Massive Attack, M.I.A

Ed Williams 05/08/2010

With a line up to shame some of the biggest around, The Big Chill had the complete package. An eclectic cross-section of what one believes to be some of the brightest talent around, set before a quite splendid backdrop in the Malvern's. A Friday evening that culminated in Massive Attack seemed to aptly reflect the calm invigorating atmosphere that the grounds seemed to ooze. Political imagery ran throughout as stunning visuals complete with infectious baselines complied with the hippy roots of the festival. The Bristol duo complete with full band managed to greatly enhance the impact of songs such as 'Unfinished Symphony', 'Angel' and of course the huge hit 'Teardrop'. This, coupled with the embers of a Thom Yorke set, made for a special evening.

Saturday would suffer one criticism as the festival didn't seem to come alive until much later in the evening. Patrick Wolf's appearance on the main stage, The Deer Park, albeit spirited mustered small hundreds. Enter R&B-come-dance princess Kelis who really got the party started with classics such as 'Trick Me', 'Milkshake', 'Millionaire' and the more recent 'Acapella' which really got the Revellers tent bouncing with her fierce attitude and popular back catalogue.

Plan B's much anticipated set was extinguished by his unfortunate clash with the magnificent M.I.A. Some of the loudest most poignant tunes from the songstress hypnotised the thousands as there was a genuine feeling of a moment in history being made via thunderous renditions of 'Galang' 'Boyz' 'Bucky Done Gun' and of course 'Paper Planes' which incited a stage invasion which cut short her set due to health and safety reasons.

Sunday the 8th of August would mark a sad day in 21st century pop music with Lily Allen's swansong appearance on the Deer Park Stage, for the time being. Her luscious set engaged the crowd despite her dressed down appearance which was obviously aided by her recent pregnancy accouncement and her boyfriend's admission that she shouldn't wear heels on stage. Her voice was on top form and Professor Green's injection to 'Just Be Good To Green' were welcome. One could only ask for new material from the starlet.

A dash of Paloma Faith in the early evening was refreshing; songs were excitingly reworked to incorporate a strong band and Faith's vocals contrasted pleasantly with her kooky banter: “Life's a box of chocolates and then you dress like one” in reference to her elaborate purple dress which was a striking resemblance to the purple Quality Street wrapper.

Other notable performances included a haunting small set by Liars on the Clash Stage and Jamaican Gregory Isaacs, aka 'The Cool Ruler' dubbed by his on-stage band, played a chilled out main stage slot which encouraged the crowd to dig out their reggae roots. An intimate performance with The Magic Numbers on the VIP Tree Stage seemed to capture the warm essence of the wonderful festival that will only grow in years to come.

There was not only music on offer at The Big Chill. Spencer Tunick, renowned for his large art installations of nude people, did just that on early Sunday Morning. Around 500 festival goers bravely volunteered and were painted in blue, yellow, pink and black in reference to the recent oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico. For their involvement they will obtain a limited edition print of the photograph and also the fact they've been apart of Festival History.

With its first year with Festival Republic and many to come, The Big Chill can only grow with popularity and contend with the big summer festival names as it certainly fit's the bill boasting other aspects like comedy, art, poetry and music. A big chilled out event indeed.

Photos by Hollie Cookson: