First up on the Obelisk Arena on the final day of Latitude 2022 was Dylan a Suffolk-born and London-based singer-songwriter called Dylan. I was really keen to see her play as a delightful lady serving at the donut stand had highly recommended her earlier in the festival. What a great recommendation too, I wish I knew the donut girl’s name so that I could thank her. Dylan is a little like a British Avril Lavigne for these troubled times, but with less of Avril’s punk aspirations. Dylan writes some fabulous pop-infused rock songs. “You’re Not Harry Styles” and “No Romeo” were particular highlights. She and the band looked like they were having an absolute blast. The brief cover of the Guns ‘n’ Roses classic “Paradise City” was rather good indeed. Apparently, Dylan has been coming to Latitude since she was 9 years old. She is a great performer and she owned her first moment on the Main Stage. A quick trundle over to the BBC Sounds Stage for hard rock power duo, JOHN was next. They got together back in 2013 in London. The music comes from a relatively simple setup with guitar, drums, and vocals in the vein (no pun intended) of Royal Blood. They rocked like metal motherfuckers and they are damned good. Now I need to check out their 2021 album, which reached a heady number 78 in the UK charts.
Tribes took a mid-afternoon slot on the Obelisk Arena Stage. They originally formed back in 2010 and after some success, they parted ways a few years later. But now they’re back and will be releasing a new album soon. They sound like something in between a slacker Weezer and a harder-edged Counting Crows. A very tight band with a great canon of songs. Tribes are a band that it is hard not to like, they are infectious and I have the Tribes virus! Next on the Obelisk Arena Main Stage was the angel-voiced Rumer, one of my wife Catwoman’s favourite singers. Although sadly Catwoman (a.k.a Catherine) managed to miss her. Rumer is a British singer who has a voice that is comparable to Karen Carpenter in her prime. Her ability to interpret the songs of others is a thing of beauty. Her covers of Bacharach David songs and some classy 70s covers have provided some magnificent albums. But she does more than just covers, her own “Aretha” is gorgeous. Rumer was apparently once a backing vocalist for Hall and Oates which prompted a stunning live version of “I Can’t Go For That”. Mark Owen followed Rumer onto the Obelisk Arena Stage and there was no way I was prepared to hang around for him, given that he is perhaps the shittest member of Take That. Obviously, he did a couple of Take That songs which I recognised as I walked away at a pace! Presumably to take away the taste of Mark Owen the Manic Street Preachers played the Obelisk Arena Stage early evening with an unsurprisingly hit-packed set. Opening with “Motorcycle Emptiness” and “Everything Must Go” and including a soulful, searing and emotional “If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next”. 21st Century Dublin punks Fontaines D.C. had to pull out of Latitude last year after one of the band caught that bastard Covid. But this year they were back with a seismic set to headline the BBC Sounds Stage. Now on their magnificent third album, ‘Skinty Fia’ Fontaines D.C. are growing into a punky hard rock behemoth. A particular highlight was “Dogrel” but even this was knocked into touch by the closing pair of “Boys In The Better Land” and “I Love You”. I was never going to bother with Snow Patrol, largely because I find them interminably dull, however, that did mean that I missed another Ed Sheeran appearance at Latitude to perform “Bad Habits” with Snow Patrol. It was great to be back at Latitude, my first visit since 2018. Roll on Latitude 2023!
No photos were taken using my cheap Chinese android phone on Sunday, due to low battery and alcohol! The videos were all found on YouTube. If one of them is yours and you would like me to credit you or take it down please let me know. Also a tiny confession, I imbibed a little too much alcohol during a very hot Sunday, so the reviews of Manic Street Preachers and Fontaines D.C. are composites based on speaking to a number of friends who were actually there! Thank you, Johnny, Joe, and Dom!
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I don’t think that there was a better way to open the Obelisk Arean Stage on Saturday than with York’s finest musical sons, Shed Seven. The band, formed in 1990 and named after a railway shed was the perfect choice for an early afternoon Latitude appearance. They are battle-hardened Brit Pop survivors who know their stuff and are still recording with a new album due out soon. The set was a definite 10/10, which is not bad for a band described on Twitter (by one David Callow) as a “shitty little band”. Segueing “Going For Gold” into “Suspicious Minds” worked very well. Note for Mr. Witter, the Elvis tune was released in 1969. The Sheds saved the sublime and magnificent, York City adopted terrace anthem, “Chasing Rainbows” until the end, closing a brilliant show! Rick Witter also gave his maracas as gifts to a couple of people, including a little kid that he had conversed with during the set. Next, it was back to the BBC Sounds Stage for relatively local lass Bessie Turner. She does soulful, folky pop and does it really well. It was a fresh, fun performance for a sunny afternoon. Apparently, her old teacher was in the crowd, I would have been proud had she been one of my pupils!
