporting 3D glasses, to get the effect of Kraftwerk’s graphics and animations to a stomping hit filled electro soundtrack.

Sunday

The main arena was pretty chilled out at first, but it didn’t take long for the bands and the crowd to get warmed up. Carlisle band, Lucid Dream started the afternoon, with Liverpool’s She Drew The Gun (much promoted by BBC6 Music) and the new goddesses on the block OSHUN,.

The Orioles get the final evening off to a flying start, followed by the wonderful Anna Calvi, a striking performer and singer, who wields the guitar like a weapon. Michigan born (now Icelandic resident) John Grant follows with a superb electronic set, including Budgie on drums. Grant is delighted to be supporting New Order, he’s clearly a fan. The Lovell stage closes with local band New Order, with a super set of Joy Division and New Order songs.

The fourth bluedot Festival has again been a great event, with great crowds, some variable weather (including plenty of mud), with some fantastic music, arts and entertainment, and plenty to get the old grey matter working.

Dates for bluedot 2020 have already been announced for 18th-21st July, and tickets are on sale now for the early birds. I’d get in early, as next year promises to be as great as this.

Review and pictures by Ken Harrison.

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