With the worst of the weather now-departed - Bluedot welcomes Kraftwerk and Jarvis Cocker to the festivities.
On the Lovell Stage, Kokoko!
take their distinct cultural sound to a willing Bluedot crowd, fighting through an hour of Congolese funk music in matching yellow boiler suits. Although their instruments are homemade, the strength of their structures and rhythms make the songs sound as clean as any electronic act and the set feel refreshing and relevant.
Following up, the global hit Omar Souleyman
brings Syrian-Western infused dance music along with some sunshine. His iconic sunglasses and 'tache sit above a smile as he moves the audience with middle-eastern melodies laid over four to the floor beats, worsening the mud beneath everyone’s feet.
Bristol band Scalping
blows the Orbit Stage apart, with a heavy, bouncing set of rock fuelled techno, inspired by 90’s hardcore and industrial – the aggression of acts like Nine Inch Nails and the Prodigy is not just nodded towards, but explained through a full-on face slap. They are happy to leave a synth hanging hard in the air at 140 bpm with a strobe pulsing along with it and call it a respite. Scalping might perform industrial-sized music on a small scale, but there’s only success awaiting these guys.
'Legend of the North' Jarvis Cocker
is back with solo project JARV IS. The Pulp-frontman’s voice is not nearly as faded as his hair colour, nor has his stage presence – at one point he instructs dance moves to the Lovell crowd, looking like someone showing where the exits are on an airplane. A brass band backs him as he ploughs proudly through his new material. Cocker’s lost none of his character and seems to love this stage of his career, the Britpop poster-boy now a model of middle age.
One of the weekend’s act’s to look out for is TVAM
, alias of Joe Oxley helped out by a mate on drums. They sound undeniably grunge-y in spite of the synth abuse – songs like ‘These Are Not Your Memories’ echo early Kasabian, working around simple riffs played well. What’s most distinct is their performance strategy, as they plant a fat old Philip’s television between them on stage. It takes on a sort of frontman role with the lyrics appearing on screen as Oxley sings them, a touch of satire that helps set them apart.
Of course the act on everyone’s t-shirts today is Bluedot main stage headliners Kraftwerk
. The German innovators of the electronic genre provide a special 3-D show that is actually most astonishing for how good it sounds. It’s a testament to how ahead of their time the band were that 40 years later this may be the best their songs, which dive deep under the skin with surging keyboards and bass, have ever appeared live. Songs like ‘Computer World’ and ‘Man Machine’ come so cleanly through the PA that they sound better than on record.
Kraftwerk might have predated the times when festival stages could host electronic acts, but their music benefits from the sound quality more than anyone else this weekend. The 3-D shtick certainly adds something – the people standing in glasses are transfixed by the spaceships, cars, Jodrell Banks and computers coming out of the screen towards them. They are “plugged in” to the performance from Kraftwerk, who have taken their robotic identities to new mind-controlling levels and leave Bluedot convinced that that set was close to perfection.
The Bluedot after-party kicks in with a series of late-night dance events. On the Nebula Stage, Canadian DJ Peach
spins through acid, house and techno showing why she is one of the best around right now.
One of the biggest surprises of the whole Bluedot weekend comes from 808 State
who, unlike many contemporaries at the festival, opt out of taking the most electronic, dance-y live route; instead they challenge themselves with real drum kits and guitars, if anything making something that’s nearer to metal than the acid Hacienda anthems they’re known for. With an insane display of lasers, the unexpected rockier rave works just fine.
The responsibility falls to Daniel Miller
, the veteran behind Mute records, who wraps up Saturday with some searing techno. He ends the night with an infectious 7-minute throbbing acid track – perhaps the best possible way to punctuate a day that was made great for all the muddy dancing, energised performances and sheer electronic spectacle that Saturday’s artists have manufactured.
Photo credit: courtesy of festival organisers