Now it was time for a quick dash to the Alcove stage for Scottish singer Hamish Hawk. The band is also called Hamish Hawk. This was an electrifying performance, a bit like early Ultravox but using more “organic” instruments, lots more emotion, and oodles of fun. There were some great songs, including one about ecclesiastical architecture. The closing track, “Caterpillar” gave the band the opportunity to completely wig out and they did it with aplomb and attitude. Hamish is an animated and passionate performer. His dancing style is totally original and feels like a Thunderbirds puppet after too many energy drinks. This is a great band, check them out now if you haven’t already. next it was back to the BBC Sounds Stage for Curtis Harding an extraordinarily talented soul singer which seems to display every emotion from ecstasy to deep pain. The band is superb and the set has the feel of a full-on Blues Brothers-style soul revue. Curtis is a great performer who works the crowd into a frenzy. He has a rich, soulful voice that comes across as a 21st Century Curtis Mayfield or Sly Stone. He and his band know how to party too!
The Obelisk Arena was my next destination for the wonderfully named Los Bitchos. They supply Latin-tinged indie instrumentals, many of which could add something as a soundtrack to TV shows like ‘Breaking Bad’. Their sound reminded me at times of Colour Me Wednesday with added South American percussion and obviously no Jennifer Doveton on vocals. Los Bitchos are a very good band, but I felt vocals would have helped carry the tunes better. That said, a particular highlight for me was “Lindsay Goes To Mykonos” which is apparently about Lindsay Lohan. Katy J Pearson was next on the BBC Sounds Stage. I last saw her just over a year ago at the Crescent in York. Her music is rather special and she has a style that is quite difficult to compare with other artists. Although there were times when she sounded a little like Linda Ronstadt. If you like US West Coast country rock from the early 70s, or Americana and alt. country you will almost certainly love Katy J Pearson. The band has a great brass section and Katy’s voice was immaculate. “Beautiful Soul” was a highlight for me. I returned to the Obelisk Arena for Foals, a band I saw quite a few years ago when they sounded like a good Kasabian crossed with Kings Of Leon. Since then they have become perhaps one of the best bands in the UK, particularly in a live setting. The more dance-oriented material is perfect for bringing a festival to life and Foals most certainly applied a fully cranked musical defibrillator to Latitude. Foals didn’t just bring the crowd alive they took us to musical Valhalla. The light show and screen display were clever, powerful, and sublime. I especially loved the kaleidoscopic, Rorschachy style moving and evolving ink blots. The confetti explosion added an eeriness to proceedings as the confetti just hung in the air, maybe because of the heat of the day or the heat of the crowd. This was a stonking set from a magnificent band.
All the photos, apart from the poster, were taken using my cheap Chinese android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube. If one of them is yours and you would like me to credit you or take it down please let me know.
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After a relatively disappointing Day 0 at the Latitude Festival, I was looking forward to a more exciting day on Friday, officially Day 1. First up it was Larkin Poe on the Obelisk Arena stage, made up of sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell. One for fact fans out there is that the sisters are distant relatives of horror maestro and supremely talented author Edgar Allan Poe. They produce some fabulous southern blues rock, which fits given that they are from Atlanta and now reside in Nashville. Rebecca and Megan sure know how to rock and how to wow an audience. I would put them in the same lineage and rock Geneology as Canned Heat, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and maybe Lynrd Skynrd. Check them out, the most recent album, their fifth, ‘Self Made Man’ is rather good. Next, it was off to the Sunrise Arena for American singer-songwriter Penelope Scott. She is not a run-of-the-mill singer-songwriter though, she has deep lyrics and frankly some bloody hilarious lyrics. The dark-humoured and deep “American Healthcare” is a stunningly well-put-together song. The line “I did not become a doctor just to suck the devil’s dick” stayed in my head for ages. Penelope is an obscenely talented troubadour in the vein of Jonathan Richman combined with the wit and wisdom of Peaches. I haven’t seen an artist having so much fun on stage for ages. I am most definitely a Penelope Scott fan now!
The Alcove Stage was the setting for the next act that I encountered. The wonderfully named Sniffany and the Nits. This lot is a punk band from London who are very loud and sometimes hilarious. A bit like Siouxsie and the Banshees with the earnestness and seriousness stripped away. Ultimately though, and maybe it was just some muddy sound mixing, it was difficult to tell one song from another. Ripon’s magnificently talented Billie Marten was flying the flag for Yorkshire on the Obelisk Arena stage next. I last encountered Billie at a small gig in York some five years ago. Since then she has matured into a wonderfully voiced and eloquent songwriter. Her stage presence and audience rapport are spot on. Her album ‘Flora Fauna’ from last year is well worth a listen. I stayed at the Obelisk Arena for Mdou Moctar who blend Tuareg and Saharan sounds, especially the beats, with western rock. Moctar totally rocked the Arena Stage. This was a great performance from a truly great band. Almost 47 years ago the first band I ever saw at a festival was also an African fusion group. It was Osibisa at the Reading Festival in 1975. The Obelisk Arena had a great Friday line up so I remained for Rina Sawayama. She produces rich, dark, pop grooves which sometimes have a real hard rock edge. Rina getting the crowd at the most middle-class festival in the UK (and possibly the world) to chat “Shut the fuck up” was quite special. Some of the more synth-driven tunes are sublime slices of 21st Century R & B and pop hybrids. This woman oozes musical talent.
