Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Big Chill 2008 @ Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire: Day 2

2 August 2008


Having got off to a flyer, day two of the Big Chill sees scorching sunshine beating down on the beautiful grounds of Eastnor Castle Deer Park.

The day’s aural entertainment begins with modern jazz act The Blessing, whose music may be a bit self-indulgently noodly at times but fits the gorgeous summer’s day perfectly.

The same goes for Big Chill stalwart Mixmaster Morris who plays a rare live set over on the Open Air stage alongside Jonah Sharp.
Wearing one of his trademark eccentrically shiny outfits, the ambient pioneer plays some new tracks before finishing on his remix of Autumn Leaves, a bonafide ambient classic.

Following a dose of Balearic house over courtesy of the Heavenly Jukebox at the Rizla Arena, we head over to catch rising star, Lykke Li. The 21-year-old Swede caused a critical stir with her recent album and, on the strength of her poppy, feisty yet substantive tunes, rightly so. She’s definitely one to watch for the near future.

The Big Chill Nights tent is rammed to the rafters for Bill Bailey so a whole sit-down audience fills the field outside the marquee where onsite radio station Big Chill FM play his set on the loudspeakers. It proves to be hilarious with plenty of Bush-baiting and woodland creature references plus of course the songs, which include an emo track about a self-harming Starbucks employee and the classic, Billy Bragg aping Unisex Chipshop. It begs the question, if the ‘Buzzcocks star attracts this enormous crowd what’s the Mighty Boosh going to be like later on?

It’s not long before we find out. Brighton duo Fujiya and Miyagi play their off-kilter electro-rock, ending on self-referencing signature tune Ankle Injuries. Then, following a short DJ interlude, the most popular men in comedy stride onto the stage.

Mighty Boosh groupies take up the first 20 rows of the crowd, some of them dressed (or dressed by their parents) as their favourite characters. Their set proves eye-wateringly humourous. Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt share some light banter but the focus is largely on the songs from the show like Electro Boy and Eels.

With help coming from Bola the gorilla and interludes from The Moon, (whose ode to third astronaut Michael Collins is hugely funny), the show has a very rough narrative running through it. Naboo has apparently crashed his magic carpet and died after a trip to the herbal high stall so a touching tribute is sung. Bola then runs on stage singing Peaches‘ Fuck The Pain Away. Brilliant. Naboo then comes onstage wearing a Bernie Clifton-style ostrich outfit as they end the set on Bouncy Bouncy. They may be surrounded by hype and the groupies may be slightly too fervent but the ‘Boosh prove they’ve earned their position by being watched by and entertaining about 90% of the 39,000 strong attendance.

It’s swiftly back to the music as Tom Middleton comes straight on to play a magnificent old school set in celebration of 20 years of acid house. From The Future Sound Of London and The Prodigy to The Bassheads, Bizarre Inc and 2 Bad Mice, it’s a breakneck journey through old rave, hardcore and techno tunes. Finishing on Show Me Love by Robin S forms a slightly commercial ending but it brings to a close an absolutely exhilarating set that got misty-eyed ravers and younger audience members alike leaping around like grinning fools.

Jon Hopkins, fresh from supporting Coldplay on tour, provides some somewhat more sedate shiny electronica to give the audience a breather. The electronic theme continues with Plaid‘s electronic melodies and eclecticism. Sounding like Orbital one moment then unleashing some rough drum and bass the next, Andy Turner and Ed Handley are then joined by a troupe of nine mesmerising modern dancers. It’s certainly a spectacle to see modern dance married with the duo’s heavy, tribal beats, grinding synth bursts and uplifting chords and bass. Another Big Chill moment unravels.

Mr Scruff has been synonymous with the festival for a long time now and the jolly, funky tracks he plays are lapped up by the audience. His trademark comedy visuals flash up on the screen raising a cheeky smirk but meanwhile Trentmller is playing an absolute blinder over on the Open Air stage. We arrive to hear the Dane play a stirring cover of the White Stripes‘ Seven Nation Army but sadly it’s then all over.

There’s still plenty to entertain the masses post-curfew though so we head off up the big hill to the Art Trail. Here we discover a marquee where a table, pens, pencils and paper form the centrepiece so we settle down for some doodling and laughter with some complete strangers. Other attractions include large screens featuring scenes of nature, a video of a horse in a house and a kaleidoscope shed which we are allowed to enter and dance around in to create some shapes and colours for those outside. It’s so much fun we almost don’t notice the rain.

That’s the thing about this place; it’s not just about the music. There’s so much else going on and attention to detail is of paramount importance. Unbelievably two thirds of the festival have already have passed and only day three remains. Time flies.



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