Pet Shop Boys close Bestival 2017 – The show that nearly didn’t go on!

It’s day three of Bestival and though the rain hasn’t hit has hard today, the wind has managed to savage the site to the point of an arena-wide closure. However in true rockstar form the stage screens have been lowered, strapped in and everything is back up and running in under an hour, and we’re on track for the grand finale headliner: Pet Shop Boys.

The only problem is, since the arena was closed for that time, a lot of people seem to have taken it as red that the festival has been stopped entirely. As more than a few Facebook posts to the Bestival page suggest – some security staff seem to have actually been telling punters this was the case, and it seems that an awful lot of people have packed up and gone home. The announcement that the arena would re-open was communicated through Bestival social media and the app, but I can’t help but feel that wasn’t really going to work – how many people still have their phones charged, or indeed any signal (the site is notoriously pants for those on EE) by Sunday evening of a four day festival? At any rate it’s more than clear that the crowd that has made it’s way back in through the mud, is considerably thinner on the ground than the previous two nights.

Nevertheless, the night draws in and the stage is set with two giant white discs side by side, which slowly rotate (think, secret bookcase doorway in a spy movie) to reveal Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe in their tinfoil helmets, to ‘Inner Sanctum’ from last years’ release ‘Super’. No really, there’s a very aliens-might-steal-my-thoughts look about them. Given the earlier high winds, we might have expected the sound to suffer a little bit tonight but it’s crystal clear and exactly as electro-dance-party as we’d hoped. Classic hit ‘Opportunities’ comes complete with visuals of money and a heck-tonne of lasers. In the midst of the crowd a very happy man atop his friends shoulders, is making it rain with a giant bag of neon glowsticks, if anyone knows him – please thank Glowstick-King for his kindness!

“A little mid eighties electro for you Bestival!” yells Tennant, whilst the backdrop displays a bright fuchsia ring reminiscent of the kind Samara climbs out of before she kills you for watching that videotape. Giant disco ball visuals replace that for ‘New York City Boy’ and Tennant does a quick change into a sparkly holographic silver jacket for ‘Inside A Dream’, the network of lasers across the sky is incredible, turning through purples and oranges in a panel that looks like an electric sunset. ‘West End Girls’ has the arena singing along and ‘Home and Dry’ brings a softer side to the rave.

With a giant moon visual rising at the back of the stage, and the actual moon hanging in the night sky off to the side, Pet Shop Boys really push the colour theme with rainbow lighting blanketed on everything – including Lulworth Castle behind us. Yelling “Bestival, thank you! You’re fabulous!” the guys are off into ‘It’s a Sin’ and “Heres’s an old song…” hit ‘Go West’ (which is actually one of my least liked from PSB, but hey, if they didn’t play it… anarchy) as giant rainbow spheres are dropped from somewhere unknown in the ceiling of the stage.

Finishing up with ‘Domino Dancing’ and their cover of Elvis song ‘Always On My Mind’ before we turn around for the firework show. Pet Shop Boys have delivered a cracking finale to what could have been a sad early ending for this festival, it was the much needed final boost of energy and positivity we needed.

It’s definitely weird not watching the fireworks, and the neon night parade from the side at Robin Hill, but I have to say – it’s pretty impressive to see Lulworth Castle bathed in rainbows and light. As always, we as a group are standing in a cuddle (because we’re cute… but also it’s absolutely Baltic out here) saying goodbye to another great, but eventful year at Bestival.

All photographs © A. McHardy – Do not use without permission

The Rainbow Venues’ Festival: Chapter XII Review

When casting my eyes over the Chapter XII line-up, it was a sheer reflection of the inconceivable talent that The Rainbow Venues showcase year after year. The distinct sounds of Dubfire, Jamie Jones, Richie Hawtin and Loco Dice – to name but a few – were to be heard at one of the most dedicated hubs for the electronic scene in the heart of Digbeth, Birmingham, and this line-up was one of the most incredible to date. With a host of stages – from the Warehouse, to the Arena and up to the Rooftop Terrace, this was definitely about to be a day to remember. And my God, it was.

Kicking of the festival season in style, you could definitely tell it wasn’t summer quite yet; a waterfall or rain thwarted a huge crowd of ravers towards their chosen tent, with us heading straight to see a true pioneer of techno, Richie Hawtin, filling the Car Park stage at 4pm. Despite the early time slot, his thumping, minimal set drew in a huge crowd, subtly progressing from one track to the next and cementing his solid reputation as nothing short of a techno king. “Cold weather but amazing warmth and craziness going on inside @rainbowvenues!” he Tweeted post-show – and we couldn’t agree more. It was magnetic, commanding and deep, and set the tone for the day ahead.

