When it comes to chilled-out, ambient-friendly entertainment, The Proclaimers aren't the first act that comes to mind. The brothers Craig and Charlie Reid, who played an uproarious set on the closing Sunday night of this three-day festival, have also filled-out a little since the 1980sbut, boy, do they have passion, and real songs that touch the heart. "Letter From America", "I'm Gonna Be (500 miles)" and the rest were performed amid a tumult of audience-hysteria in what felt like one continuous encore, only good. If I'd had a lighter handy, I'd have held it aloft and in true rock-style.
Brazilian jazz-funk legend Eumir Deodato, by contrast, looked like an American tourist (right), overwhelmed by the grandeur of Buckingham Palace on a crowded summer's day. Wearing a baseball cap and synthetic-fibre leisure-suit, he responded to the crowd's delirious enthusiasm as he took the stage to join the superb, 40-piece Heritage Orchestra for the festival's big finale, with endearingly modest shrugs, as if disclaiming any part in the music. Once settled in behind his keyboard-console, however, detonating dense electric-piano explosions against the horn and string sections' chunky walls of sound, he soon found his touch. When it came, the inevitable "2001" - setting "Also Sprach Zarathustra" to a funky backbeat, while screens showed space-scenes from Kubrick's film - provoked a real coup de théâtre. Chris Bowden, who led the orchestra, squeezed in a final, awe-inspiring version of Charles Stepney's music from Minnie Riperton's "Les Fleurs" before festival organisers Pete and Katrina Lawrence came out to say their traditional thank-yous.
Although The Big Chill's novelty may have worn off, this was the best one I've attended in 10 years of covering them. Other niche festivals have pinched its ideas, but little civilized touches (the stewards come from Oxfam, not Altamont) make all the difference. And, while biggish names (Lambchop, Sparks, Lilly Allen) were there, context is all: I chilled to the Proclaimers, and loved it.
The Big Chill House (020 7682 2020) opens in London's King's Cross on ThursReuse content