Playlist: Bluedot 2022 – Previewed


After a pandemic-enforced two year gap, July sees the return of Bluedot, a festival celebrating ‘music, science, and cosmic culture.’ Mike Pinnington plots a course through some of the acts announced this week…

In Rian Hughes’ science fiction ‘Novel, Graphic’, XX, Cheshire’s Jodrell Bank Observatory is the site of discovery for a mysterious signal of extra-terrestrial origin. The excitement and wonder that such a breakthrough of – seemingly – otherworldly intelligence would instil is difficult to imagine. And yet, those planning to attend this July’s Bluedot festival will perhaps get a measure of it, given the announcement of its stellar line-up.

Festival director Ben Robinson said: “After two years away we are thrilled to be able to return with such a unique and diverse line up to the iconic Jodrell Bank for the fifth instalment of Bluedot. We can’t wait for people to join us beneath the Lovell Telescope in July to experience four days of cosmic adventures which will close with a very special orchestral performance from Björk and The Hallé.”


Even for the big, best-established festivals, the last couple of years must have been a hell of ongoing touch-and-go scenario, never mind for the small to medium yet perfectly formed variety. So, it’s with some relief to see that so fine an example of the latter, is not only surviving, but firing on all cylinders.

Amid an array of high-profile names, it is undoubtedly Icelandic superstar Björk (no stranger to the otherworldy tag herself) who takes top billing, appearing in a festival exclusive with Manchester’s Hallé Orchestra. Their specially commissioned set will be accompanied by bespoke projections on the huge dish of the 76-metre-wide Lovell Telescope. Other headliners include crowd-pleasers, Groove Armada – this being one of the handful of dates in the band’s final live tour – as well as Mogwai, and Metronomy.

Other, similarly noteworthy names, join the quartet of festival favourites; another standout is, undoubtedly, Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized. In addition, you have the likes of Jane Weaver, Hannah Peel, Yard Act, and Tim Burgess. Glancing a little further down the festival line-up, it remains impressive, with recognisable acts even as you enter smaller-print territory – Stealing Sheep and the Radiophonic Workshop performing La Planète Sauvage among them.


The less familiar at festivals can also hold great promise; I certainly won’t be alone in having stumbled, more than once, into a performance by emerging talent, only to walk away one blinding set later with a new favourite band. In this regard, say hello to the likes of Los Bitchos, Porridge Radio, and Eccentric Research Council – an intriguing proposition which sees vintage synth enthusiasts Adrian Flanagan and Dean Honer alongside actor Maxine Peake, for The Dreamcatcher Tapes project.

Aside from the outstanding music, something that marks Bluedot out from many a festival, its USP, is what organisers refer to as the ‘science, and cosmic culture’ offer, dovetailing beautifully with its observatory setting. This year, that includes the likes of physicist and host of Radio 4’s The Life Scientific, Jim Al-Khalili, space scientist Monica Grady and David Olusoga. The Outer Space area, meanwhile, is home to artworks, to be viewed after dark. This year that includes twilight parades, immersive experience the luminarium, and Luke Jerram’s Gaia, a replica of Earth measuring seven metres in diameter. Such programming makes for a simultaneously family friendly and grown-up experience that’s hard to resist.

And besides all of that, as Metronomy say on their new single, it feels so good to be back.

Mike Pinnington

All images courtesy Bluedot Festival. See full line-up and more


Posted on 02/02/2022 by thedoublenegative