Jodrell Bank Observatory
18 - 21 July
The stars aligned for Bluedot this year. The fourth edition of the festival, which takes place annually in the celestial setting of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, coincided with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
Incorporating an inventive programme taking in music, experiments and discussion panels, the festival positions itself as a family-friendly celebration where music and science intertwine. As such, Bluedot welcomed luminaries such as Helen Sharman – Britain’s first astronaut – and there was a running theme of sustainability, with groups such as Extinction Rebellion given a platform to highlight the fragility of our planet and the necessity for change.
Live music, as always, remained a key focal point. Friday saw Hot Chip play a headline set against the stunning backdrop of the Lovell Radio Telescope. Their reimagined set showcased much of their latest album A Bath Full of Ecstasy whilst breathing new life into much-loved classics like Over and Over. Kelly Lee Owens kept the Friday energy high as she switched from electro floorfillers to vocal-driven tracks doused in reverb. Her set seamlessly transformed the orbit stage into a medley of cosmic sounds and strobes.
Jarvis Cocker provided a Saturday highlight. Performing unreleased material from his JARV IS project, he dedicated one of his songs to our new Prime Minister: “Bluntly put, in the fewest of words: cunts are still running the world.” Intriguingly, his brooding, humourous show was followed by Kraftwerk, who provided entertainment on a different scale. At one point their 3D show displayed a spacecraft hovering over Chesire. Interestingly, many tracks have been reworked to take on different meanings: 1981’s Computer World, for example, now acts as a warning about big data. The contemporary resonances aren’t needed, their catalogue of tracks such as Autobahn and Tour de France are timeless enough to stand by themselves.
It fell to New Order to close the festival. Easing in with synth-glittered disco numbers such as True Faith and Tutti Frutti before the band struck a more poignant note through Joy Division classics She’s Lost Control and Transmission. They closed with a blistering version of Love Will Tear Us Apart. The crowd united, it was an apt end to a unique festival which celebrates what’s possible when people come together.