Ok so for the second year running I suffered the indignity of camping in a flowery patterned tent but hey, it could have been worse, after all, I'd packed my wellies and my rain mac and I didn't need them once!! The weather was glorious all weekend, but hey, why am I talking about the weather? I can only assume it must be a British thing
So after the usual stress of driving down to the sight at Eastnor Deer park in the glorious Malvern hills, getting lost on the way having taking the wrong turning on the motorway and ending up heading towards London, trying to put up my tent in the early evening after countless journeys back and forth from the car, we eventually took a wander over the hill and down into the festival on the Thursday night, the day before it all started. The site was already full of people getting geared up for three days of rancho relaxo style chilling in the company of good friends, good food and the prospect of some amazing music. Now you see, this is what I love about the big chill, within two minutes of walking near to the main stage, I bumped in to a good friend from university, whom I'd lost contact with and had not seen for about four years. You couldn't make it up. Ha ha
So Friday eventually arrived along with the start of the festival, I wake up in my lovely flowery tent in a pool of sweat and get out of there as quick as I can. It was at this point I noticed that my supply of beer had already heated up to a temperature that even us British would consider to be a tad too warm to consume, ah well, it stopped me having a beer for breakfast anyway! What? I was on holiday! So after a healthy breakfast of coffee and fruit, we headed down to see some live music, first up I went to watch Natureboy on the main stage with a special guest appearance from the lovely Alice Russell. They played a wicked set, proper put me in the mood for the rest of the weekend, much lying around on the grass chilling out in the sunshine.
Next up, we took a quick wander over to the cocktail bar to catch a DJ set by Andrea Trout. She was playing some amazing seventies soul, not so sure about the Sade track though Andrea! Whilst there, I had a chat to Mr Scruff about his fabulous tea tent. Apparently that very morning, he had invented a new flavour of tea wait for it Chilli and mint tea! Apparently it was rather nice, a bit spicy and ultimately minty I neglected to try that one I'm afraid. After all that talk of tea, my munchies got the better of me and we headed over to the Castle Stage to see Lou Rhodes, the vocalist for Lamb. What can I say, she was lovely. She played an amazing acoustic version of the lamb track, Gabriel. I almost dropped my pie when I heard that. Truly stunning.
Later on in the evening after a quick siesta, we headed over towards the media mix tent to catch Ursula Rucker perform live. We got there early on and caught a set by the band D'Archetypes, who were a mixture of hip hop, spoken word and comedy. They proper made me laugh when telling a story about his eighty year old grandfather that had been forced to include musli into his diet due to health reasons, but his grandfather couldn?t pronounce it properly so for the rest of his days he always thought he was getting Mussolini for breakfast. The band then incorporated this into a cheeky nod to Kelis in one of their songs, my Mussolini brings all the boys in the yard.
Then at last, Ursula Rucker graced the stage to a massive welcome from the crowd. I was well impressed with her performance, a true star who really knows how to work her audience. Definitely one of the highlights of the weekend for me
By this point, all the sunshine and beer had got to my head so I staggered off to bed for some well needed sleep. Same thing again the next day, woke up really early on due to the heat in my tent. I was up so early I really should have gone to join my girlfriend in her yoga class but the prospect of me popping yoga moves first thing in the morning probably wasn?t a good idea so I just chilled out reading my book and deciding what to go and see that day
First up, we took a wander over to see a guy called Seasick Steve perform at the Fat Tuesday bar. Now this guy was supposed to play the festival last year but ironically err, he was ill. But he was back this year and well on form. Just to give you a bit of background, Steve has spent a lot of his time in and out of county state prisons whilst living the majority of his live travelling the railroads across America. He is a true blues man and today, he showed up how to play the blues. Not content with being up on the stage on his own, he used a piece of string as a make shift guitar strap, hopped over the fence and wandered through the crowd, meeting and greeting everyone, jamming out a heavy riff on his battered guitar whilst getting the audience to sing along. How anyone could follow his act is beyond me?
Next up it was over to the main stage to see a band I have wanting to see for err let me see Fourteen years, four months and nineteen days. That's right, Arrested Development were taking to the stage with pretty much their original line up. Speech and Baba Oje were in fine form, playing tracks from their classic album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of... I was really pleased to manage to see this band at last and they topped off a fine set with a cover version of Bob Marley - Redemption Song. Later in the evening, Bugz in the Attic were bringing their live crew to the main stage for a bit of broken beat action. They were sounding good and hearing them play Consequences put me in a proper good mood for the rest of the evening.