The Arena played host to a mighty selection of acts throughout the day; Israeli DJ Guy Gerber played an intense and memorable set to a captivated crowd, the tent literally overflowing with revellers even with Hawtin smashing the Car Park just seconds away. The crowd was well and truly warmed up in time for a less intense, but equally as captivating Sasha playing B2B with Nic Fancuilli, their beats aligned with blasts of cold smoke to a bellowing crowd. The beauty of Chapter XII is that there really is something for everyone; while there was deep house and techno pounding through the majority of stages, the Roof Terrace played host to an array of garage and grime artists, the likes of Redlight, Mak & Pasteman, Mele and Preditah causing one of the best crowd atmospheres seen at the entire event. It was a great escape, and one certainly lapped up and loved by every individual present.

Joseph Capriati has made a name for himself as a prominent figurehead on the techno spectrum. Taking to the Car Park stage, his set –accompanied by a spectacular laser display, flame blasts and smoke screens – was one of the climatic sets of the day, a highlight including an impressive build-up of Marco Faraone’s  Boost; it was one of those moments where you look over at your mate, both raise your hands together in unison, and realise why you absolutely love coming to a festival like this – it was nothing short of being absolutely euphoric. Capriati was a lucky coincidence for us; after heading to see Art Department at the Warehouse but it being too busy for us to enter straight away, we didn’t know if this set would compare. But it brought it back and more – Capriati put on an epic showcase, and one I would highly recommend to anyone looking for some blazing, melodic and rip-roaring techno.


Something that was truly an exciting addition to the line-up at Chapter XII was the hybrid audiovisual production by dubfire:live, orchestrating an hour set fusion of music, science and technology in an innovative live show format. It was definitely a treat for the senses – so much to see, so much to hear, just a complete visual and melodic ecstasy. Wanting to see everything we possibly could, we had to leave the spectacle to witness the sights of Jamie Jones; a DJ that should be on everyone’s list to see at least once. His sets just connect with an audience like no other, encouraging dancing, moving, fest-pumping and everything inbetween. Slamming in songs such as Nathan Barato ft Sasha Brown – Talk On, and Whiplash – Ghetto Tears, the crowd was captivated, a wave of fist pumps pulsating through the ocean of ravers like a Mexican wave at a cup final at Wembley.

Now, as someone who has seen Loco Dice multiple times, I know now that each set is destined to be absolutely epic, and a perfect way to end our Chapter XII Journey. The Desolate co-boss was the headlining act for the Arena stage, closing down the party in the most intense and impeccable way imaginable. With an abundance of deep, dark sounds roaring through the crowd, the set diverted between tech house and pure, unadulterated techno, complemented by a powerful spectrum of green laser lights which set the crowd alight. It was epic, perfect, intense and simply fantastic – Dice is an unparalleled genius, and was an epic headliner to end an epic event.

Cementing their platform as a house and techno playground, The Rainbow Venues’ Chapter XII was everything we could have expected. With an Elrow presents: Hot Creations after party for those who wanted to carry on deep into the night (with a line-up just as brilliant as the event itself) Chapter XII is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Even though the rain hammered down, the fists still pumped in the air and the atmosphere remained electric – and we certainly won’t be forgetting it anytime soon. Chapter XIII, anyone? 

Chapter XII Festival: Your guide to headliners, tickets and travel

Saturday, March 26 marks the Midlands’ leading inner-city festival in Birmingham, Chapter XII, taking place at The Rainbow Venues.

The Birmingham based festival will take over a number of unique and industrial areas and will boast more stages than last year’s event, with the launch of new spaces – The Big Top, The Rooftop, The Blackbox and The Arches.

Against the backdrop of Digbeth’s railway arches, Chapter XII will promote innovative stage production, utilising contemporary technology to allow some of the biggest names in house and techno music to perform with spectacular results.

dubfire:live brings a hybrid audiovisual production set-up that has only ever been done in the UK once before. The techno house artist unifies science, technology and music to create an innovative live show with 2D and 3D animation, live audio and lighting.

In The Big Top, Desolat boss Loco Dice, Drumcode’s Italian techno titan Joseph Capriati, live duo Pan Pot, Paradise man Jamie Jones, plus local hero Adam Shelton back to back with Lewis Oxley.

The Arena finds Richie Hawtin playing top of the bill, alongside dubfire:live. Sasha and Nic Fanciulli also set to play back to back. Canadian tech house titan Art Departmenand classic house and techno man Argy, of Bedrock and BPtich Control, also plays.

The Warehouse sees the return of Maya Jane Coles, Rumors boss Guy Gerber, George Fitzgerald, and techno tastemakers Dense & Pika.

Lobster Boy also takeover with Redlight, Preditah, Mella Dee, NYTA, Mele and Mak & Pasteman. Birmingham's favourite house and techno hotspot The Blackbox boasts sets from Trust chief Nick Curly, Drumcode techno star Alan Fitzpatrick and Fuse foudner Enzo Siragusa.

There will also be ‘Chapter 12 by Night’ as the official after party, hosted by the world famous Elrow (Barcelona) which will see the Hot Creations crew return to Birmingham, featuring key acts like Patrick Topping, Infinity Ink LIVE, wAFF and Russ Yallop

WHEN: Saturday, March 26

WHERE: Birmingham, UK

HOW MUCH: from £30

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