The third day of this spiffingly good Latitude Festival arrived way too soon. Black Honey opened the curtains on the Obelisk Arena Stage on Sunday lunchtime. This colourful and punky tribe pack a serious punch that could easily knock out some more established bands. With their début album due out some time soon they may well get the opportunity to be crowned champions. All too briefly the Lake Stage was a home from home for Caswell a Suffolk based singer songwriter who is a BRIT School alumni. She has a great band behind her and Caswell herself has a soaring vocal style that appears almost effortless. She croons every bit as well as Adele, although she takes a much more left field approach than West Norwood’s finest diva and another BRIT School alumni. The style is sophisticated and very classy R & B pop. This was apparently the largest crowd Caswell had ever played for and they totally nailed it.
There was a fabulous vibe at the Lake Stage on Sunday, starting with Dylan Cartlidge. I reviewed his song “Scratch, Sniff” earlier this year for Northern Radar. (Click here to read it). What I said about that song then was ” If Beck was British this would be him. Weird, wonderful and deserves to be heard. Some vocal parts evoke Jeff Buckley and Hawksley Workman. A truly epic tune.” Now having seen Mr Cartlidge in the flesh it is clear that he is one very talented dude. As well as the aforementioned artists I felt a bit of Shuggie Otis in his style and songs. He has an immaculate talent for freestyling as well, not many other performers can freestyle as well as that, it was magnificent. I also had a brief chat with him later and that just hammered home what a great bloke he is. This was the first time that he had ever been to a festival. Given that he is only 22 I think he will be attending many more festivals as an artist rather than a punter.
I stayed at the Lake Stage for the quirky and magical Girlhood. Two great female singers and a Vince Clarke/ Chris Lowe keyboard, beats, computer and synth boffin type dude. They have some absolutely impeccable songs which were perfectly delivered and they seemed to be having so much fun. I felt a faint echo of the Fugees about them. If you set out to dislike Girlhood I think it would be truly impossible. I took a more relaxing item in after my time at the Lake Stage, one of my favourite authors, Matt Haig was in conversation with Lisa Blower mostly about his new book ‘Notes On A Nervous Planet’. this was in the Speakeasy, he is a very warm, engaging and intelligent man. He clearly values integrity and has a wicked sense of humour. That book will be purchased by me very soon. The mighty Rag ‘N’ Bone Man was next up on the Obelisk Arena Stage. I had the opportunity to review his first album about six weeks before it was released last year and I played it to death. his songs and his outstanding voice are to die for. This is a blueprint for all modern soul singers. On top of that Rag ‘N’ Bone Man a.k.a. Rory Graham can rap in a very smart way and his ciphers are sharp. He delved into songs from his 2014 EP ‘Wolves’ along with the expected classic songs in the making from last years début album ‘Human’. Inevitably “Human” was probably the highlight for most of the swaying, adoring crowd and that is an amazing song. But already this guy has an exceptional collection of songs. “Hell Yeah” is explosive and hard-hitting and given the right production Rag ‘N’ Bone Man should be given the opportunity to record a Bond theme. I want to see him headline soon.
I returned to the Speakeasy after that spellbinding set from rag ‘N’ Bone Man. My wonderful wife Catherine a.k.a. Catwoman and I chanced upon Dickie Beau: A Pinch Of Notoriety Will Do. Dickie is a very open, very effeminate homosexual man. He is an Artist Research Fellow at the Queen Mary University of London and the Birkbeck Centre for Contemporary Theatre. His talk at Latitude focused on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Quentin Crisp’s landmark memoir ‘The Naked Civil Servant’ and explained in parallel with that the history of homosexuality, particularly in the UK. It was enlightening and fascinating even for an old straight bloke like me. Dickie will be coming to the big screen soon playing Kenny Everett in the upcoming Queen biopic. This was followed by a Salon London presentation ‘The Tao Of Jazz’ which featured Juliet Russell on vocals, jazz guitarist John Wheatcroft and philosopher Dr Julian Baggini. essentially it revolved around the performance of a number of jazz standards and how philosophy concepts lend themselves to jazz creation, performance and its iconic artists and performers. Our Latitude 2018 was rounded off by Rob Kemp’s ‘The Elvis Dead’. This show has won many awards since its first outing at the Edinburgh Fringe. What is it about? Well in simple terms it is a retelling of the 1987 horror movie ‘The Evil Dead II’ through the songs of Elvis Presley. It was beyond any doubt one of the cleverest and funniest things that I have ever seen. You have to see this if you get the chance. Sadly I missed one of the last performances of the weekend; Boss Caine one of York’s most talented artists at the Alcove Stage. An overdose of heat and alcohol meant that I fell asleep at my tent and didn’t wake up in time 🙂 But in spite of that it was another superb Latitude Festival and I am looking forward to next years already.