Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

Latitude 2014

Ah, Latitude again, for what is becoming an annual pilgramage with my lifetime best friends. The performances don’t really matter when you are with the your favourite people, but Latitude never fails to deliver a lovely, varied and intriguing combination of music, theatre, poetry, dance, and comedy. But whereas it can be a bit stressful trying to fit everything in at Glastonbury, Latitude’s smaller size makes it a reliably relaxing experience.


Headline acts: Lily Allen, Damon Albarn, The Black Keys

Weather: sunny, with one big downpour towards the end of Damon Albarn’s set

Contemparaneous events: as Froome & Contador crashed out, Nibali was racing away to victory in Le Tour; Gaza under siege; and a Malaysian passenger plane shot down over war-torn Ukraine

Author’s festival credentials: punter with the Testcards


The Scores

See ‘Festvial Anthology Explained‘ for an explanation of my scoring system.



  • Rob Auton (5*) fellow Walthamstow resident and performance poet, Rob Auton, got Latitude off to a beautiful start with his ‘Sky Show’. The big blue stuff above our heads was the recurring theme, including a wonderful poem about a child creating a Lego sunset. ‘Collect The All’ rightly got the biggest response, encapsulating a show that was mostly very funny, but also included moments of “aah”-inducing beauty and aching poignancy. “Ladies and Gentleman. These are the names we give to the toilets.” Genius. [Friday, Poetry Tent, Noon]
  • Goat (5*) – they maybe a bunch of Scandanvian weirdos in voodoo masks, but their pounding show was mesmeric. Dance. Dance. Dance. Dance. [Friday, 6 Music Stage, 6pm]
  • Lily Allen – top notch pop with smiling attitude. She even got away with covering Keane. And when Lily told us she is the happiest she’s ever been, we all felt good too. [Friday, Obelisk Arena, 9.30pm]
  • Damon Albarn – a really great show, that brought out the best of his solo album along with a slew of Blur hits. Plus a touching moment when Graham Coxon came on stage to the biggest cheer of the evening. [Saturday, Obelisk Arena, 9.30pm]
  • The Establishment Club – I’m not sure who was on vocals but, supported by Keith Allen’s band, he gave a fantastic rendition of ‘Georgia on My Mind’, which finished the festival off perfectly. I am awarding 5 stars for that one song alone. [Sunday, The Establishment Club, 1am]


  • Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott – I just love the songs and in the Suffolk sun there was the added bonus of Heaton on engaging, chatty form. [Friday, Obelisk Arena, 1.35pm]
  • Billy Bragg – the Barking Bard focussed heavily on his Woody Guthrie material for this main stage appearance, balancing his biggest selling songs alongside a lovely ‘You Woke Up My Neighbourhood’ and a new anti-DiY anthem (how the subject matter has changed), ‘Handyman Blues’, which I like more every time I hear it. [Friday, Obelisk Arena, 2.45pm]
  • Guilty Pleasures – the novelty really should have worn off by now, but it was still great to be dancing in a sloping tent to one-hit wonders and disco anthems as friends arrived and the night closed. [Friday, Comedy Tent, midnight]


  • Katie Bonnafunny enough performance poetry to want to see a full show. [Friday, Poetry Tent, 11am]
  • Mighty Oaksclap-along Americana that a decent crowd in the forest really enjoyed. [Friday, I-Arena, 12.50pm]
  • Childhoodlively teengage indie band who have the makings of being really good. [Friday, Lake Stage, 5.20pm]
  • Vaultsthe programme promised “ethereal vocals with bells”. Vaults delivered and it was about right for first thing on Saturday, although I later discovered that I had missed John Osbourne in the Poetry Arena and was disappointed. [Saturday, I-Arena, 12 noon)
  • Rag ‘n’ Bone ManI suspect that this bearded soul belter deserved more than 3 stars, but I only caught him intermittently as I wafted back and forth trying to re-connect with friends in a world without mobile signal. [Saturday, Lake Stage, 2pm]
  • Tommy Tiernangently funny Irish comic, whose primary subject matter was his homeland. [Saturday, Comedy Arena, 5pm]
  • Clean Banditwe stumbled upon this lot in a gap between bands and enjoyed a good half hour of dancing to the kind of synth-pop that normal turns me numb. I wish we had stayed to the end, rather than leaving for the under-whelming Black Keys. [Sunday, Radio 6 Stage, 8.45pm]
  • Marcus Brigstocke, Andrew Maxwell & Mark Steel: Policy Unit if I had been listening to this on Radio 4 at home it would have been a perfect Sunday morning comedic rip through the news, but with so much else on offer I felt a little bit like I had lost an hour. However, I have just been reading Morrissey’s autobiography and fea r that some of the miserabilsm may have rubbed off.. [Sunday, 11am, Comedy Arena]
  • William Onyeabor Projecta super-group performance of West African music on the main stage, which provided a great backdrop to a sunny lunch break. [Sunday, 1pm, Obelisk Arena]
  • Parquet Courts I think they are going to be on of those bands who promise so much but somewhow just fail to be brilliant, a couple of stand-out tracks aside. This was a solid performance, but no fireworks. [Sunday, Radio 6 Stage, 4.55pm]
  • The Fat White Familythey were incendiary at Glastonbury, but we only caught a glimpse here and I think I was a couple of shandys short of the mindset needed to properly appreciate the madness that engulfs this band. Nevertheless, this lot are pure adrenalin. [Sunday, I-Arena, 6.10pm]


  • Josie Longmaybe it was a bit too clever for me to spot the jokes? [Saturday, Comedy Arena, 11.15am]
  • Teensynth day in the forest. Not my cup of tea. [Saturday, I-Arena, 12.50]
  • Auntie Flowe came for a dance and ended up signing our own tunes over Aunt Flo’s repetitive beats, so I guess it was fun really, but we left as soon as the rain stopped. [Saturday, I-Arena, midnight]
  • Patrick Barkham apparently his book about badgers is brilliant, but the man needs either to express some opinions if he is going to stand up and talk about it. I’m still not sure whether he was for or against the badger cull. [Sunday, Literary Arena, 5.20pm]


  • The Black Keysin the context that the Black Keys are a big-selling, headline band this was a predictable, derivative, repetitious yawnathon. I’m on Jack White’s side. [Sunday, Obelisk Arena, 9.30pm]


Things I wished I’d seen if I’d read the programme properly..

  • John Osbourne: New Blur Album – a clever and funny member of the Aisle 16 performance poetry collective, we saw Osbourne deliver a fantastic one-man show about John Peel last year, and this would no doubt also have been equally enlightening. Now I have to find out where I can see him outside of the festival season.. [Saturday, Poetry Arena, 12.10]



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