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The Big Chill 2006

Before I start rambling, I just have to say that in my opinion, this was the best Big Chill gala since they left the confines of the Larmer Tree Gardens in 2002. Although the crowd capacity was increased from 2005, it felt more intimate and spacious. I think the layout of the site and the addition of the new improved Sanctuary Stage on the hillside over looking the site made a massive difference.

Neil Patterson and I left my place in the Chilterns on Thursday afternoon, after pissing about for what seemed like eons. Don’t know about you, but I always get a little bit stressed before attending an event like this one – I think it’s a bit of nervous anticipation before hitting the site – not knowing whether you’re going to get a good pitch, wanting to arrive and get settled in – get the van parked up, the awning sorted, etc. Neil and I rocked up at about 6pm, met Ed and Dave from Yorkshire and sorted ourselves out with tickets and then found the rest of the family in live-in vehicles, which had moved even further away from the main site this year! Good and bad news – in order to get to the festival, you were looking at about a half hour walk!!

Still, never mind, we had a choice spot and no mistaking. This was the first Big Chill that I’d been to without my other half – Nina wasn’t in attendance, which was strange but liberating in some respects. I was determined to enjoy myself and get out and about and meet and socialise all weekend. Which I did! The Thursday night was spent chilling out at base, catching up with family and close buddies. In fact, I don’t think I got to bed much before 4am that night.

I was awoken later on that morning at about 8am by a phone call from Marcus Bailey, who’d just landed on site and was looking for me amongst a sea of camper vans. After finding us, we caught up with one another briefly and then a group of us decided to take a walk down onto the site to check out what was what.

Friday was my ‘day off’, so I made good use of it, seeing Tunng on the all new Village Green stage – a fantastic addition to the festival. Tunng were great; everywhere I looked whilst I was sitting down there appeared to be someone I knew, so it was a grand opportunity to catch up with friends too! The rest of the day was a bit of a haze, thanks to Steve’s beautiful space cake… thinking about it, most of the weekend was a haze; testiment to his baking skills!

Anyway, enough waffling… my first gig of the weekend occured on the Saturday night, late in the club tent. To be honest, I was sceptical about the late night ambient sessions taking place in a space as cavernous and featureless as the club tent. Truth be told, the club tent was, up until that night the only tent I’d never entered at Eastnor! I turned up just as Andy Scruff was finishing his set with one of the best edits of ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’ I’ve ever heard. The place was fucking HEAVING.

I’ve got to hand it to the staff – they cleared everyone out at the end of Scruffs’ set and decorated the whole place simply but really effectively – seagrass on the floors, a few beanbags, some plants, other decor – it really worked beautifully… They re-opened the tent at about 2.45am and hundreds of people spilled in, filling the space pretty fast. The audience were superb – everyone sat down and just enjoyed the music. My set was typically eclectic – can’t really recall what I played – although I do know that I spun John Surman, Human League, a bit of my own stuff and some dub… really enjoyed myself! Ben Mynott came on a bit later to wrap up proceedings with a lovely set – big up yourself, man!

The Sunday saw me performing on the all new Sanctuary Stage – my live alcudnation gig with Ed supporting me with the visuals. My only critism of this new space was the lack of attention to detail re: the screens – they were POXY – too small and not enough power for the projectors. But the space was great – little if no soundspill from the main stage and being surrounded by trees, lit beautifully by Muffled Visions gave the impression of being in a smaller, more intimate space. I came on at 8pm, and was pleased to see the area filling up quickly as I began. My setlist comprised recently penned material, with some revamped oldies (but goodies) chucked into the mix. The track that I was most excited about performing, a new one called ‘Solitaire’ got a fantastic reaction! REALLY enjoyed myself, and the audience wanted more, MORE at the end, which I guess is a good sign..

Later that night, I had my traditional Big Chill FM slot at 5am before Mixmaster Morris. Last year, I lunched out and didn’t make it, so I was determined to turn up and have a blast, which I most certainly did. Played some great music, right across the board, and once I’d finished at about 7am, I hung around to listen to Morris DJ a fantastic selection of new sounds… Finally crawled into bed at about 10am, only to be woken at 2.30pm to pack up camp. Neil and I decided to venture into Wales for a couple of days, so we ended up in Crickhollow near Abergavenny for the night, venturing over to Llanntony the following day for a spot of chill time.

What a weekend!!!