CMU Review – Latitude Festival

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Latitude 2010
The sun shone in Suffolk as the fifth edition of Latitude took place. Events previously reported here overshadowed things to some extent, the acts performing as a reported rape on the Thursday night and another on Friday made everyone a little uncomfortable, although there was no onsite announcement about either incident.
In fact, it seemed that the only time it was mentioned on stage was when Crystal Castles singer Alice Glass suggested that the perpetrator should be castrated. She then repeatedly jumped into the crowd, later accusing someone of grabbing her breast and hitting said person in the head. The security team continued to drag fans out of an increasingly rowdy moshpit until the band left the stage early as their shouty set was cut mercifully short amid scenes that you wouldn’t normally associate with such a laid back and middle class festival. This was more Reading-style surely, or perhaps Ultimate Fighting Championships?
I don’t want to give the impression that the weekend was shrouded in a veil of violence and tension because, certainly from where we were camped, it was not. The atmosphere was chilled and lovely for the most part, although I’ve heard stories about rampaging teenagers in other campsites and the crowd was significantly younger than I anticipated.
Turning up on Friday afternoon in time to catch The Unthanks’ brand of Geordie folk was a nice introduction to all things Latitude, although what I have been reliably informed was a “tap-dancing percussion segment” was lost on me as a half-hearted Riverdance. Later on that evening Laura Marling looked assured and confident as she played a lovely main stage set and the Obelisk arena (with grandstand seating!) was a beautiful setting in general.
Eddy TM has done a good review of the Empire Of The Sun set in his Eddy Says column (http://eddysays.theCMUwebsite.com/post/Latitude-longitude-and-the-thin-blue-line.aspx) so I won’t rehash that, but after all the spectacle on the main stage the substance came from Richard Hawley in the Word Tent, who battled through bronchitis to deliver his tales of love, loss and Sheffield. And if this was good then The National were even better. Away from the teeny-boppers crowding the main stage for Florence they played a mature, intense and powerful set.
Up in the lovely woods Losers on the Sunrise stage after hours blew the night away, while there was some weird and wonderful UFO stuff happening in the Film & Music tent and a cheesy disco in the comedy tent which was manageable compared to the rammed Guilty Pleasures on Saturday. Having said all that, one of the highlights was finding the lounge room complete with sofas and piano, providing a level of comfort not often found at a festival.
Saturday saw School Of Seven Bells in the Word tent playing their Cocteau-esque brand of pop before James comfortably won the main stage, despite Tim Booth looking like a cross between Ben Kingsley and Ming The Merciless. The Maccabees followed on with some angular and jaunty pop before The Horrors showed a tent how a wall of sound, er, sounds.
All pretty good, but  simply leading up to the main event of Belle & Sebastian who triumphantly headlined with a performance so full of love and joy that grins were everywhere. From the beautiful ‘Fox In The Snow’ to the impromptu cover of ‘Jumpin’ Jack
Flash’ it was all great and even the old festival trick of getting a load of kids on stage for
the favourite song (‘The Boy With the Arab Strap’) was done with charm and wit; “Don’t
touch me!” and “OK, you can get off now”.
On the gorgeous lake there was a platform where fashion shows took place during the day and Daniel Kitson told stories at night and what a beautiful way to nod off at the end of a tiring festival yomp.
Duly inspired by the non-musical side of things, Sunday we saw Adam Buxton do his BUG thing and have a whole crowd of people get ecstatic about a double rainbow, Rufus Hound do a stand up set primarily about blowjobs and Richard Herring tell stories that he wrote as a six year old (while being signed for the deaf).
Back with the music Jamie Liddell was great with his blend of soulful pop, Mumford & Sons had a massive crowd loving the folky-banjo and Yeasayer were a psychedelic, poptastic presence while The Coral were a little uninspired, Jonsi was good without being entirely engaging and I have now been in the presence of a Grizzly Bear live set twice and managed to almost entirely ignore it both times.
Latitude is a lovely festival in a great setting with lots of super touches. From what those that have been since its inception say, maybe it is getting a little larger and busier, but it’s still one of the better weekend bashes out there I’d say. IM

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