Space Adventures at Jodrell Bank.


Hello friends. It’s been a while. Apparently there’s been nothing remarkable to blog about in the last month, by which I mean there’s been nothing I feel the need to rant about on here. Which I find disappointing to say the least, but as far as I’m aware there is soon to be the next series of ‘Mad Men’ about AND the new ‘Sherlock’ come autumn time, so we should be well-supplied. Thinking about it I could have reviewed ‘Game of Thrones’ but I think everyone else was doing that too.

So. To business. As the title suggests, this weekend I was up in the North country (with companions Benchlad and Patrick) for what happens to be a much more talked about musical event then I had anticipated. And it would seem a lot more people know about Jodrell Bank than I thought. Do you know about such things? If not, it’s a space observatory pretty much in the middle of nowhere (I’d say for obvious light-related reasons, but the Lovell Telescope is in fact a radio telescope, as Tim the Scientist told us), the nearest place being Macclesfield, somewhere else I’d never been too. The North is still general unconquered territory for me. So imagine the scene – THIS is the Lovell Telescope –

And the stage is that tiny thing next to it. Tiny in comparison anyway. So there we were, Benchlad, Patrick and I, on a sunny afternoon around 5pm, in the shadow of this huge beast, enjoying the weather, the rudimentary bar, the lack of genuine ladz and trying to ignore the somewhat painful sounds of Ok, Go! (who kept saying “Hello Manchester!”) as they warmed up for the next and much better bands. Really, what niche does this band fill? It depresses me that they have a Wikipedia page that’s about four times the size of British Sea Power, who are obviously better and who were on next.

Now I don’t know if I told you, but I kind of love Bsp. In fact I really love them. I love them so much I let them do things on stage that, were other bands to do them, I would call them idiotic, insane, eccentric and moronic. All these but the last apply to Sea Power. Seeing them makes me genuinely happy, and no amount of pints poured on me or toes trodden on at one of their gigs would put me off. What’s even better is that none of these happen at their shows as their fans are so gentle and usually quite stoic. As are the band, when not performing. The set was pretty impressive, Benchlad was very pleased with the inclusion of ‘Cleaning out the Rooms’, I was surprised by the inclusion of ‘No Lucifer’ and ‘Waving Flags’, mainly because they’re bigger numbers therefore a little overplayed, and we were treated to a rare appearance from Ursine Ultra, the band’s 8 foot bear. Really. Apparently it was Shaun Keaveny in this bear suit, but I’m not sure. He did battle with a Bacofoil Robot who had been fashioned out of litter found at the site, and by the end I think only the arms were left and Ursine was flailing on the ground. This was all during the ‘Do anything’ freakout at the end of the set which they seem to do most of the time. These are the kind of antics that I would think other bands were pretentious and irksome for, but not these chaps. No I don’t know why not. One thing you can’t deny is how immense their on-stage wardrobe is though –

For me, musically, this event was all about Sea Power, but the next band did kind of make an impression on me too. They were the Flaming Lips, or the Flips as is easier to call them. I’d never really warmed to them via Spotify or iTunes, so i was apprehensive, dubious and wanting to be impressed. I’m a very hard task-master when it comes to new bands.

There had been a lot of talk about the bizarre things they do on-stage during the day, and these rumours were not wrong – Wayne Coyne really does roll over the crowd in what he likes to call a “space bubble”, which is effectively a giant hamster ball. It was odd. It did look like good, if not somewhat dangerous, fun. It didn’t stop after that – we were bombarded with HUGE coloured balloons, confetti and streamers, after which came lasers and oversized (to say the least) baseball-gloved hands. It was insane. It was almost like the music was a secondary thought to the spectacle we had been presented with, but when I managed to pay attention to it it was better than I had expected. I was all but in tears for the final number ‘Do You Realize??’, partly because one of the members of the stage show had just proposed to his girlfriend in front of everyone (I’m not smushy at all), and partly because I find that song unbelievably sad. But there was a Benchlad to squeeze and I was so tired by the end of it (you know the relief from curling your back forwards after a long musical evening?) that I fell asleep as soon as we got home. Which was about 90 minutes after the gig finished as there was something of a lack of car park attendants.. Not to worry, it was an outstanding day, perfect setting, and I want them to do it again next year. Please.

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