So after my first night sleeping under canvas in forty years how did I feel? Pretty bloody good actually, but to be fair Catwoman and I do have a six man tent for just the two of us. On to day one of the Latitude Festival. First activity was a group breakfast with the whole crew and at the risk of sounding like a Trumpton role call that is; Catwoman, Andy, Rachel, Rachel, Sarah, Jo, Claire, Barbara, Allie and Mac. We all then walked to the main festival site for a group coffee and to my delight I found somewhere that could supply a really decent Dirty Chai (for the uninitiated that is a Chai Latte with a shot or two of Espresso). Until now I hadn’t perhaps realised the massive breadth of this festival. Everything from music to dance to theatre to cabaret to comedy to poetry to literature and more!
My first visit was to the Literature tent for a preview of an upcoming V & A exhibition; ‘You Say You Want A Revolution: Records and Rebels 1966-1970’. I am so looking forward to this exhibition which starts in September and runs through to February next year. Next came our first visit to the Cabaret tent for an act recommended by one of our gang, Rachel Vernelle. It was an all female comedy sketch act featuring three clearly very talented women. They are called Massive Dad (actually that would be a good name for a band wouldn’t it?) and I particularly enjoyed the sketch that very cleverly poked fun at the TV advertising industry. A few of us then rushed across to the comedy tent to see the highly rated Nick Helm. Quite who rates him this highly seems debatable to me. Personally I thought he was bloody awful. Listen Nick if you are going to litter your act with c-bombs and f-bombs then make it a little more smart and clever than you did. Even with our pathetic puerile schoolboy humour I believe that myself and my school friends back in the 70s were way more funny than you seem to be in 2016.
Next was my first visit to what was to become one of my favourite stages of the festival, the Sunrise Arena. I dragged Catwoman along with me to see the rather wonderfully named band Let’s Eat Grandma. I had never heard them before but in my opinion their name called out loudly that I should see them. I wasn’t disappointed either they have some great pop tunes wonderfully woven with electronica and orchestral sounds. An excellent festival band. One act that I had been particularly looking forward to was Canadian comedienne Katherine Ryan. I first got into her quite recently when she wrote a regular column for the NME. She did not disappoint. Her stories covered dead pets, Boris, Cheryl Cole a.k.a the nation’s sweetheart, circumcision, kids and the fourth best ass-hole. She was bloody brilliant with plenty of laugh out loud moments. Nick Helm watch and learn!
Next I was put into a proper mellow mood in the Alcove by the marvellous HANA. The hit you with gorgeous, chilled and soulful electronic music. Hana is effectively Montana native Hana Pestle. She is a gifted singer (and I mean oh boy can this girl sing!), songwriter and producer. She could already count Lorde as a fan and now she can count me as a fan too. I stayed in the Alcove to catch most of a set from another very talented songstress, Frances. I last saw her during Live In Leeds last year. She was good then and she is even better now. Her album which is due soon will, I am sure, be truly amazing. Halfway through day one before my first visit to the main stage a.k.a. the Obelisk Arena. I had wanted to see Aussie Courtney Barnett for some time having listened to her regularly on-line and having purchased a Record Store day vinyl release by her earlier this year. She fronts a really powerful trio who put immense muscle into the songs that support her lyrics which seem largely drawn from her life experiences. Courtney rocks big time!
Then I found myself in the Film and Music tent where I caught a few Irish short film comedies. One of them featuring the aforementioned Katherine Ryan. Some excellent stuff. I had gone to this tent to see Adam Buxton‘s BUG special on David Bowie. Being a big Bowie fan myself I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity. In fact I missed Father John Misty to see it. Adam provided a heartfelt and at times hilarious memorial to the sadly missed Dame. Adam, like me and millions of others, is clearly a big Bowie fan. The silent video of the awful Bowie Jagger Live Aid collaboration was priceless. After this I found myself back in the Literature tent with Catwoman for a talk, interview and book signing by Brix Smith off of the Fall and Adult Net among others. She has recently had her memoir published. What a fantastically honest, self-deprecating and amusing woman she is. Obviously I bought the book, had it signed by Brix and posed for the obligatory photo with her! After Brix it was the turn of comedienne Shappi Korshandi who was launching her first novel ‘Nina Is Not OK’. Shappi is a very amusing, very intelligent and very smart woman. I like her a lot. I didn’t buy the book this time, but Barbara Jennings did. After this it was back to our corralled tents for cheese and wine. That’s not too middle class is it? Anyway what surprised me most about day one was how little music I took in. There was simply so many other things to do.