Next, it was a quick dash to the BBC Sounds Stage for Maximo Park. This band has been around forever. Well technically maybe seventeen years which was when their debut album ‘A Certain Trigger’ was released. Amazingly they just seem to get better and better each time that I see them. The band is incredibly tight and Paul Smith’s social conscience is something to be proud of. But that doesn’t make them over-earnest and po-faced, Maximo Park knows how to entertain a crowd as well. I was keen to encounter Modest Mouse once again after a gap of quite a few years, so I ran over to the Obelisk Arena. In fact, I probably got into Modest Mouse quite late. After reading Johnny Marr’s autobiography I rediscovered them. They are a phenomenal band, especially live. Every song is a classic and frontman Isaac Brock is a man for these times with a world-weary philosophical view of life.
A quick dash back to the BBC Sounds Stage to catch Self Esteem was next on the agenda. In 47 years of festival going this magnificent set by Self Esteem was undoubtedly one of the finest festival sets that I have ever experienced and I have seen some classics, notably Jeff Buckley, Nirvana, and Radiohead to name just a few. This was a truly spectacular and incredible performance from Self Esteem, a.k.a Rebecca, and her heavenly backing singers, booming bass player, and extraordinarily talented drummer. The latter being the token male in the band. Rebecca has a vocal range that many singers would be prepared to die for. It reminded me at times of Dame David at his operatic best. She has the power and presence of Lady Gaga and Madonna and works the audience into a perfect frenzy. I love that Rebecca brought on a fabulous group of LGBTQ people t the end of the set to dance on stage with her and the band. One Self Esteem lyric tells us that we “need to be more brave“, but it is clear that Rebecca is already super brave in attitude and performance. Self Esteem made Latitude 2022 a truly great festival and spectacle. Where did she get all those Boots Advantage cards? It was back to the Obelisk Arena after that for Maggie Rogers. After that mind-blowing set from Self Esteem, anything that followed was likely to be anti-climatic and less exciting for me. But Maggie Rogers was a gorgeous elixir to help ease that come down. She has a great R & B style voice and her band was magical. The audience lapped up every moment. Based on this I believe that her upcoming album will be something very special. It had been a long and emotionally draining day, thanks Self Esteem, so I headed off to my tent after Maggie Rogers. I really wasn’t up for Lewis Capaldi or Phoebe Bridgers. Although a good friend of mine told me that I missed a brilliant set from A Certain Ratio! I guess you can’t win them all, right?
All the photos, apart from the poster, were taken using my cheap Chinese android phone. The videos were all found on YouTube. If one of them is yours and you would like me to credit you or take it down please let me know.
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Having arrived at Henham Park in Suffolk Thursday afternoon for my fourth attendance at the Latitude Festival after a hellish drive from York I was determined to see at least something on what I will call Day 0 of Latitude 2022. I chose to see the Instant Scorechestra on the Lavish Lounge Stage as it was an act that had been recommended to me. Instant Scorechestra is an immersive concept that fuses music, which is very much improvised, played by three key musicians alongside a host of music students and musical volunteers. It is played live in an attempt to provide new soundscapes to classic films which are simultaneously shown on the big screen. I stayed for the ‘Dawn Of Man’ chapter of the Stanley Kubrick masterpiece ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Regular readers will know that my musical taste is eclectic and that I am open to experimentation in music. But for me, this was somewhat jarring and came across like a bad, very, very self-indulgent jazz workout. In the Instant Scorechestra’s favour, I thought it was great that so many people, including kids, were able to take part. The kid with the stylophone was really enjoying it. Bottom line though I think that John Lennon may well have described this as avant-garde. So not my best start to a Latitude Festival, but I was hopeful that things would improve. Did they? Well, you will need to read the next three instalments to find out!
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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.
And it’s goodnight from me – Photo by Andy Golborne
So on to the second day of what is shaping up to be a great Latitude Festival. The second day was kicked off for me on the BBC Music Stage by the 60 strong Suffolk choir; Pop Chorus. This was just a small subset from the whole choir group which has circa 300 members. It was a remarkable set from what I understand is an amateur choir group. Conducted by a talented choir mistress their five-part harmonies gave an almost church-like feel inside the tent. Their repertoire included songs from Alt J and the Killers among many others. Next it was a short hop to the Obelisk Arena for the former Howling Bells singer Juanita Stein. Her sound is rooted in 70s west coast US rock and modern-day Americana injected with a strong sassy twist.
