Grace Jones shines at festival despite rain

Lady Gaga

Grace Jones never would have imagined that she would perform in front of a dwindling audience and worsening weather when she was hired to close Bluedot.

But on Sunday night, the ever-idiosyncratic star was there, ferociously mowing her own lane in front of the equally powerful Lovell Telescope.

It's understandable why she took a while to enter the stage.

She strode across the stage nearly 30 minutes past her scheduled time, saying, "Blame it on the rain, but I do like walking in it. ".

The majority of people who stayed at the Cheshire festival had come to embrace this sentiment.

Tilda Swinton
Tilda Swinton, an Oscar winner, read aloud the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

After all, as the organizers battled the elements to reach the finish line, torrential rain had caused cars to be towed from fields, camping plans to be abandoned, and day tickets for the event's final day to be canceled.

Of course, this is not how it was intended to end.

Three days prior, a serene Tilda Swinton had appeared on stage with composer Max Richter to read passages from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights during the show's opening night performance, which had been held under the clear blue skies.

By Friday though, the cracks in the weather started to show, despite the strength and uniqueness of the offerings.

Few festivals do unique quite like Bluedot, as its mix of music, arts, comedy and huge heaps of science throws up the sort of moments that stay with you long after you've packed up your tent.

Where else can you find a main stage presentation by astrophysicist Professor Tim O'Brien that includes a "shout out at the front for the electromagnetic spectrum," a performance in mostly Welsh and Cornish by singer Gwenno that includes the claim that she has the "largest congregation singing about cheese" ever at a festival, or a remake of the popular children's television show Knightmare from the late 1980s that makes the assertion that the only thing worse than death or torture is

CMAT was one of the highlights of Friday's main stage offerings.
Roisin Murphy
Roisin Murphy's costumes were every bit as thrilling as her songs.

If ever an act was made for such a mixture, it was Friday night headliner Roisin Murphy, who worked her way through almost as many fine moves and outrageous outfits as killer tunes.

But even before the euphoria of her performance began to fade, the first real raindrops began to fall and there on, the weather took its toll, diminishing the main stage crowds and pushing people to the site's tented stages.

Not that size matters to everyone.  Uigg resident Johnny Lynch's excitement at seeing more than his usual 100 or so island neighbours was such that he bounced on stage with his Pictish Trail outfit one minute early, declaring those 60 seconds "bonus time for us and you".

He used them widely, building on the good feelings already generated by Bluedot favourites Henge and the festival's usual, although this time slightly weather-worn and bedraggled, parade of maquettes, marching bands and mushroom-hatted revellers, to kick Saturday into gear with an array of well-crafted epic folk rock treasures.

Henge played a main stage set before leading the festival's parade through the crowd.
Nish Kumar
Nish Kumar's set was a delicious mix of unstoppable anger and hilarious jokes.

His was not the only outdoor treat, preceding as it did a brutal Sorry and the swirling majesty of Tinariwen, but as the rain grew heavier, it was a case of one band's loss is another's gain.

TVAM at least seemed surprised by the numbers they had before them on the Orbit tent, as they delivered their excellent electro indie to "a much bigger crowd than we expected".

Others also benefited too, including the tremendous Emmanuel Sonubi, whose comedy came close to upstaging the following Nish Kumar.

That was, of course, until the Mash Report stalwart hit his stride and had the Mission Control tent whooping and cheering as he eviscerated the last 13 years of government in an expletive-laden and hilarious whistle stop set.

Pavement delivered a great show in the most trying of conditions, as heavy rain lashed their audience.
Those watching the Saturday headliners will be sure that being soaked to the skin was worth it for the pleasure.

For the festival's third headliner though, an increasingly damp field must have felt a long way from California, and while Pavement persevered, their tremendous set played out to a crowd far smaller than they deserved.

The rain had, by that point, become biblical, forcing Bluedot's organisers to throw down metal walkways, mud-covering membranes and pile upon pile of wood chip in an effort to keep the site safe and the festival open.

The efforts, as great as they were, were only a partial success, meaning day tickets were cancelled and those with weekend passes who had left the site on Saturday to escape the rain were unable to return.

For those that remained, pushing on through was worth it, as while endurance and exhaustion were as much a part of Sunday as excitement and enjoyment, the rewards were manifold.

Georgia's tremendous set brought energy to the mud-soaked arena on Sunday.
Young Fathers
Young Fathers were one of the best performers of the entire weekend, showing why they are one of the country's top live acts.
Grace Jones
Jones was a fitting finale to the festival, a pioneer and an uncompromising performer showing her full range of talents.

They came in the form of Robin Ince's rib-tickling meander through the Whovian universe, Adam Buxton's always brilliant festival favourite Bug, Teleman's indie pop delights and Young Fathers, who, a day after thrilling Latitude, proved even further why they are one of the country's finest live acts with a show that burned through the gathering evening gloom.

Inevitably though, it was Jones's headline set that was the most memorable of the day.

Battling the ever worsening rain, she powered through a set of her finest moments, giving glorious poses in striking costumes a staggering number of times.

And though the costume changes made for a somewhat disjointed performance, there was no doubting her power when she hit her groove, as in a pummelling Demolition Man or the ever wonderful Pull Up To The Bumper.

She was, as it turned out, an apt end to the weekend, an uncompromising supernova of talent burning bright and warming the dancing feet of those brave few who made it to the finale.

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