I met up with my girlfriend and we took a wander over to the castle stage to watch Sebastian Tellier play live and how bizarre it was as well. At one point he managed to light a cigarette, stuff it up his nose and smoke it whilst singing a song, note perfect and without batting an eyelid like it was a perfectly normal thing to do. Swapping between playing grand piano, guitar and generally making sweet French loving to all the stage equipment, Tellier and his Oompah-loompah resembling stage partner really added a strange Gainsbourg-esque performance to the evening. Great stuff. Next up we took a wander up to the Sanctuary Stage to watch Psapp. They played a really good show and ended with an amazing cover version of the track from the Disney film, the Aristocats, Everybody wants to be a cat. The only downside to the Sanctuary Stage was me and my girlfriend were under attack from a small army of flying ants. Believe me, I swear it was only us that were effected by this, looking round, we were the only ones being bombarded by the evil little sods. Bah! Once it had gone dark we took a quick wander around the Arts Trail which this year, was incredibly dull. The best part of it was overhearing someone up near the top of the site shouting, "This tree isn't working!" at one of the installations which was meant to be an audio tree or something. I saw Brian Eno's 777 million paintings, I wasn't very impressed. It was a bit like someone had left their play station on and it had overheated
Back down at the Sanctuary stage, we were in for a real treat
Tonto's Expanding Headband. Now back in the seventies, Stevie Wonder had recruited Tontos to produce some of his most funky albums ever produced, including the hits Superstition and Living in the City. Unfortunately the original synth is now too fragile to transport anywhere but their original studio so they had brought a few synths along with them
We only stuck around for a while because I wanted to catch a set by Phil Hartnoll with his new project Longrange. It was good to hear them, with Phil programming the beats, the project is very reminiscent of early Orbital records, yet with a more distinct live feel. Well worth seeking out when their album is released
So Sunday crept up on us, far too fast as always, but promising some of the best acts of the weekend. As usual, my traditional start to a Big Chill Sunday was to sit down at the castle stage, read the newspaper and listen to Another Fine Day who were as beautiful as ever. Next up, another tradition, Norman Jay on the main stage doing his Good Times set, and what a storming set he played this year, a massive crowd puller as ever, but practically the whole festival jumping around to tracks ranging from Inner City - Big Fun to Paul Simon - Late In The Evening. Oh yeah, as ever, the sun was hot, bright and shining. Next up was Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators who were fantastic but had a relatively small crowd due to the fact that most people had ran over to the Castle Stage to see Lily Allen (yeah I know Some people eh?).
So how do you finish the perfect weekend? Well I chose to take in a DJ set by Marc Mac who was playing tracks from the upcoming 4 Hero album (but is not due out until next year) What can I say though, they sounded amazing, I don?t think I can wait that long for them! And to the last band of the festival, the Heritage Orchestra featuring special guest Deodato. Now I was lucky enough to see these guys play in London a few weeks before the Big Chill festival so I knew what to expect. They were really late in starting due to the fact that the poor sound engineers had to check levels on a 42 piece orchestra and by that point the crowd were getting kind of restless due to the fact it had started to rain. However, any complaints were soon silenced as the Heritage Orchestra began their show. They are unbelievably good, an amazing band to see live, only bettered by the appearance of the Brazilian legend, Deodato. Finishing with the fantastic track, Also Sprach Zarathustra, Deodato's take on 2001 A Space Odyssey . Obviously this just was not enough for the crowd who were loving every minute of it. Much to the disgust of the stage manager who was telling the band it was time to pull the plug and finish the festival, The Heritage Orchestra managed to play one more track to a jubilant crowd. They got 4 Hero's vocalist, Carina Anderson to join them on stage for a magical rendition of the Rotary Connection classic, Les Fleur. What an amazing way to finish the weekend
Pete and Katrina who organise the festival came on stage to give their thanks for another fine year and then that was it for another year
This year was the best festival I have been to for a long time, my thanks go out to the organiser, the bands, the pie stalls and all the people there that helped make the weekend so special. If you get chance, do yourself a favour and book time off for Big Chill 2007, you won't regret it!