Festival Shadows – Photograph by Andy Golborne featuring, from left to right, the shadows of Andy Golborne, Rachel Vernelle and me 🙂
UK rapper Piers James was a big hit with the Lake Stage crowd. He inspired some very highly spirited moshing, which is something you don’t see too often at Latitude. I would say he is clearly a fan of Dizzee Rascal, Kanye and Outkast although he takes those sounds to another place with some beats that would have graced maybe some Warren G tracks back in the day. The BBC Music Stage swung to some sweet, bright, summery, indie pop from Alvvays. There is an exquisitely dark undertone to their songs. Alvvays are a sumptuously sounding band who were clearly enjoying themselves. I really wasn’t particularly impressed by Parquet Courts on the Obelisk Arena Stage. They have some excellent which at times come across like Jonathan Richman backed by the Doors. A gloomy and surly bunch who on this showing are not as big as their hype suggests.
Irish band Whenyoung stormed the Lake Stage all guns ablaze with a set of banging tunes. I love the attention to their stage image, with the band members wearing coloured jump suits/ overalls which had the band’s logo on them. Festival organisers please give this merry gang a bigger stage next time. There was a volcanic level of rumour and speculation about who the surprise guest would be; names bandied about included Snow Patrol, Ed Sheerhan, U2 and Madonna among many others. However I was bitterly disappointed when it turned out to be that well-known Oasis tribute act Liam Gallagher! I feel that perhaps Liam is very much a Marmite act these days, people either love him or loathe him, for me it is the latter. Having seen Oasis twice, Beady Eye twice and Liam solo at the Leeds Festival last year I believe that he is way past his best and that he is desperate for an Oasis reunion. (Eight out of the thirteen songs he played were Oasis songs).I hope that never happens, but some of the grown men in tears at Liam’s appearance on the BBC Music Stage I am sure will have a very different opinion to mine.
Jessie Ware is a true diva, but in the sense of her performance not in her behaviour. Her tight and talented band gave her a perfect bed for her soulful pop vocal style. This was the perfect soundtrack for a sunny late afternoon at the Latitude Festival. Along with my good friends Rachel and Mac we also enjoyed some hilarious people watching. Thank you to the stoned dancing bloke and to the impractical parents who not only did not master how to put up a child’s play tent, they also managed to break it! Cardiff rockers Boy Azooga seemed to be having a party on the Lake Stage. They were enjoying themselves immensely and rightly so. They put in an awesome performance and engaged perfectly with the audience. I understand that we were their biggest crowd yet. If these boys don’t go on to bigger things then I will have to eat my Festie Cowboy hat!
My festie hat with tiny Trump hands attached as a small protest at the Mango Mussolini’s UK visit. Will I have to eat the hat because of Boy Azooga?
I was lucky enough to grab twenty minutes of Mogwai’s BBC Music Stage set. It was full on prog power psyched up to maximum levels. Possibly one of the best bands the UK has ever spawned. Today the Obelisk Arena Main Stage headliners were the Killers and pardon the pun, but the killed it! Brandon Flowers is the consummate front man. He knows just how good both he and the band are and they totally understand what the crowd want. All their best songs were there; “Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine”, “Human”, “Mr Brightside” and “All These Things That I’ve Done” and many others. Around halfway through their set none other than Liam Gallagher swaggered on to the stage very briefly. He prattled some utter bollocks and walked right off before the Killers played a decent version of the Oasis classic “Acquiesce”. I heard from a very reliable source that Liam was supposed to share vocal duties on the song with Brandon, but he clearly couldn’t be arsed, or at best he couldn’t remember the lyrics! The Killers delivered in spades they are one of the most entertaining bands around. I rounded off the night in the Music and Film Arena for the Trojan Sound System band. They played some wonderful reggae tunes to help celebrate 50 years of the iconic Trojan Record Label.
The first day of the Latitude Festival in 2018 was also the thirty-third anniversary of Live Aid. I believe that in the main music has moved on amazingly since those heady singalong days of parallel shows in London and Philadelphia. Opening the Obelisk Arena Stage and the first day of the festival were the Go! Team. This stunning eight piece indie funk combo are now on their fifth album. The highlights for me were the bombastic “Mayday” and the sublime dance sounds of “Lady Flash”. i reckon this lot were early contenders for funkiest band of the weekend.
The Go! Team
Deap Valley blew the roof off the tent housing the BBC Music Stage. Power pop punk all the way from California. You couldn’t tell from their piledriving performance here but Julie Edwards and Lindsey Troy met seven years ago at a crochet class. Despite that they are more full on ballsy and bluesy than the White Stripes and many others that came before them. The Aussie Danish hybrid of Palace Winter kicked off the action on the Sunrise Arena Stage and were recommended to me by my friend Ann, her sister is a massive fan of this lot. They are indeed a good band, very deep, dark and at times Beatles-esque and when they fully wigged out I even heard traces of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”. The band almost didn’t get here on time. Their flight was delayed by Air Force One landing at Stansted Airport bring the Mango Mussolini to Britain.
