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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Booth

Mud, Music and Mushrooms

With festival season up and running, I made my first foray of the year, spending a weekend surrounding myself with tents, bands and liquid refreshment at Bluedot. A journey across the Pennines took me to Jodrell Bank near Crewe, home to the vast Lovell telescope, and an impressive and apt setting for the festival's electronica-based line up.

Grace Jones performs on the Lovell Stage, Sunday 23rd July 2023

With an unfortunate forecast ahead, my partner and I had no choice but to fully embrace the classic British summer for three days of alfresco music and two nights under canvas. With the ground already saturated from what's been a damp July, the green grass carpet of the main arena was turned to mud by the end of the first evening. The musical ensemble was on point however, with highlights including the timeless dance beats of Leftfield, multi-costumed Roisin Murphy, Welsh/Cornish-singer Gwenno and fantastic duo, Nimmo who drove the crowd at the smaller Nebula stage wild - myself included!

Nimmo perform on the Nebula Stage, Friday 21st July 2023

Lucy in the main arena, Friday 21st July 2023

Roisin Murphy performs on the Lovell Stage, Friday 21st July 2023

Leftfield perform on the Orbit Stage, Friday 21st July 2023

Heavy rain overnight into the Saturday meant organisers had to lay down wood chips and boarding to try and make the well-trodden sludge-like paths passable. Nevertheless, the fun and musical entertainment continued. The mesmerising and mind boggling Henge - with their army of mushroom-hatted fans - coupled with a dry spell of weather brought hope. The uplifting feeling remained as Dry Cleaning took to the stage, bubble-guns in the audience set to rapid fire. But as the evening approached, storm clouds gathered over Cheshire. Flashes of lightning accompanied the upbeat rhythms of The Go! Team who performed under the hypnotically-patterned Orbit stage. The already large crowd swelled as revellers dashed under the tarpaulin to avoid the sudden downpour. Fortunately there was enough musical entertainment to hide us from the rain a while longer as 2ManyDJs then took to the Orbit stage. Afterwards, an anxious and treacherous traipse back to the tent hoping that it had survived the deluge.

Henge perform on the Lovell Stage, Saturday 22nd July 2023

The Go! Team perform on the Orbit Stage, Saturday 22nd July 2023

2ManyDJs perform on the Orbit Stage, Saturday 22nd July 2023

Sunday brought further change with many of our neighbours for the weekend packing up, not only in readiness to leave the site once the final acts had performed later that day, but to escape the mud and rain with immediate affect. Day ticket holders had been advised not to come, and upon witnessing the wild scenes in the car park field, it was easy to see why this decision had been made. Local farmers were working on overtime to tow stranded cars out of the wheel-sucking mud. Ironically, by now, the rain had stopped and a few rays of sun broke through the dense cloud allowing us to enjoy a relaxing slump in deckchairs at the base of the Lovell telescope. Energy regained, it was back to the arena where a small lake now needed to be negotiated in order to reach the main stage.

Conditions near to the Lovell Stage, Sunday 23rd July 2023

An energetic Georgia helped to uplift the mood, which was taken to an even higher level by The Mercury Prize-nominated Young Fathers. A change in set brought the opportunity to take a front row position for the weekend's headline act: the insuppressible Grace Jones. The heavens opened once more as she was due to begin her set. The fact that she was late just added to her flamboyant persona. Suddenly the black curtain that had been erected to hide the stage was released, and a gold-masked and caped figure came into view. The dampness of the night didn't seem to matter as her distinguishable vocal erupted.

An infectious spark spread through the crowd as she commenced her repertoire of hits including Slave to the Rhythm, Pull Up to the Bumper and My Jamaican Guy. Further delighting those gathered with her frequent costume changes and suggestive dance moves, she then climbed on the shoulders of a security guard to allow the front row a more up-close and personal interaction. The guard received a kiss on the lips for his troubles from the enigmatic Jones before she retook to the stage for her climatic hula hooping end - not bad for a 75-year-old!

Lucy in the main arena, Sunday 23rd July 2023

Young Fathers perform on the Lovell Stage, Sunday 23rd July 2023

Grace Jones performs on the Lovell Stage, Sunday 23rd July 2023

Grace Jones performs on the Lovell Stage, Sunday 23rd July 2023

Altogether Bluedot 2023 was a fantastic weekend despite being the wettest festival I've ever been to. With so many different outdoor music events on offer to us these days, Bluedot's Jodrell Bank setting, science theme and selection of acts certainly make it one of the most original gatherings of its kind.

#festival #musicfestival #bluedot #britishsummertime #weather #everyday #photography @bluedotfestival @gracejones @nimmonimmo @leftfield @the_go_team @youngfathers @roisinmurphy @henge_band @2manyDJs

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