Jodrell Bank played host to the Bluedot festival again this year, with the famous radio telescope providing a stunning backdrop to the festival’s main stage. The Lovell Telescope is prescient throughout the Bluedot site, always lurking in the skyline, rotating and moving, even being used as a massive screen for headline acts to project onto.
The Lovell Stage (Bluedot’s main stage) was opened on Thursday night by Kathleen Francis, followed by Hannah Peel and Paraorchestra, who brought their stunning ‘The Unfolding’ work of visual art and music to the Thursday crowd – once Peel and Paraorchestra closed out day one, the heavens opened. The rainswept Bluedot crowd didn’t let the weather get them down and the clouds briefly parted for Katy J Pearson to kick off Friday at Bluedot.
KJP played through a brief set of highlights from her two albums and loosened up the appreciative Chester crowd. Shortly after, Los Bitchos took the main stage; they blasted through a packed set, grooving with the crowd to a selection of cuts from debut album Let The Festivities Begin, which after some coaxing with their Americana, funk and punky stylings kicked the place up a notch – Bluedot 2022 had truly begun.
The Goa Express played a short yet triumphant set under the tent at the Orbit stage before Groove Armada headlined- their iconic mix of dance, electronica and house trip-hop was a real treat, paired with stunning visuals projected onto the Lovell Telescope. Spiritualised were scheduled to play, although a late, positive covid test meant that Bluedot favourites Public Service Broadcasting filled in. As Thursday became Friday the Orbit tent was packed out, building a palpable atmosphere that PSB took full advantage of. Their space funk and art rock was a huge success, as expected, at BD. The cut ‘All Out’ was a prescient moment: a lurching, rage-fuelled track that details the struggle of the miner’s strike felt especially relevant.
Saturday dawned and the Lovell Telescope was once again bathed in sunshine – a (mostly) brighter day saw a huge mix of artists take to the many stages across the site. Skincare and cosmetics brand LUSH had its own stage, where a diverse lineup of panel discussions helped to educate and inform festival-goers about climate change, veganism, gender norms and much more. Broadcasting legend and podcaster Adam Buxton performed his BUG Club to a packed-out Mission Control tent, where Buckles dissected contemporary music videos and the absurdity of internet culture.
Back over to Nebula for a brief yet powerful set from The Lounge Society, and a brilliant show from newbies to the scene Soup!, whose post-punk melancholia was the perfect soundtrack to Mancunian drizzle. Brighton outfit Porridge Radio were a real highlight of the weekend: new album Waterslide Diving board Ladder to The Sky dominated their set, with muscular rock sounds and soulful, poetic lyrics reverberating around the tent. Even more crammed into the already full Nebula tent for Leeds legends Yard Act, who swiftly blew the roof off the gaff. One of those YA punters was Mogwai’s very own Stuart Braithwaite, who hot-footed it back to the main stage for their own headline performance.
Mogwai were electric – watching the Glaswegian four-piece construct their colossal soundscapes live is truly something to behold. The sheer volume of the band is immeasurable, and their long-form songs captivated the crowd in a two-hour reverie of post-rock noise and guitar feedback.
Sunday saw more rain, of epic proportion: Sea Power opened the stage and the rain-coated masses ate up the alt-rock with glee. Bluedot Festival favourites HENGE then landed, their space age, alien rock was a delight when served with lashings of cold, northern rain. though to give them credit HENGE powered on with aplomb, creating a brilliant feel-good atmosphere which lasted the rest of the weekend.
Irish singer-songwriter Fears (aka Constance Keane, who provides drums in post-punk outfit Mhaol) drew a considerable crowd for her ethereal pop. Emotional and dramatic, Fears absolutely stole the show, her one-woman show was an utter triumph. The rain continued to pour as sleaze rockers Warmdusher kicked Bluedot up a notch – cagoules and ponchos writhed around in the mud as WD played out a selection of their genre-bending sounds.
After a short but strong DJ set from BBC 6 Music’s Mary Anne Hobbes, Bluedot were finally able to experience Björk in all her glory. Accompanied by Manchester’s Halle Orchestra, Björk was truly phenomenal. Playing a varied set of new, old and iconic, Björk accompanied by only the strings around her was an experience to behold. As the sun set around the Lovell telescope and Björk’s voice soared as the orchestra swelled, Bluedot festival closed out in serious style.