Sun Scream hit the Lake Stage with the full power of an out of control ocean-going super tanker. Some awesome indie pop from this bunch of funsters from John Peel’s home town of Bury St. Edmunds. I made my first visit to the Speakeasy for Dr Rosy Carrick’s Passionate Machine. This was essentially a winding, weblike, wonderful story about time travel which featured Rocky Balboa and David Bowie references. I think that I now truly believe in time travel; “oh no love you’re not alone!” I only caught the last song of Marlon Williams’ set sadly. But boy this dude has a voice that could split a planet in two! French band La Femme took control of the Obelisk Arena Stage with their Gallic electro pop. I reckon they were probably the coolest looking band of the day. They count Jean Michel Jarre among their growing army of fans and their second album ‘Mystere’ is released in September.
I have seen Madrid popsters Hinds before. These girls know how to party hard and they have a collection of songs that will make you want to do the same. The audience at the BBC Stage lapped up possibly the biggest indie band ever to emerge from Spain. Due to my sometimes poor logistical skills I ended up at the Obelisk Stage when I should have been elsewhere. But that mistake gave me the opportunity to witness the love child of Rufus Wainwright, Little Richard and Nat King Cole. His name is Benjamin Clementine and he is utterly bloody amazing. He had the late afternoon audience eating out of his hands, especially during the sing along moments. He has been around for a while and won the Mercury Music Prize back in 2015 for his album ‘At Least For Now’. He has also more recently been a collaborator on the new Gorillaz LP.
The next band to grace the BBC Music Stage during my travels across the beautiful landscape of the Latitude Festival site was …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. These Texas rockers were playing their 2002 record ‘Source Tags And Codes’ in full. Their dark, melodic rock remains a very attractive proposition. Surely the band’s name is a top contender for one of the greatest band names ever. One of York’s finest bands, The Howl And The Hum made their first ever Latitude appearance on the Lake Stage. I have seen this band a few times now and they get a little better every time that I see them. They are shaping up to be a truly great British band with influences from Pink Floyd, XTC and Pulp to name just a few. Their new single “Don’t Shoot The Storm” is potentially their best song in their career to date. It sure as hell brought the house down at Latitude. Lower Slaughter a Glasgow and Brighton four piece came along and pulverized the Lake Stage audience into submission with some mountainous punk power and perpetual, relentless energy.
The Howl and the Hum
The Music and Film Arena was home to the marvellous Lump a project of Mike Lindsey and British folk superstar Laura Marling. It was charming, eerie and whimsical rock with a soft prog vibe. A stunning achievement. Rather cheekily though, given Laura’s background in folk, I so wanted to shout “Judas!” I sensibly chose not to though. These days the Charlatans are essentially a heritage band. They did however put on an enthusiastic and danceable show from the part that I saw. My highlight was “North Country Boy” although their new material left me a bit cold. I had a wonderfully different and somewhat new experience watching Tune-Yards on the BBC Music Stage. I have heard great drum ‘n’ bass and I have witnessed talented and intelligent use of looping. This combination produced a lively and heavenly dance set.
I had been looking forward to seeing Solange from the moment the Latitude 2018 headliners were announced and she was not a disappointment. From the preshow playing of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Secret Life Of Plants’ album over the PA I had a feeling it was going to be special. The stage was sparse and white, featuring a huge globe and two pyramid like constructions. The lighting was only ever one colour at a time and no spot lights were used. The choreography and coördination of movement for everyone on stage was perfect and harked back to the golden days of watching 60s Motown groups go through their meticulously syncopated dance routines. Solange herself is an incredibly talented performer; her vocals are pitch perfect and soulful. All the hits were there, the show was book-ended by “Rise” and other highlights were “Crush” and “Losing You”, but I doubt that anything like the hook line from “F.U.B.U.”, “All my niggas in the whole wide world” has ever rang out across Henham Park before! This showcased modern R & B at its finest. For me Solange is every bit as good as her sister!
Public Service Announcement: All pictures are from my phone, apart from the pink sheep shot which I found on line. All videos are sourced from YouTube. If you own the copyright to any of these please let me know and I will be happy to either give you a named credit or take the picture or video down.
So after such a great first Latitude for me last year I was back for another one with what could well be the last gang in town. Yes that tent corral of ours was and is the business. Festivals are often good when you’re on your own but that enjoyment is blown to 3D Imax level when you’re with a bunch of great people as I was in Suffolk!
Owing to some prior family commitments the wonderful Catwoman and I had to leave early on Sunday, but we crammed a lot in during the rest of our stay. The excitement even included someone trying to break into our very modest (ok that might not be true) tent. But that is a story for another day. Proceedings kicked off for us on the evening of Thursday 13th July when we attended a pop up comedy event in the Faraway Forest ( does that sound like something out of Enid Blyton to you? It does to me. But trust me it definitely was not Blyton. The title was Brexit: The Game Show. It wasn’t exactly the kind of light entertainment TV game show we are used to in the UK, but it was a chance to rip apart a number of Tory arseholes such as Boris, Gove, Hunt, IDS and on top of that, the wonderful Mr Dacre of the Daily Heil. I was actually chosen to be a contestant and I would love to tell you that I performed really well, only that would be a lie, I was a bit crap. But for me the show was very funny at first and tailed off towards the end.
