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

Latitude 2015 – 10 Year Anniversary

The sun came out and stayed out for Latitude’s triumphant 10th Anniversary, so it was just as well that we punters were permitted to cool-off in the lake for the first time.

There won’t be any prizes for guessing that Wolf Alice turned in the most exciting performance of the festival, but an energetic Malian blues band, Songhoy Blues, ran them close.

The Basics

Headline acts: Alt-J, Portishead, Noel Gallagher

Weather: Sun, sun, sun

Contemparaneous events: Jeremy Corbyn surges in the Labour leadership election, while even the IMF denounced the pernicious conditions the EU attempted to impose on Greece.

Author’s festival credentials: punter with the Testcards and flying the Brewers’ flag

The Scores

5/5 – Top of the Class

Wolf Alice (5*) – this is the one I was waiting for. Undoubtedly the breakthrough album of the year and pure youthful energy on stage. Everything a rock band should be. [4.30pm, Radio 6 stage, Saturday]

Songhoy Blues (5*) – hailing from Mali and following a tradition of blues/West African fusion, the Songhoy Blues boys not only played an adrenalin pumping set, but danced like maniacs, to the crowds massive delight. [5pm, i Arena, Friday]

Titanium – Rojas & Rodrigues – described in the programme as ‘urban flamenco’, this Sadlers Wells supported dance troupe blew away the floating lake stage on a hot afternoon. Friends who only stayed for the first half Spanish stuff missed an incredible breakdancing finale. [2.30pm, Friday, Waterfront Stage]

Sunday Assembly – the non-religious gathering for people who like a lecture and then the chance to sing together. ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’ was one of the highlights of the weekend. [11am, Sunday, Cabaret Arena]

Virtual crossword / nomination whist – not strictly a performance, but the Testivals’ game of imaginary nomination whist (‘Blobs’ in my family), followed by a virtual crossword, made up for the long and ultimately disappointing wait for Thom Yorke as the i-Arena special guest. [11pm, i-Arena, Saturday]

4/5

Luke Wright – a Latitude favourite, the self-styled ‘Stay-At-Home-Dandy’ has some great new material based on his experience of fatherhood, plus clever political observation and, of course, “A lion. I saw a fuckin’ lion”. [11am, Friday, Poetry Arena]

National Youth Theatre of Wales – the World’s Wife is a comic history play by Carol Ann Duffy, played entirely by women, acting out the defining moments of the lives of famous women, plus a few not so famous “wives, lovers, and sisters”. [12 noon, Friday, Poetry Arena]

To Kill A King – I knew that had one cracking song, ‘Love is not Control’, but this set demonstrated they have a lot more besides, as well as being likeable. [8.45pm, Friday, Lake Stage]

Liam Williams – Leftie funny man. [11am, Saturday, Caberet]

Haelos – a bit London Grammar? I liked the astronomical allusions in advance and enjoyed their lunchtime show. [12.50, Saturday, i-Arena]

The Charlatans – Tim Burgess in rock-star mode, very different to his solo shows, and reminding us how many great songs there were on that run of three albums in the mid-nineties, plus ‘Only One’, of course. At some point I’ll get round to writing up their 2015 offering as an Album of the Month. [5.50pm, Saturday, Radio 6 Stage]

Prides – I remember them being uplifting and likeable. Must listen to them properly. [8.45pm, Saturday, Lake Stage]

Portishead – I’m pretty sure they would have been a 5/5 if we’d not run off to catch the ‘special guests’ (see queueing for Thom Yorke above). I thought they would be too melancholic for a headliner but was quite wrong. [9.30pm, Saturday, Obelisk Arena]

Admiral Fallow – intriguing Scottish band that sounded a bit like Midlake. ‘Isn’t This World Enough?’ has admirable shades of late-era Springsteen. And listening to them while writing this it is clear they’ve made a cracking album. [2.45pm, Sunday, i-Arena]

DMAs – I didn’t mean to watch this slightly shambolic Aussie band, but was drawn in by a great hook and then had to say. Compelling. [5pm, Sunday, Alcove]

Warpaint – another band I wasn’t planning on watching, but this 4-piece jagged guitar band deserve all the hype on the basis of this performance. [6.30pm, Sunday, Obelisk Arena]

Manic Street Preachers – Nicky Wire seemed a bit wound up about being the support act to Noel Gallagher, but MSP just have so many great songs it didn’t matter that they didn’t really seem to be enjoying it. [8pm, Sunday, Obelisk]

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – we had decided just to come for the last half hour of Oasis songs, but got pulled in a bit earlier to see Gallagher Snr on top, acerbic form. Probably I am being a bit unfair in not giving this 5/5. [9.30pm, Sunday, Obelisk Arena]

3/5

Massive Dad – clever all-female comedy trio. I think I might have been a bit too hung-over to get the subtleties. [14.10,  Friday, Cabaret Arena]

Public Service Broadcasting – I love this band to bits and their latest album, ‘The Race for Space’, is a marvel that gets played many times a week on the markontour headphones. But this live performance suffered by not using the big screens to show the glorious space race footage the music was made to accompany.

Badly Drawn Boy – I’m scoring this one even though Liz and I were swimming in the lake for most of the performance, because the acoustics from the main stage seemed to work well for aquatic listeners. Damon did throw a real prima donna strop though (more badly behaved than drawn..)! [2.20pm, Saturday, Obelisk Arena]

Beach Baby – bad name, decent band. [1.30pm, Saturday, Lake Stage]

Zachary Lucky – the blurb said ‘Canadian folk’, but it sounded distinctly north American country to me – and no bad thing too. [3.30pm, Saturday, Other Voices]

La Roux – I really enjoyed my 10 minutes in the 6 Music tent watching this proper pop star and I’m sure the performance merited a higher rating had I seen more. [7.35pm, Sunday, Radio 6 Stage]

2/5

Aunty Donna – I think these were the ones who split the audience into i-Phone users and everyone else? I left for Noel Gallagher, but a packed tent was loving it. [10pm, Sunday, Cabaret Arena]

1/5

Thom Yorke – sorry. I admire Thom Yorke and like Radiohead, but experimental electronica was not what was needed from a midnight special guest spot. Ed Sheeran did a karaoke set.. [Midnight, Saturday, i-Arena]

Here’s what you could have won

With the exception of Stornaway, who we caught at the Port Eliot Festival and were brilliant, I’m not sure there’s anything I missed that I really wanted to see – except the end of the Portishead set, of course..

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