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Festival Review Bluedot Festival, Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire

Music and science combined in a brilliantly inter-related celebration of the old and the new at the weekend

IT SEEMS that Bluedot’s Sunday headliners New Order are on a lost-and-found mission with their opening numbers — Singularity touches on absent friends, Restless is existential and then there’s Joy Division’s Lost Control, Transmission and the gorgeous Your Silent Face.

Going disco beneath the open skies, Tutti Frutti sends the place mad and from then on it’s a singalong to every word, with some in the crowd shedding a tear and others simply falling apart.

Euphoric emotion kicks in as Subculture comes on strong before the eternal romance of Bizarre Love Triangle sends folk totally bananas.

Cooling things down a tad, the heady and fantastic Plastic introduces a proper electro-rave vibe but, by the time Perfect Kiss segues into intimacies of True Faith and Temptation, there’s a mass of flares held aloft just before the more than wonderfully melancholic Love Will Tear Us Apart and Atmospheres end a set that’s more than brilliant.

Unifying man and machine, the previous night Kraftwerk belt out an electro-lavish and blissful recalibration of the PA system as familiar tracks, buoyed with on-the-button breakout extensions, conjure the best electronic sounds still known to man.

Reflecting the culture of an epoch, Computer Love moves ironically around communication and digital alienation more sincerely than before and, perfectly, both Autobahn and Radio Activity sport harder-hitting dystopian resonances than usual.

Throughout, familiar electronic counterpoints, reshaped for the live experience, deliver even deeper spatial rhythms and angular beats. That’s especially true in the set’s exquisite centrepiece, the iconic Tour De France.

Bluedot has grown massive and, in orbit around the festival’s talk programme, I catch up with Tim O’Brien, who’s literally going places with his Moonbounce project.

He demonstrates that it’s possible to feel connected to the moon by bouncing real-time telephone calls and music off its surface and back again. Fascinating.

Earlier, biologist Liz Bonnin castigates the insidious corporate overuse of plastics and Jodrell Bank’s very own Dr Sally Cooper provides a wonderfully flirtatious account of how pulsars have relationships with their companions and increase their speed of rotation as they get older.

Really spacey food for thought, as indeed everything about this marvellous festival is.

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