For or first full day at the festival on Saturday 14th July I aimed to cram in as much music as I possibly could which was around 18 different acts, but obviously that did not include a full set from all of them. First up I was lucky enough to catch a one song sound check on the Lake Stage from Bessie Turner. Oh boy does this lady have talent and a magnificent voice. After that chance encounter it was off to the BBC Music Stage for Julia Jacklin. She has a collection of smart, catchy and sassy songs that evoke the spirit of Roseanne Cash but with more of a rock feel to them. Her “Cold Caller” has the making of a bluesy laid back classic. After a few songs from Julia it was time to dash over to the Obelisk Arena. Have you ever dabbled in ‘what if’ scenarios? Well what if Siouxse Sioux had fronted early Roxy Music and that band had been influenced by Kate Bush and great dance music? Well in my opinion that would give you the stunning band that is Pumarosa. I was mesmerised by them and stayed for their whole set which for me reached its zenith with the towering “Priestess”. How do you follow that? Not very easily, but the Coral did a great job next. They are old hands at this and they have grown into the perfect band to grace any festival afternoon.
After some early 2000s reminiscing with the Coral I wandered over to the BBC Music Stage for Japanese House. Now this band are purveyors of the finest kind of electro pop. A splendid band indeed. A short hop to the Lake Stage followed this where I was lucky enough to witness a full set from Essex band Superglu. They are a refreshingly talented and somewhat brilliant pop punk outfit. They were clearly having a lot of fun on stage and so were us lucky lot in the audience. Their riff laden, hook heavy songs will stay in your head for ages after hearing them. In fact “Diving Bell” is still with me! Can anyone tell me whether Billy Bragg was at Latitude? If he wasn’t then the bloke taking a pee next to me looked remarkably like him, but for me there is a certain line of etiquette which means I wouldn’t strike up a conversation with a stranger at the urinals, even if said stranger might have actually been William Bloke a.k.a. the Bard of Barking. Back to the BBC Music Stage now for the Radio Dept who give you classy, chilled rock music with a message and this is all underlayed with a powerful dance feel. These Swedes will go far and if you like New Order I reckon that you will love the Radio Dept.
Back to the Lake Stage next for the Dead Pretties which is a name that I love. But they are neither dead and sorry guys but nor are they pretty. However this London band hit you with a powerful assault of punky garage rock. I caught the final few songs from the Mystery Jets at the Obelisk Arena and that was enough for me to confirm that they are still bloody good. I stayed at the Obelisk Arena a.k.a the Main Stage for the stupendous, pulsating and infectious rhythms of Tinariwen who take world music to a truly stellar level. I kept pretty fit by dashing from stage to stage and next I found myself back at the BBC Music Stage for Beth Orton who drew the biggest crowd of the day to that stage at that point in proceedings. Beth’s die-hard fans were clearly pleased with her performance but for me it lacked a degree of personality. My first visit to the BBC Introducing Stage gave me a chance to see Be Good from Oxford. They hit us with some light, bright and funky tunes which the audience lapped up. I think I detected a bit of Foster The People in their party vibe too. I graced the Lake Stage with another visit next for Shame and I must say that there is no Shame with this band whose songs are heavy, punky rock from London with some very clever lyrics. They also claim to have topped the charts in Bosnia. Not many artists can truly carry off the ‘gimme your hands’ crucifixion pose but Shame’s lead singer pulls it off in style. I hope that there is a slot for them at Reading/ Leeds, they would totally smash it!
I decided to calm things down next by meeting my beautiful wife Catherine (a.k.a Catwoman) at the Speakeasy stage which is effectively a combined literature and poetry stage. Who was the bozo who decided to replace the Poetry Stage with a Carlsberg bar that looked to me like the Ikea staff canteen? But mini rant over I was at the Speakeasy to see Lol Tolhurst off of the Cure interviewed by Pete Paphides. Lol has recently published his memoirs entitled Cured. Lol is an excellent raconteur and frankly he might have done just as well without Pete Paphides who I felt had a bit of an off day. Obviously I bought the book and queued to get it signed, but disappointingly when I got home I spotted that Lol had dedicated it to Phil! Lol that is not my name, so I guess that I might have to doctor it a little. Incidentally John Robb did exactly the same a few years ago at the Harrogate Festival! The next attraction on the Lake Stage were the band that it is impossible to pigeonhole. the mighty, eclectic Cabbage. When I saw them at the Leeds Festival last year they were beautifully shambolic. They have come such a long way since then and I reckon they will headline a major festival within the next three years, what do you think? They might not necessarily look punk, but they ooze punk attitude and swagger. Before heading back to our aforementioned very modest tent I managed to catch the first few songs from Obelisk Arena headliners the 1975. They truly are a brilliant band who are totally sure of themselves and very deserving of a headline slot. Did I overdo it with all that dashing from stage to stage? Well yes I probably did!
