As the crowds roll in to Henham Park, Suffolk, the diversity of those in attendance is obvious. Families have ditched their usual Europe summer escape, festival virgin teenagers carry crates of Strongbow and enthuse each other to get as legless as possible and the religious yearly attendees bond with campers who they have met on previous years. The sun is beaming, the atmosphere is emphatic and there is a stir of excitement in the air; because this is Latitude and everyone knows what’s in store, a weekend of unforgettable music, weird and wonderful art and a community with one thing in common- to have a bloody fantastic time!
Singer and songwriter Lapsley kicks off the weekend of faultless performances on the Friday afternoon, encapsulating the crowds that flock with her ambient yet electronic songs. This is followed by the much awaited U.K duo, Slaves who channel their despair of modern day life into charismatic punk and gritty 1970s pub rock. Renditioning favorites from old albums and new, fans are enigmatically dancing and full of satisfaction at the carnage on stage. The first night ends with a pleasing and well-executed performance from the Maccabees on the main stage. Despite their performance of popular songs like ‘Toothpaste Kisses’ their slow set list left some revelers wanting more and wondering if the Maccabees really were the right choice for the headline slot. As the sun sets, the kids slope off to kip, and the rest head to the woods for a set from Artful Dodger followed by Mike Skinner and Murkage which ignites a long night of raving continued. And suddenly, this is where it’s evident that no other small British festival quite manages to strike this balance between established names, shrewd gambles, newcomers and DJ’s.
Saturday afternoon, Daughter gives those with sore heads from the night before the perfect opportunity to lie back in the grass and stare into the blue skies in utter content at the perfection and raw talent of the moody folk trio. Scottish electro-pop band Chvrches then produce one of the best sets of the weekend, their vivid, upbeat anthems slaying the Obelisk Arena. With ‘Never Ending Circles’ and ‘The Mother We Share’ being particular crowd pleasers.
The legendary Belgian electro-rock act Soulwax headlined the second stage on Saturday night. As a long running duo the set delivers a striking balance between highly anticipated new material and some pretty robust takes on their Nite Versions classics. As a 10 year old album, Its clear to all the sheer power music can have, as the young old and crazy get into tracks like ‘KracK’ and ‘E-Talking’ all together.
Getting straight into the mix with a knock out performance of ‘Don’t Swallow The Cup’, the only ever act to headline twice, The National, made latitude history on Saturday night at the obelisk stage. Enthralling the crowd with an array of music from all 6 albums, and Surprising everyone with a couple of new tracks, The National really shone through and it was obvious why they deserved this headline spot with their enigmatic and victorious set.
As the Festival rolls to an end, it just get better and better. Melbourne music scene; vocals hailing from the Melbourne music scene, Chet Faker kills it on Sunday afternoon, combining electronica with acoustic elements and soulful bliss. Over on the BBC Radio 6 stage UK hip-hop pioneer Roots Manuva kept the tempo and spirits up high, the sea of hip hop fans reveling in every moment. As ‘Witness the Fitness’ began blasting through the tent he made sure to let us all know why he’s King of UK Hip hop.
Iconic Mancurian band New Order are the final headliners of the weekend and their set is much more electronically-orientated than in the past, with cuts from their new album like ‘Plastic’ and updated classics like ‘True Faith’ and ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ forming a faultless playlist. An encore of their signature song ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ tribute to their past as Joy Division, cause thunderous applause and bring a highly enjoyable festival to an end.
However, this little Festival hidden in the woods doesn’t only kill it when it comes to music, but also knocks the ball out the park with its array of theatre, comedy and arts acts. Surprising crowds over the weekend with attendance from the likes of Adam Buxton interviewing journalist Louis Theroux, and Florence Welch introducing her documentary ‘The Odyssey’. And with this plethora of random theatre acts, surprise performances and surprises round every corner, Latitude Festival continues to go from strength to strength, reinforcing its status as the ‘biggest small festival’ in Britain.
For a weekend you will never forget, whatever your age and interests, Latitude has is all…. Including multi-coloured sheep!!