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2004

All over the place.

A feature to celebrate the fact that The Big Chill, the organisation behind some of the best music and events was now 10 years old.

Future Music magazine hooked up with co-founder Pete Lawrence and fellow key artists Bruce Bickerton and Tom Middleton to come up with a birthday track in just one day.

The Big Chill 10th Anniversary Concert

To celebrate the Big Chill’s inaugural parties at the Union Chapel, Pete and Katrina and all at Big Chill Central organised this anniversary party at their original home.

What a lovely party. Loads of familiar faces, and a lineup that has reflected the Chill over the previous ten years. The acts included Sounds from the Ground, Global Communication, Mixmaster Morris, Hexstatic, Coldcut, Paul Gathercole, Pete Lawrence/Alan James, Ulrich Schnauss and alucidnation.

Spread over two rooms, one downstairs and one upstairs, the whole thing exuded warmth and congeniality.

My set was pretty special in the respect that during my accompanying slideshow, I incorporated six slides of my friends Kate & Kieran whilst she asked for his hand in marriage. Of course, he was somewhat freaked out, but accepted!

This event sold out in 30 minutes!

June
Big Chill in Prague

The Big Chill Soundsystem were invited out to the beautiful Eastern European city of Prague to spend a day in the company of the Algida Chill Out Festival. It was the first time that Prague had witnessed such a thing, and regardless of the fact that it’d been raining for the two days prior to the event, spirits didn’t appear to be dampened.

There were two stages, one indoor (where Big Chill artists were performing) and the other outdoor, both on a small island on the river that runs through the capita city.

I was due on after Laura B, and I think I played a really nice set – its rare for me to really enjoy performing, but I really had a good time!

Highlights included Mixmaster Morris playing a sublime set, and Pete Lawrence playing a sadly under-attended set, due to him clashing with Bent on the other stage. They were good too, although the sound system was distorting a bit.

The event finished at about 10pm, and we were taken out for a slap up meal, after which we were ushered to the Roxy for the after-show bash, where things got a bit messy. Morris played another great set in the chill out room, while Dzihan and Kamien played a four to the floor set in the main room with accompanying visuals by our resident VJs Amukidi and The Ombudsman.

A great experience!

June 26-28
Glastonbury Festival

I was invited to play Glastonbury by the Glade Stage this year…it turned out to be a very different experience from the one that I’d expected, to be honest. Maybe I’m getting older, but it did seem to me that there were a hell of a lot of youngsters there. Michael Eavis himself did admit that they were going for the ‘younger punter’ this year…

I arrived on the Thursday morning about 5am and then waited in a queue for about three hours, during which time Stuart and I managed to get rather twatted on RedStripe and spliff. The biggest buzz was being able to drive across the site to the Glade, where we had designated parking. We were in a secure backstage compound, which lessened the worry of leaving stuff in your vehicle. The downside was that it was bloody noisy!

We were camped next to George Evelyn (Nightmares on Wax)… I was told when I arrived on site by Biff (Glade organiser) that the stage was still in the process of being erected, so all entertainment for the Thursday day and night was being moved into the Glade Cafe, a massive marquee with a 10K rig in it. He also asked me if I was up for playing from 3-8am instead of my original allocated 1.30-4am slot. Of course I said “OK” – I don’t know why, but I thought that the Glade stage was a pretty low-key thing. How wrong I was!

When I turned up to play, the act before me (A Man called Adam) were ripping it up to an audience of about 4000 people – there wasn’t anything else going on on-site, so everyone there wanted a bloody good knees-up. To be honest, I was really fucking nervous.. After all, the majority of tunes that I’d brought along was either very mellow or ambient, as I’d been told that I would be playing a mellow set. However, I had a fantastic collection of deep-house stuff on my external USB HD, so keeping the audience interested wouldn’t have been a problem. I agreed to let Sally and Steve play on an extra hour, seeing as a) they were playing a great set, and b) that they’d got on an hour late themselves.

Anyway, the time came for me to plug in and play, which I duly did, but just as I was about to play my first tune, a guy came up to me and said “look – sorry about this, but we’ve got to close the venue”. I laughed and said “yeah; right!”, but he repeated himself and explained that due to the main Glade stage not being finished, they had to get all the ravers out so that they could get plant vehicles and machinery onto site so as to hit their deadline. I was gutted, yet relieved at the same time – it was only the morning after that disappointment reared its head. I could have had the audience in my hand very easily – had a cracking selection of tunes to play..

Glastonbury is just WAY too big – I think that I’ve become spoilt going to smaller festies where there’s more of a vibe happening.

The weather was mixed – the friday was a right scorcher – I even got sunburn!!! However, Saturday was a mudfest. Best performances for me were : My Morning Jacket, Damien Rice, Longview, Squarepusher, Oasis (bits of it anyway), NatureBoy, and, well… that was about it!

The major low point was trying to get off-site on the monday and getting stuck in the mud, and then once nearly out of the site, with the exit in sight, we sustained a flat tyre! However, thanks to some seriously friendly lads from Port Talbot who helped us get the wheel changed, we were able to get on our merry way. I was almost overcome with the kindness that these guys showed. Little things like that restore my faith in mankind.

July 4
Common Ground Festival, Clapham, London

Live
Moloko
Soul II Soul SoundSystem
Eighties Match Box B-line Disaster
The Dub Pistols
The Bays
Alucidnation
Laura B
A Man called Adam
Grandadbob
Hexstatic
Bonobo
DJ Food

DJ
Pete Lawrence
Leggo Beast
DJ Yam
Justin Robertson
DJ Touché
Jon Moore

This was the first year that the Big Chill had been invited to play at this annual music event on Clapham Common in Central London. Part of a weekend of music, the headliners [an organisers] were Groove Armada.

Our tent was great, a haven away from the general madness. Having played at Glastonbury the weekend before, I wasn’t really up for a long day, so I decided to drive into town and literally do my appearance and then get out of there.

My gig went well. Murray Clarke (Leggo Beast) had played before Laura B, who was playing when I arrived. Her set sounded good – I listened to it as I was setting up my gear. Once I got on, I played a set that was almost identical to the one I’d performed out in Prague… it seemed to go down well. ‘I’m Not Bad’ got a good reaction as usual!!

Guy Morley (Yam Yam) came on after me and played some great records. Then, Pete Lawrence came on to DJ for a while, but unfortunately I had to leave at that point.

The food concession was good too… had a lovely vegetarian dish as well as my main meal!

What a greedy bastard.

August
Big Chill Festival, Eastnor

Featuring the largest lineup to date, this was the biggest Big Chill yet. With approximately 27,000 people on-site including crew, it was a huge gig. Sprawling over a larger site than ever before, it still managed somehow to keep the intimacy which the Chill was famed for.

The only times when the sheer numbers of folk on site became noticeable was at night, when you were trying to walk through some of the ‘bottlenecks’ at the gates. Apart from that, the site felt relatively uncluttered.

Musically, this year was more diverse than ever before, due to the increased number of stages. One of my critisisms from past years was that the ‘dance’ element was too evident. This year, the balance was redressed by the arrival of the ‘Sanctuary’ area, which catered for the more ambient and chilled end of the musical spectrum. in hindsight though, it should have occupied an open-air stage, as opposed to under canvas…

The reason I say this is because the weather was absolutely gorgeous. I don’t know whether Pete and Katrina have sold their souls to the devil, but remarkably the weather had been unusually good for the past three years – this year was no exception; the sun coming out for the entire period, with beautiful moonlit chilly nights, which counteracted the heat of the daytime.

I was very busy, running around doing something every day of the festival, which is just the way I like it, although truth be told, I was bloody knackered by the end of it…

The plan was to drive down to the site on the Wednesday evening, but Ed Richardson (my old friend and VJ) arrived from Yorkshire with Dave Meakes – after a few drinks, we realised that we weren’t going anywhere that night. We decided to delay our departure until the following morning – actually ending up leaving at about 1.15pm on the Thursday. On arrival at the site, we sorted out our tickets and rather fortuitously found our traditional spot in the quiet camping area.

Thursday night was my only night ‘off’, so I made good use of it, relaxing with my mates.

Friday was spent enjoying the first day of the festival ‘proper’. My first commitment was to try to make it to an interview on Big Chill FM for 9am, where my friend Stuart Nisbet had played a lovely set the evening before.

The interview went well with Susanna Glaser – we had quite a laugh doing it. Then my next job was to play alongside Laura B as ‘Survival of the Slowest’ that same night in the Sanctuary tent. As per usual, we didn’t really know what the hell we were going to do and I think that this was reflected in our performance, which felt a bit disjointed in all honesty. We still enjoyed ourselves, though!

Saturday was spent giving Jake Bickerton a bit of moral support for his debut gig at the Big Chill. Bar a few technical difficuties due to his backing tracks skipping on a cheap portable CD player (cretin!!) I thought that his gig was a real success. Patrick Bickerton on the bass guitar did a sterling job, and the addition of a live percussionist really added some life to his tracks. Then later that night (very much later in fact – 3am-5am) Ulrich Schnauss and myself DJed to the superb visual accompaniment of John Rixon and Simon. I played some of my favourite contemporary music, and Ulrich did the same. It transpired that We have quite similar tastes…

Sunday was my busiest day. After a bit of sleep, I found myelf at Tom Middleton’s tent, where I played a selection of my top tunes, including John Martyn, Led Zep, Pink Floyd, ELO and a bit of dub. It was fucking ROASTING in the tent – the sweat was literally dripping off me. After this, I had a film crew follow me around for the afternoon for a documentary that was shown on Channel Four later that year… Dom Phillips was the director, formerly the editor of MixMag.

My main gig of the festival took place that evening at 8.45 on the Chill Stage, as alucidnation. I had a FANTASTIC time – usually I get about halfway through a gig and wonder what I’m doing on stage, but this didn’t happen this time. I had the perfect audience – everyone sitting down and listening properly – quite a large audience as it goes! Consequently, I came off stage feeling quite elated.

Then I had a brief respite until I had to make my way to the main stage for the finale, where Stuart Warren Hill had compiled a spoof TOTP rundown, with Jimmy Saville ‘compering’ – very amusing.. ‘I’m Not Bad’ made the top twenty Big Chill Classics rundown coming in at a respectable 16. I’d put together a little 1 minute video the weekend before – seemed to go down very well! Then after this, the idea was for me, Pete Lawrence, Tom Middleton and Ella Lawrence to perform the Big 10 anniversary tune on the stage. However, it was down to me in the end to perform it on my own, which was more than a little intimidating! Wandering around on stage in your underwear in front of 10000 people isn’t always a good idea.

After this, I was looking forward to my last duty, which was playing live on Big Chill FM at 5am thru to 7am whereafter Mixmaster Morris took over from me. For me, this was the highlight of my festival – I really got into the show and did some great mixing..

All in all, I had a great time. Roll on next year.

August 6th – 8th
Photonic, Soest, Holland

I was very excited and honoured to be asked to play at the Photonic Festival in a place called Soest in Holland at the start of August, the weekend after Eastnor.

What was great was that this was the first gig that I’d been booked for that was completely independent from the Big Chill; the organisers had checked out my website and were vibed enough to book me on the strength of what they saw and heard!

I was flown in to Amsterdam airport for my first visit to this part of Europe and was met by Pieter, one of the organisers who then drove me to the site of the festival – a good hour’s drive away.

I was blown away by the site – an absoultely stunning woodland setting with an old amptitheatre that looked down onto the main stage.

There was a capacity crowd in both nights; people had travelled from near and far to see what was going on. My cousin Patrick, along with Cal, Jim and Dave also made the effort to come and check it out, having travelled from the UK! In fact, I managed to get Pat and Jim a set on the secondary chill stage, which they thoroughly enjoyed!

My sets took place on the first night – I played a DJ set initially before it got dark, and then later on, I played live. The projections were projected onto the canvas over the stage which was seriously effective.

Other acts included Digitonal, who played a fantastic set, and Mixmaster Morris (excellent as you’d expect…) from the UK.

A bloody great experience!