When I woke up on Saturday morning I kind of knew that maybe I had overdone things the previous day and later that morning I was close to passing out, but I soldiered on as long as I could. The act of the day for me was at the Sunrise Stage at at midday on Saturday and it was one that I had bean looking forward to for a long while. It was the wonderful chap that is Beans On Toast. He is a mate of Frank Turner’s and is far more political than Frank. But I loved his set, just Beans and his acoustic, great songs, smart lyrics and an incredible rapport with the audience. You want love songs? You want protest songs? Beans On Toast has them both in abundance. He is a wonderful storyteller and raconteur. next I was off to the BBC Music stage for some fine Scandinavian songs which have the power to move mind, body and soul. The artist is Skott a Scandinavian singer songwriter who grew up in a forest commune. I stayed in the BBC tent for Karen Elson, multi talented supermodel and singer songwriter. Her folkily styled songs supported by a fabulous sprinkling of harp are like nectar for the ears. I was keen to dash over to the Obelisk Stage to catch at least some of the charming and talented Lucy Rose’s set. It feels like she has been with us forever and I do mean that in a good way. She has a mind for great melodies and lyrics and she has the voice of an angel. What more could you want?
After that I wandered across the site for my first and only visit of the day to the Speakeasy for Global Pillage hosted by Deborah Frances-White and guests. It is a new comedy panel show which has been available as a podcast for a while. It takes a look at our strange human customs and idioms from across the globe. Personally I found it a bit too try hard and nowhere near as funny as I had hoped. I managed to catch some of the Idles set on the Lake Stage. If you like nerve shredding punk that has the power to make your ears bleed then you will love them. I certainly did. After the Idles I needed a bit of a come down and on the same stage I found that with the spectacularly chilled Saint Sister. There may not be a finer way to wind down and chill right now than this band. Dreamy harmonies and hooks with a great nod to the 1960s. I also caught some of the Lemon Twigs set in the BBC Music tent. It is pretty damned hard to believe that these two are still teenagers. Incredibly talented and clearly fans of harmonic rock and pop. That was the last act I saw at Latitude 2017 as unfortunately prior commitments meant that we had to head home on Sunday morning. But the acoustics at the campsite were so good that I was able to hear most of Leon Bridges amazing set and that made me wish that I had stayed in the arena. I also heard the whole Mumford and Sons set and I remain not a big fan of them, I find them somewhat bland. Although the stuff that they have done with Baaba Maal is bloody good. Anyway I would love to hear of your hits and misses from Latitude. I can certainly promise that I will be back here next year too!
The final day at Latitude, really? Where on earth did the time go? Wherever it went I had a great time, even on day three. Catwoman went to have a massage today, yes a massage, that is how diverse this festival is. Meanwhile I visited the comedy tent to see Spencer Jones. He is like an adult Punch and Judy show. Whilst he has some very clever visual comedy I personally think that his act was incredibly over long at thirty minutes, but the crowd seemed to love him. I met up with Catwoman and some of the gang for a wander across to the Cabaret tent for one of the highlights of the weekend. Tina C – Herstory; redneck, white trash (it ain’t a colour thing it’s a state of mind), country and western hoe down comedy. Who knew a drag act could be this good? Give me a HELL YEAH!
I dropped by the Lake Stage and caught most of a stunning set from Martha Ffion. It was like Orange Juice had been blended with Altered Images and dusted with some 21st century sparkle. Bloody brilliant! I may have only been there for a short part of Laura Mvula’s Obelisk Arena set, but oh boy this lady oozes class. Jamie Woon was next at the recommendation of Claire (thank you!). He sings very modern R & B that is clearly rooted in old skool soul music. At times he reminded me of the Groove Corporation. Does anyone else remember them? I often go and see a band whose name I like, even if I have never heard of them before. That is why I found myself at the Sunrise Arena again. This time for Little Green Cars. They are a great American band who play highly charged and often emotional rock songs with pitch perfect harmonies. A little like Vampire Weekend but without the African style guitar sound. The BBC 6 Music stage hosted someone who I haven’t seen live for quite a few years, Roots Manuva. He is living proof that British Rap works, especially with such a tight band behind him.
