Latitude 2021 was always going to be different, but it was just wonderful to be back seeing live music with friends. There weren’t as many stages as usual, and perhaps a little less variety or surprise, but it didn’t matter – everyone was focused on enjoying themselves. This isn’t really a blog as much as a list for the memory banks, but herewith the markontour review of Latitude 2021:
The heavenly performances
- Wolf Alice, Obelisk Arena, Friday 9.50pm
A mesmerising and exuberant performance from a guitar band who, with three incredible albums under their belt, now seem set to become all conquering. Lead singer Ellie Rosewell protests in her lyrics that she is shy, but on stage she transforms into a true rock goddess.
- Rich Hall, Comedy Arena, Saturday 1.20pm
Half an hour of belly laughs as Rich Hall shared his acerbic takes on Britain and America, including the tale of how “my Great Granddady started a gorse fire”; and a muse on the tendency for British comedy films to be set in “villages devastated by Thatcher…will the supply ever run out?”.
- Damon Albarn, Waterfront, Saturday 7.30pm
The sound system on the gorgeous Waterfront stage struggled at first to compete with the blast of Rudimental from the Obelisk Arena (which I was gutted clashed), but Albarn’s enthusiastic performance transcended the technical difficulties and crescendoed to a euphoric, crowd assisted version of Polaris. Lump in your throat time.
- Ellie Dixon, BBC Introducing, Saturday 8pm
A triumphant introduction to a singer song-writer who is only just starting her live performance career, having built an online following during the pandemic. An eclectic mix of Loyle Carner-esque vocal delivery and guitars, with sparkling, witty lyrics. Dixon’s set demonstrated why live music can’t be beaten, following a wonderful moment near the start when one enthusiastic dancer encouraged half the audience, including markontour, to get up and dance with him.
- Greentea Peng, Sunshine Arena, Sunday 9.45pm
An uplifting set from a singer who is hard to pigeon-hole, but certainly fits the descriptions of “psychedelic” and “soulful” as promised in the Latitude programme. Perfect for the woodland Sunrise stage as night fell and the festival drew to a close.
Other great shows
- Lucy Blue, Sunrise Arena, 2.15pm Friday
Looking exceedingly nervous performing at her first ever festival, but singing like a melancholic angel, with some clever lines and beautiful melody. I particularly liked “I’ll be your ground control / If you’ll be my Tom / I’ll be your radio / If you’ll be my song”. Markontour was totally sold.
- Liz Lawrence, The Alcove, 6.15pm Sunday
Visibly delighted to be back on stage and apparently surprised at the fulsome response from the crowd. Lawrence’s ‘None of My Friends’ was on the 6 Music playlist throughout 2019 (& markontour’s Festive Fifteen of that year!) & she’s probably had to wait until now to see the effect. A performance that brought a smile to everyone’s faces.
- Weird Milk, The Alcove, 5.15pm Sunday
Angular, smiley, harmony-infused indie-pop from a five-piece all male band featuring a singing drummer wearing what I took to be 1940s attire, but looking at the band photos may have been more of a ‘60s beatnik look. Really want to see them again.
- Colin Macleod, Sunrise Arena, 3.30pm Friday
Friday seems to have been the afternoon for me at the Sunrise stage. Hailing from the Western Isles of Scotland, Macleod and friends sang songs about about small island life, including one about a bloke getting thrown through a pub window in Stornoway & closing with a strangely euphoric ballad about lost love.
- Simon Amstell, Comedy Arena, 5.15pm Friday
The former Buzzcocks host is back & worrying about having a baby (“I’ve only ever lived in a flat – I haven’t even had stairs, how can I have a baby?”). Great new material, but the best bit was an unrehearsed riff with the sign language interpreter, who may even have got the better of him.
- Kate Godliman, Comedy Arena, 12.40pm Saturday
Very funny and quick-witted comedian who recounted how her husband’s face used to show unconditional love when he looked at her, but after eighteen months of lockdowns he “looks like a care-worker at the end of a long shift”.
- The pop-up forest choir, Faraway Forest, 1pm Saturday
Singing meaningless words in harmony with strangers in the woods. Wonderful.
- Black Honey, Sunrise Arena, 9.45pm Saturday
Blondiesque pop-punk, all catchy hooks and high energy. I only caught part of their set and will now have a proper listen to their albums.
- Bill Bailey, Obelisk Arena, 11.30am Sunday
Fun in the sun with Bill telling rambling jokes and showing off on guitar, mandolin, bells, horns, and piano. Lots of references to Strictly – “I’m here because I won a competition”, and I liked his description of Boris Johnson as “a toxic giant haystack”.
- John Cooper Clark, The Listening Post, 7.30pm Sunday
He’s all over the place these days, but he’s got so much great material and an endless supply of one-liners that it’s always worth turning up. Musing on country life: “If you shot a peasant, could you get off on the grounds of dyslexia?”
- Mr Jukes and Barney Artist, BBC Sounds, 12pm Friday
Bombay Bicycle’s bass player, Jack Steadmen, teaming up with London rapper, Barney Artist, to funky effect.
- Christopher Bliss, The Outpost, 11.50am Saturday
Funny stuff about hidden meanings and the need for politeness in a novel’s first lines. Peter Pan’s “All children, but one, grow up!” has a very different meaning with Bliss’ intonation. “Call me Ishmael” – why couldn’t Herman Melville at least have managed “Call me Ishmael, please“?
- Raj Poojara, The Outpost, 4.30pm Friday
Gentle comedy about being British Indian and what to tell, or not to tell, parents who are overly focused on family advancement.
- Mark Thomas, Theatre Arena, 1.15pm Saturday
I only caught the very end of his set, but Thomas was on great form, campaigning and amusing with equal verve, & I enjoyed singing Hen Wlad fy Nhadau as an example of a national anthem to be proud of (Wales), after a Thomas tirade against God Save The Queen.
- Luke Wright, The Listening Post, 10pm Thursday
Sitting down in what used to be the poetry tent with its former compere, Luke Wright, was the perfect way to start the festival. ‘The Ballad Seller’ material that was the mainstay of this set isn’t as good as his stuff inspired by contemporary events, such as ‘What I Learned From Jonny Bevan’, but he’s always good value.
Other stuff I caught
- Villagers, BBC Sounds, 6.25pm Saturday
I love Villagers, mainly based on their album of re-recorded back-catalogue, ‘Where Have You Been All My Life’ & its haunting cover of ‘Witchita Lineman’, and this set was gently beautiful be we had to leave early to get a good spot for Damon Albarn.
- Holly Humberstone, BBC Sounds, 5.15pm Saturday
A bit too poppy and autotuned for my taste, but a biggish crowd was enjoying it.
- Goat Girl, Sunrise Arena, 8.30pm Friday
I think I must just have been in the wrong mood because I’ve enjoyed listening to their latest album a lot this year, but on this occasion I wandered off after a few songs.
- Danny Does The Crossword, Faraway Forest, 2pm Sunday
I was hoping to learn how to do cryptic crosswords, but just reaffirmed that I don’t have the requisite mental agility for them. Fun trying though.