We bump into Tim Peake in the media centre. I say “bump into”, it was more “walk past while he’s talking to someone else”. He’s everywhere this weekend. He even braved the Luminarium, an inflatable vinyl labyrinth of light environments and the unmistakable honk of damp inflatable vinyl, which is very popular indeed. Anyway, close up he’s quite the specimen of health and charm, as you’d expect from a British spaceman.
Maybe he’s hiding from a limited edition colour variant R2-D2 who has been menacing passers by all weekend. He looks mean but seems happy enough to pose for selfies with anyone who dares stand near him.
The day’s music starts in the Orbit with Stealing Sheep and the Radiophonic Workshop performing a live soundtrack to the 1973 animated film ‘Le Planète Sauvage’. I bump into Stewart Lee as we wait for them to come on stage and we have a quick chat about his film with The Nightingales’ frontman Robert Lloyd which was shown last night. Everyone laughed in the right places, he reports, and he’s looking forward to the pandemic-postponed grand premier in Birmingham.
When Stealing Sheep appear, they’re in their fetching flowing red gear, with red hats adorned with tassels which obscure their faces. It must make seeing the synths a bit tricky, but there’s no evidence of trouble; they sail through their lengthy musical sound-world as the deeply weird film plays out on the large screen.
Radiophonic icon Roger Limb contributes his resonant voice for some narration while Dick Mills, who worked so closely with Delia Derbyshire throughout the 1960s, manipulates a tape machine and uses an umbrella at one point to represent the flapping of dragon-type creature wings. Hang on to that umbrella Mr Mills, because outside the tent the rain having its final hurrah.
In the Notes tent there’s an impromptu talk with Anna Meredith who is performing on the main stage later before Björk. She talks about her compositional method, which involves spreadsheets, Sibelius and hitting things. When she does perform her set of spiralling, booming mini-climaxes and careful intricacies, it goes down a treat with the Bluedot crowd, who are rewarded for their open-mindedness with an Elton John cover medley. “I hope this wasn’t a stupid idea…” Meredith says before launching into it.
The entire site comes to a standstill when Björk appears. Even the rain stops. The bubbles, however, do not. A tiny flurry of the things waft across the stage in a reassuring flock, all perfect rotating little globes, like planets floating through space, like our own pale blue dot. Goodnight Bluedot, it’s been a blast.
Tickets for Bluedot 2023 are on sale now at www.discoverthebluedot.com/