The Big Chill 2011 review
This wasn't going to be about Kanye, honest
This wasn't going to be about Kanye West. It really wasn't. He would have been a footnote in a piece that reminisced wistfully about The Big Chill of old, arguing that pockets of the original vibe and feel still remain. A yarn about how the UK's attempts at the American sound (Jessie J, Chipmunk) lack the execution and Vegas-professionalism of their contemporaries. How Janelle Monae (10/10) mesmerises on the main stage. It would've enthused and argued that the reader should seek out Aloe Blacc (10/10) hoping they too would become besotted by his smooth swagger and smile, his sharp showmanship and 70s cop show garb.
There would be mention too of The Bullitts (9/10), explaining that as a self-coined 5-D concept, they could probably do with updating their Twitter a little more frequently, maybe use that screen onstage behind them and how, as their lead actress, Lucy Liu should learn her lines so a stage hand doesn't have to bend over to pick up pages of script if suddenly the wind picks up and it showers heavily. It would've gone on to enthuse about their funk-tronic take on hip hop, their affirming live performance, possibly even including a throwaway (and maybe injudicious) opinion on how Jay Electronica is a more pleasing flowsmith than the likes of say, Lil Wanye or Tyler, The Creator.
If there was room, Mr Scruff's lakeside comedown cove would have been hailed a haven of grandma-like cosiness,
questioning though if the prices have gone up a little. There would have been a note that Craig Charles (8/10) is still, rightly, enjoying a twilight period as a funk supremo and
maybe how vacuous mainstream dross like Example and Calvin Harris show organisers' profiteering
intelligence as they try to entice a new generation of Big Chill regulars. (This would have been spun positively
though, suggesting it's the missing link for long-term Chillers, giving their teens an excuse to disappear from their parents
for a while so they can continue to rave like it's '89, safe in the knowledge they can go back to working on those tricky
tax returns on Monday.)
There could have been a frittering of pattern spotting too, reflecting that the Sunday line-up echoes the original Big Chill ethos best, judging the likes of Norman Jay (9/10), DJ Derek (8/10) and Femi Kuti (9/10) with superlatives instead of using scores out of ten as if suffice for the effort they've actually put in here. It would've wildly suggested too that Rodrigo y Gabriela (8/10) are rapturous but better off with an afternoon set, but that's okay because most people have buggered off anyway.
But Kanye West (9/10) hasn't allowed this, there is
too much from him alone to work into this review. He turns up late - his tour bus can be seen trundling along the rosemary
rump of the Malvern Hills like the sodding Coca Cola Christmas ad - with a sore throat affecting what is otherwise a bombastic,
over the top slice of egotistical superstardom: fireworks, dancing angels, Amy Winehouse songs, dry ice - the whole Hollywood
shebang. Great, you'd think, but he then pauses after 'Monster' to moan about the tough deal he's had since becoming
famous, as if we even give a damn about European award ceremonies and how tired he is. So apologies, there isn't the room
to wax lyrical on the best 2011 has to offer like Neneh Cherry
(7/10) getting her mojo back or Wild Beasts (9/10) proving
they're the best guitar outfit in Britain today. Hopefully there's space for this moan though: Mr West, that 'Runaway'
song is shite, I always skip it.