Music Editor Katie Costello and co. headed to Suffolk last weekend to take in “arguably the most middle class event of the summer”, but beyond the champagne socialists and Waitrose shoppers, she found a festival rich in its variety of music, arts and landscaping.
[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he Latitude pink sheep were milling around on the river bank and there was already an operatic dance troupe performing on the waterfront as we arrived in Suffolk last weekend. The annual music and arts festival which is arguably the most middle class event of the summer celebrated its tenth anniversary this year, and Exeposé Music was there to cover it.
With an array of stages in contrasting settings, from the mystical woodland areas to the sun soaked waterfront, Latitude’s line-up was impressive for its strength and variety.
New acts were given a platform over the weekend, with both the Alcove Stage and Huw Stephen’s Lake Stage promoting upcoming artists. Standout band Sundara Karma attracted more than passing traffic at the Lake Stage with their fresh take on rock and unflappable confidence. Throwing beer to the crowd and mics to the floor, their antics were offset by heartfelt lyrics sung with immense passion. The Lake Stage surpassed expectation by introducing us to what was, in my opinion, one of the most promising bands of the festival.
The iArena located in the middle of a dust-ridden forest was showcasing more left field acts. Ezra Furman held the audience with his magnetic stage presence. His burly saxophone player may have dwarfed him, but in lipstick and a skirt, he totally dominated the stage, screeching out the lyrics to Wobbly and Body was Made. Furman elevated his melodies further through his critical messages, covering topics from freedom to sexual politics. Leon Bridges, another American with a sax in his band, later graced the stage with songs less meaningful than Furman’s but with his retro twist. They were even better to dance to.
The 6Music Arena seemed to have the youngest demographic, and was host to the loudest bands, with Wolf Alice and Django Django clearly audible half way across the site. Django Django proved themselves to be even more electro than their recorded albums would suggest, with their hypnotic rhythms more than justifying their premier spot in the tent. Illuminated by flashing and rotating images, they seemed to be channelling their inner Kraftwerk, striking a balance between artistry and dance music. However, the best line-up in the arena was the double bill of Catfish and the Bottlemen and the Vaccines, packing out the tent and pushing out many of their more mature listeners. Both played hit after hit, but the only complaint which can be levelled at the former was that at a brief half an hour, Catfish and the Bottlemen clearly had more to give. The Vaccines set included material from all three albums, nicely showcasing how their song writing has improved. Whilst their newer tracks seem to be more interesting, every song was good live, with mosh pits breaking out through some of the heavier guitar riffs and hits like 20/20 and Handsome provoking an intense response from the crowd.
Arguably the best act of the weekend was saved until last, with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds finally taking to the stage on Sunday evening. Playing both newer material and Oasis favourites, Gallagher’s performance was immaculate. He joked with the crowd about the number of Guardian readers present, before dedicating Champagne Supernova to these champagne socialists. Rounding off the set with Don’t Look Back in Anger, he left the crowd calling for an encore, but as he told us Latitude don’t pay overtime, that was all we’d get.
Latitude, of course, has an array of non-musical acts. A particular highlight was Frank Turner Interviewed by Ian Winwood which was fascinating and made all the better when Turner rounded off the Q&A session with rendition of a traditional folk song to make up for the lack of an official performance at the festival. Dr John Cooper Clark attracted a huge crowd in the poetry tent, with people gathered outside, straining to hear his poems, which were both funny and pointed, even if, like us, you couldn’t actually see the great man himself.
Secret sets were reportedly played by Ed Sheeran and Snow Partrol. From what we hear, they were incredible. However, due to the secret sets being, by their very nature, secret, we obtuse so-called- reporters managed to miss every single one of them. Finally cottoning on to what was happening in the woods every evening we set off on the final night to find this mystical gem. Keeping our ears to the ground this time, we heard mutterings of Florence and the Machine, so entered the arena an hour in advance, ready for any surprise act to turn up. Unfortunately, no Florence appeared, just two DJs in brilliant multi-coloured shirts. Interesting, but just a bit underwhelming.
With a good mix of acts and its usual magical setting, Latitude 2015 did itself proud. It celebrated its tenth anniversary with style, yet again providing something for all ages and tastes.
Katie Costello, Music Editor