The Big Chill, Eastnor Castle Deer Park, Herefordshire

Easy-going favourites are hot stuff
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The Independent Culture

"Get any more chill, this place is gonna be a mortuary," grumbles ex-Faith No More man Mike Patton. But really, the Big Chill remains a healingly relaxed, eclectic festival. Even Sunday's closing act, Lily Allen, is uncharacteristically dressed down, for well-publicised reasons. "'Scuse my very casual clothes, but I'm pregnant," she nervously laughs, blaming her safety-conscious boyfriend for unpacking her high heels. He left her well-balanced, rapidly maturing attitude intact, in a jaunty, career-spanning set.

Thom Yorke and Massive Attack could have been dauntingly downbeat Friday headliners. Yorke's good-natured solo set instead asks, what if Radiohead's music arrived as straighter, gentler songs, by a check-shirted, angst-free troubadour? He sounds happier with his band's baggage abandoned. Massive Attack's Robert Del Naja arrives smarting from their latest LP's underwhelming reception. But Martina Topley-Bird gives torch-song glamour to "Teardrop". Some in the crowd sway, eyes closed, recalling decade-old dance days, now turned into over-familiar head music.

Saturday night's cross-section of current R&B and hip-hop begins with Tinie Tempah's exuberant celebration of 2010 smashes such as "Pass Out". It's grime as expletive-laden family fun. Kelis is strangely characterless, the American star's mere presence, singing "Milkshake", seems enough. Roots Manuva is a little too raggedly laid-back, while Plan B mashes up moshpit punk and raw rap with the new soul man persona which, like his suit, he can't help bursting out of. Transglobal Tamil London pop star MIA has overly private fun with her own gang on stage, till hundreds swarm on at her invitation, smashing her set into scenes of happy chaos.

Individuals and outsiders abound on smaller stages, from Caribou's psychedelic grooves to Liars' alt.rock shaman. Jamaican band from the 1950s The Jolly Boys are the best, belated discovery. Sharp-dressed singer Albert Minott, 72, gives conversational truth and Biblical weight to JA-refreshed rock hits from the Stones to "Rehab". Another happy surprise is Ashley Beedle's "Mavis" project. Here, Lambchop's Kurt Wagner is an intellectual soul singer, word-spitting and cigarette-jabbing. Soul great Candi Staton follows him, reclaiming "You've Got the Love" to a suddenly filled tent of dancing fools. The Big Chill briefly turns red hot.