... Latitude 2017
Festival Republic puts on a top festival an hour from my house in a beautiful setting. I love Latitude. I am happy to pay for weekend tickets as I always have a great time but I know that once I am there FR will try to squeeze me for every possible penny whilst I am captive in the site. Most of the food outlets belong to them as does most of the merchandise. All the other vendors pay a high price to sit at the table. I don’t like all the corporate branding that is appearing but I am mostly able to ignore it. Modern festivals (including Glastonbury) go against the ethos of the early ones, but to be fair they are a lot more comfortable these days, festival toilets are no longer the stuff of nightmares. That’s the way it is, we take it or leave it so fifty one weeks since we last staggered out of the campsite we eagerly stagger back in. Those weeks have both flown and crawled by… As always “we” means the Purple Princess, my constant latitude companion and I.
Thursday and after the big push we set about putting the tent up then spent the afternoon chilling out and watching the canvas village arise around us. As usual we went for a big wander around in the evening, checking things out, has anything changed since last year? Yes and not necessarily for the better. The site is still familiar now and its good to be back. After several circuits we ended up in ‘the Alcove’ for a while, here we were entertained with some old style reggae toasting going on over some classic tunes which was good fun. Then the house band turned up but we couldn’t get passed the singers voice… Keith Allen popped in and out but didn’t actually seem to do a lot.
Friday was mostly spent roaming around for interesting stuff and to be honest not finding much. In the evening we caught a little bit of Goldfrapp at the Obelisk which was OK, nice to hear a few old tunes from years ago. It seemed Miss Goldfrapp’s vocals were “assisted” so I’m unsure how good her voice is but enjoyed it nonetheless.
By far the Friday highlight were Placebo, undoubtedly the best gig of the day. The beginning was spine tingling with “Pure Morning” and it was great gig thereafter, pounding soaring, pulsing rock music, performed with passion and charisma. This is a band I’ve been aware of for years but probably appeared around the time I was up to me elbows in nappies and stuff. I’m sure a proper Placebo fans would have loved this and left the arena buzzing, the PP and I were happy too.
Saturday was another day of wandering, for the first time in a few years we actually found time and space in the Comedy arena seeing the end of Dane Baptiste’s set which got me laughing. He was followed by Adam Hess who didn’t. New comedy superstar Joel Dommett done OK but had to work hard for his laughs. The experienced Andrew Maxwell just walked on and started cracking us up, undoubtedly the funniest show we saw.
We missed Leon Bridges two years ago but weren’t going to let this happen this year. I love his authentic soul sound, I love the beautiful songs and was sure it would work live. The band was tight and the sound was great but Leon’s mic seemed low to begin with? Also starting the show with “Take me to the River” seemed the wrong choice. This is a beautiful song but too slow to for an opener. Something more lively would have got the neutrals in the crowd onside quicker but he won them over in the end anyway. He’s a great performer, a brilliant dancer and we loved the show and still wanted more at the end.
Mumford and Sons are another band that have passed us by but still we returned to the Obelisk arena with an open mind. The first tune was nothing special but the second one was actually pretty good but after that it just flew straight over our heads and we left after half a dozen songs. As no one else was allowed to play while M&S were on, we could still hear them while we wandered around, nothing tempted us to go back into the arena. Had we done so the rendition of “A little help from my friends” would have had us running away, pure cheese. I had to google ‘Gentleman of the road” and from what I understand it just looks like a load of self indulgent bollocks.
Jack Garratt finished the night off in the big tent and he was very good. The tent was hot and we were knackered so watched the end laying on the grass outside. Even from this less than ideal viewpoint we still enjoyed the show.
This year there was only one “Must see” act (more to follow...) and a few that we thought ‘yea that’ll be good’ so plenty of free time for wandering around and finding stuff. Most years this has been good as we’ve discovered new things that have stayed with us ever since but this year we found little or nothing. I’m sure this is just bad luck, we just weren’t in the right place at the right time. Roughly in order the acts we saw in passing this year were; Aine Cahill, Irish poppy folk which was OK, Albin Lee Meldau poppy stuff, again OK. Saw a few minutes of Superglu, a punk band from Manningtree and liked what I heard. Mystery Jets have been around awhile and have a good reputation but I found them bland Eagles wannabees with possibly the worst moustache in festival history. I only saw a few minutes of Sohn but really like what I heard, shame I didn’t catch more. Yorkston/Thorne/Khan flew straight over our heads whilst Jesca Hoop drove us out of the arena. So after two and a bit days were were having a great weekend but nothing had really moved us, in any sense.
We had our best day on the Sunday despite an inauspicious start wandering when initially we found nothing of interest at the Sunrise arena, apart from the fellas strumming acoustic guitars in the woods but we eventually found Mavis Staples authentic bluesy soul sound at the Obelisk, by accident. We settled in and enjoyed the show from a lady whose history, straight out of the civil rights movement, must be admired. After that Sunday just got better and better.
I’d liked Public Service Broadcasting at the festival a couple of years ago so was happy to see them on the bill again. Three nerdy looking blokes make a big sound and cleverly bring things to life with a visual show. The PP really liked these visuals but I found them a little distracting and tried to concentrate on what was happening on the stage, which was plenty. PSB were really good again, the highlight being “Gagarin” complete with dancing cosmonaut.
Loyle Carner blew us away last year so we were happy to be inside the big tent in time for his return to a bigger stage. Once again he was very good, got a great reception and seemed genuinely moved by it. We enjoyed ourselves once again even without the element of surprise. He’s a likeable bloke and I hope he becomes a star.
When the line up was announced back in March one name stood out above all the others, Fatboy Slim was the must see for the weekend and he didn’t disappoint. Purists will moan about a DJ headlining a festival but they are wrong. Fatboy was simply brilliant from beginning to end, the set was perfect and the crowd went absolutely fucking nuts. We danced our way closer and closer and had a fantastic time. I've experienced all kinds of live music audiences over a very long time but these days my absolute favourite is a dance crowd.
The night continued on the other side of the bridge with sets from Trevor Nelson and Danny Rampling. We danced ourselves to exhaustion then staggered back to the tent and collapse. Sunday 16th July 2017 was one of our greatest festival days.
Other stuff. Food was mostly the bland cack we’ve grown to expect with the Tibetan curry being the only exception. To be fair the chips from the “Whitby” stand were good but bad experiences on other stalls has made me nervous of eating festival fish. I didn’t drink much beer this year but the Wherry went down well but when you have Adnams, the best brewery in East Anglia just a few miles down the road it seems such a shame!
Cricket!! Fair play to the dozen or so blokes in full whites who set up a game of Cricket, including umpire, in the campsite on Saturday morning. Unfortunately Latitude always clashes with a test match and this year followed a recent trend of England defeats.
So roll on Latitude 2018, it's only fifty weeks away!