Latitude Festival celebrated it’s tenth anniversary last weekend by pulling out all the stops across the variety of music, literature, poetry, dance and comedy acts on offer across Henham Park, bringing back classic acts as well as the best of the new.
Even as we arrived on Thursday before the festival officially began, there was still much to see and do. Taking a path through the woods we found magical art installations and hidden cocktail bars.
Friday was kicked off with the danceable pop husband and wife team who are Summer Camp on the main Obelisk Stage. Melodic pop blended with guitar distortions resulting in a sweet and spicy sound floating across the summer breeze. Having cooled down afterwards with a dip in the lake, it was time to head over to the BBC 6Music tent which was buzzing excitedly for Public Service Broadcasting. For those who are not familiar with their material, Public Service Broadcasting pays homage to the dreams of our ancestors by layering disco-electro tunes over soundbites of films, news clippings and the public service broadcasts from 1930s to the height of the space-race in the 1960s. I couldn’t wait to geek out and dance! Wheeling out two vintage TV screens on stage, black and white footage of their music videos played out as we raved along. I was almost too busy dancing to notice the satellite doubling up as a disco-ball rising up on the stage. A charming retro robotic voice carried out the duties of seaming the songs together before the highlight of the set, ‘Gagarin’. For the hit single, they were joined on stage not only by a charismatic brass trio, but also a dancing astronaut to get the party going. By the end of it all the crowd were roaring and chanting “P.S.B, P.S.B!”
Friday evening was concluded by the electro-indie sounds of Alt-J headlining the Obelisk stage. For me, Alt-J have always been a band that I have played in the background as I go about my day, I’ve never sat down and focused on the material. However, they pleased their largely dedicated crowd and ended with the iconic ‘Breezeblocks’.
On the Saturday we headed back over to BBC 6Music tent first thing for Tom Robinson Band. I wasn’t aware of the band’s original material, but the tent was filled with fans who there the first time round and came along not only for the classics, but also to hear the new material which will be on the album out in October. The band were genuinely pleased and humbled that the tent was filling with a sizeable crowd and as they belted out their rock tunes with a strong splattering of punk-ethos, it felt as though I was down the pub enjoying a live jam rather than a scheduled performance. This was down to rapport that the band built with the audience as well as sharing with us funny anecdotes. The Charlatans took the stage later on in the day bringing the Mancunian Indie scene to the fields of Southwold, however much of the set floated above my head as I felt that you needed to be at least familiar with their material to enjoy it properly.
I had only seen shaky, live footage of Prides from Reading festival a few years back and so I was skeptical as they took to the Lake Stage as the sun began to set. I was so pleased to be proved wrong as their set proved to be phenomenal. Not only did they bring the party with their pop-indie anthems, but they brimmed with likeable charisma.
Not many people can say that they were woken up on a Sunday morning by Noel Gallagher (alas he was sound-checking, not standing next to me telling me to wake up) but he was the name on everyone’s lips across the campsite as he divided opinion, yet excitement was still crackling like electricity. First of all though it was time to celebrate Latitude’s tenth birthday with Gareth Malone Presents: Voices and Latitude Choir. The Latitude choir was exactly what it says on the tin as festival goers were given the opportunity to audition to join Gareth Malone’s choir on the Obelisk Stage for renditions of feel-good pop classics. A few hours later the day then took a rather crazy turn.
“WE ARE THE FUCKING BOOMTOWN RATS AND YOU ARE RAT-ITUDE!” belled out Bob Geldof having swaggered on stage in a faux snake skin suit. I can’t comment on what Bob Geldof may or may not have taken or drank before he took the stage, but he certainly brought us the decadent rock n’ roll of old with his boundless energy, slumping over the shoulder of his guitarist, bouncing back and forth and dusting off his snake-hips. He would be belting out his hits such as ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ and then abruptly pause to fix the crowd with a steely stare, proving to us all that he will always be as mad as a box of frogs.
The arena soon began filling with day ticket holders who were there solely to grab a spot for Noel Gallagher while the dream-pop LA sound of Warpaint perfectly complemented the hazy summer afternoon air. I was there to grab my spot for Manic Street Preachers. It was strange for me to see the Manics in a festival environment as I’m usually used to being flung around an enclosed arena like a leopard print rag-doll. This time I had plenty of room to rock out to tracks I had not yet heard live such as ‘Walk Me To The Bridge’ and ‘Jackie Collins Existential Question Time’ before ending their relatively short set with ‘Design For Life’.
When Noel Gallagher strode on to the stage, I realised that he truly is this generation’s rock star with both the personality and tunes to back up this claim. Opening up with ‘Everybody’s On The Run’, he gently ribbed the middle class, hippy reputation with famous wit: “This one’s called ‘Talk Tonight’ or if you’re the Guardian back there it’s ‘We need to fucking talk now, maaan!” Controversially enough, the majority of Oasis which were played were Liam’s numbers such as ‘Whatever’ and ‘Champagne Supernova’ (or ‘Champagne Super-Socialist’ for the Guardian) which other journalists may speculate about, but that’s not going to happen here. I had expected him to end the set with the single ‘Ballad of the Mighty I’, however we were treated instead to ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ which was a spectacular finale to Latitude 2015.
As I arrived home burnt, bruised and bug-bitten, I couldn’t have asked for a better festival experience. I had only just learnt at the time of writing this that Ed Sheeran had also shown up for two secret sets which I am genuinely dismayed at missing having seen him perform at Latitude back in 2011. All the stops were pulled out this year and so I wish Latitude a very happy tenth birthday.