Back for the first time post COVID, Bluedot festival has a special place in the heart of many a Mancunian. Making its debut back in 2016, the festival combines music, art, science, comedy and community to create an out of this world celebration that’s based at one of science’s most important UK observatories.
Previous years have seen the likes of New Order, Hot Chip, Orbital and Pixies headline its stages, and 2022’s line-up is arguably one of its best ever, coming back with a bang after 2 years of forced cancellations due to the pandemic.
There’s so much more to Bluedot than just the music, and the festival’s trademark ‘unusual’ programming hasn’t gone amiss this year, with everything from Liverpool’s School of Tropical Medicine to telescope projections and Big Fish Little Fish’s Cosmic Disco all taking place across the three days.
As happy campers start to arrive at the site today, we’ve put together our personal round up of who we think you should check out across the three days. And yes, OF COURSE Björk made the cut.
Julie Campbell AKA Lonelady is a true electronic-pop pioneer. Her groove-stricken music is a nod to bands of the 80s including Yazoo, Pink Rhythm and The System, who blend rare disco with punchy synth rhythms to create music that truly makes you move. Her live performance is also captivating, as her industrial-esque sound is played out across various instruments including, guitars, drum machines and stacked synths, depicting the DIY Manc heritage and its industrial past.
It goes without saying that Bjork’s avant garde, atmospheric influence on modern-day music will be a bucket list treat to see live. The Icelandic singer rose to fame in the early 90s with her 1993 debut album ‘Debut’ that had an undeniable impact on female-led pop music as we know it and she hasn’t stopped making expertly crafted and composed music ever since. Her live show at Bluedot will be her first in the UK for years, and you can expect all her usual performance mastery from complex costume changes to full orchestral renditions of her biggest hits.
A truly unshakable figure in the current experimental pop scene, Jane Weaver’s career has been heavily influenced by Manchester’s Factory Records and pioneering acid house scene. Now with eight critically-acclaimed albums under her belt, the singer has reached the top of the pop game – with 2021’s ‘Flock’ immersed in glamorous, day-glo pop perfection. She’ll be performing as part of the festival’s Friday line-up.
Formed in Leeds back in 2019, Yard Act have had a fairly quick but tumultuous rise to the top. Narrated by the dulcet Northern tones of frontman James Smith, the band create post punk poetry with a raw and open honesty of the perils of working class Britain – all wrapped up in head bopping, catchy grooves and satirical humour. After a string of sold out dates across the UK and fans essentially scrambling for tickets, their appearance at Bluedot isn’t one to be missed.
A Certain Ratio
Manchester legends, A Certain Ratio have been making music since the late 70s, cultivating a cult following of post punk rockers and funk influenced fans. More recently, the band released a number of singles directly influenced by Manchester’s underground electronic scene and after hours parties, showcasing their genre spanning capabilities and ‘finger on the pulse’ approach to the changes of modern-day pop-punk electronica.
The Pankhurst Sessions
This year, Bluedot is presenting a programme of feminist reflections across literature, science and film, curated by Helen Pankhurst. Helen is the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, leaders of the British suffragette movement. She will be joined by novelist Natasha Walter, poet and writer Nikita Gill and feminist writer Laura Bates – who will also be signing copies of books ‘Everyday Sexism’, ‘Men Who Hate Women’ and ‘Fix The System, Not The Women’.
With a desire for experimentation and exploring new sounds, HAAi’s career has spanned an incredible couple of years which have seen her appear at some of the UK’s most prestigious clubs including London’s Phonox. Along the way, she’s also collaborated with heavy hitters such as Daniel Avery, The Chemical Brothers, Romy & Fraser T Smith, contributed the track Good Ol’Fashioned Rugs to Jayda G’s recent DJ-Kicks, played B2B sets with the likes of The Blessed Madonna, Mall Grab, Jayda G, Daniel Avery and headlined both her own sold-out show at Village Underground and the dance stage at this year’s All Points East.
Working Mens Club
Off the back of their recently released second album ‘Fear Fear’, Working Mens Club are back at Bluedot with a performance sure to be miles away from the three students’ garage rock sound they debuted at the festival back in 2019. Now with a sound steeped in intimidating techno and crackling electronica, the band have found solace in the chaos and two finger angst of their live shows. A treat for everyone who decides to witness it this weekend.
Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties
Back in 2020, when the world put pause on gigs and live shows due to the pandemic, Charlatan’s frontman Tim Burgess brought music geeks of the globe together online via Twitter to host realtime album playbacks. Paul McCartney, New Order and Kylie were just a handful of the guests on Time’s listening parties that have also now been turned into a book with exclusive backstage images and insider info. Tim will celebrate some of his favourite albums over the weekend, alongside some very special guests.
An MC with tones derived straight from the streets of Brooklyn, Goya Gumbani oozes a serene calmness with his music. A decade of collaborations in his new UK home inspired a back-to-back stream of EPs in 2020 with South London beatmakers Rago Foot and Kiina. The result is an elegant crossover into SE1’s modern jazz community that takes musical inspiration from both sides of the pond.