Then it was off to pay my final visit to the Obelisk Arena a.k.a. the main stage. The Lumineers were on. I thought that they were pretty good although perhaps a little too ‘safe’ for me. I also feel that the Lumineers could be one of those bands that is far better live than on record. They were followed by M83 (is it eight three or eighty-three?). I saw them some years ago at the Reading Festival and they are clearly a very good band. But personally I was surprised that they were so high up the bill. M83 are a very original band who may be influenced by the likes of Coldplay. In the meantime I believe that Imagine Dragons and Bastille among others may just owe a little debt to them. The evening was wrapped up, for me at least, by a stonking set from soon to be scouse superstars Clean Cut Kid at the Lake Stage. Can we see them on a bigger stage next year please? So then it was back to our canvas mansion for cheese, wine and a major mosquito attack, okay maybe it was horseflies but they certainly pack a nasty bite (or sting or whatever). In summary I actually enjoyed camping, I loved the great company and I love this splendid festival even if I am working class and therefore technically shouldn’t fit in. Catwoman and I will be back next year provided that the rest of our gang believe that we passed the audition and the initiation!
I think I enjoy camping, and camping it up as well, obviously! The lack of a shower over this whole weekend was not something I looked forward to, but one lives with it and let’s face it, it is very much a first world problem. After another delightful breakfast with the gang we set off to the main site where I started the day with a delicious Dirty Chai. If you haven’t read my previous posts I should point out that this is nothing perverted, it is simply a Chai Latte with on or two shots of Espresso added to it. Many of us kicked the day off in the Literature tent for an overview of ‘The Life Project’ by Helen Pearson. It is about a study that began in 1946 that included all the babies born in a particular week in March and staying in touch with them to understand their development throughout the years. The exercise was repeated every twelve years with two notable exceptions; 1982 and 2016. The reasons for those gaps in the study seem largely to be the Thatcher government and current austerity measures respectively. Nonetheless this remains the biggest study of its kind ever.
Oh wait? Did I not tell you that Latitude has pink sheep? (Photo courtesy of my delightful, delovely wife Catwoman a.k.a Catherine)
After that I thought I needed a musical interlude so I wandered off to the Sunshine Arena for Pumarosa. They delivered a very festival friendly summer sound. A kind of dreamy hypno-trance. Is that a new combo genre? I really don’t know. But if you want a reference point I found them musically reminiscent of the Beloved. Pumarosa’s lead vocalist is a supremely talented singer and a musical whirling dervish to boot. I look forward to seeing this band again some time. Being British the next thing I did was very stereotypical. I saw a queue near the Alcove stage and joined it thinking I was lining up to go into the Alcove. However I was wrong I was one of the lucky folk to visit the DIY Den for a brilliant acoustic set from the singer and mainstay of Frightened Rabbit. A really intimate set, I loved it and I think I might have become a Frightened Rabbit fan as a result.
I popped into the Comedy tent next where I caught a proper laugh out loud Aussie comedienne, Felicity Ward. But it was time for more music after that so I dashed across to the BBC 6 Music stage where I was hoping to see Ratboy, however the programme timings were wrong so I missed him. I did see the DMAs though who were bloody good. They offer a sunny indie pop sound with some great earworms in their sing along choruses. Back to the Sunrise Arena which I do believe is my favourite stage. Here I saw The Very Best. Now if you call your band The Very Best you either have to be very confident in your abilities or stupidly arrogant. This lot are most definitely not stupidly arrogant. Are they as good as their name suggests? Definitely and possibly even a bit better. They are made up of Swedish, British and Malawian musicians and as a result they take the best of Swedish Pop, the best of African music and they mix it up with an inherent ability to party. They handled a brief loss of sound immensely well with a quick switch to acoustic delivery. I loved their song “We Okay” which in my opinion deserves to become a festival anthem.
I made my first visit to the BBC Introducing stage after that to catch an excellent set from Vincent Burke a highly recommend friend of Barbara (one of our festival gang). He even got a decent round of applause for his sound check. I loved his songs and he has a great voice. He seemed a little nervous but clearly won the crowd over. I doubt that anyone walked away from his set disappointed, I certainly didn’t. His songs are terrific. “He Paid To Have Himself Murdered”is a truly excellent and quirky story song. He also has a truly moving protest song in “Remembrance Day”. It feels like Vincent comes from a long line of great British singer songwriters from Cat Stevens, through Clifford T Ward, Billy Bragg and many more. Next it was a must see for me in the Film and Music tent. This is one that I had really been looking forward to. Cassette Boy vs. DJ Rubbish, a comedy disco that was clever, topical, political, entertaining and truly bloody hilarious. I danced solidly for more than an hour. Can Latitude ever top this? I doubt it. All together now “all the dinner ladies, all the dinner ladies”.
Rob Auton’s Sleep Show was a highly rated event in the Poetry tent. It certainly succeeded in sending me to sleep. Th first few minutes were okay, but after that it was like watching paint dry. Thankfully there was still the Cabaret stage to come. This time for a fabulous set from Johnny Woo – The Glory. This was alternative, comedy entertainment at its best, especially the death of Princess Diana sketch. So the further demise of Diana it was time for the sun to set on another excellent day at Latitude and back to our tent corral for cheese and wine. Yes this is a truly brilliant festival, albeit a tad middle class!