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Latitude Festival 2011

Often named as the family friendly festival, Latitude Festival has established itself as one of the main contenders for the larger festival audience. With 35,000 people entering the gates of Southwold’s Henham Park over the weekend, Latitude excelled itself in terms of activities for its more younger and immature punters and entertainment for adults of all ages. Although the weekend had warnings of thunderstorms, heavy rain and then extreme sunshine, the radical weather had no impact on festival spirits and fun, providing the perfect weekend for all.

Primarily Latitude is a music event, however, what seems to set this festival apart from the rest is its emphasis on theatre, film, poetry and comedy, along with many other genres of art performance and creativity. Such displays ranged from art galleries in the woods to impromptu plays in amongst the fairy lights and barbeques. During the day-time the festival is set alive by its vibrant atmosphere, and is very welcoming to the humble festival goer. Others may be put off by the family aspect to the event but conversely details such as the childrens arena create a much more relaxed and clean experience. With the mature family audience that the festival attracts the likely hood of finding litter and disgusting toilet facilities is hard to find, there is a huge respect to keep this festival looking as beautiful as the first day everyone arrived. With picnics populating the Obliesk arena, instead of the madness that many other large events generate, people were still able to sit on green grass by the end of the weekend, despite the downfalls and thousands of wellies that walked up and down its fields. Latitude’s attention to detail this year was superb, and provided a much more fulfilling and enjoyful experience. On the other hand, at night time, the festival turns into a mystical land, something you would expect to find in novels such as Narnia. With floating 3D river shows, shed disco’s, The Electric Hotel headphone performance, fairy lights and midnight DJ’s, Latitude excels itself on everything a festival should be and leaves everyone wanting more.

Some of the best new music acts performed over the weekend, and of course some old favourites graced the various stages throughout. A highlight however has to be Seasick Steve, being a festival favourite Seasick Steve always brings in a huge audience and a special young lady who gets the chance to be sang to on stage by the old swooner himself. What made his performace special this year was the onstage guest that quite literally left all of the audience either speechless or chocking on their pint of cider; none other than legendary Led Zepplin’s bass guitarist John Paul Jones. With the two playing guitar solo’s together and bouncing off each others talents, this was not only the performance of the festival but surely the performance of the summer.

Quite simply nothing else matched up to this set over the festival and even Seasick Steve himself had to drag himself away from the stage, bowing down to the crowd on his knees after it was time to leave and make way for British indie-punk band The Cribs. One of the first sets where the band would be playing without ex Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, the band prove that they are one of the best bands playing the festival with their classic indie anthems and love for performing. Playing favourites such as ‘Another Number’, ‘Men’s Needs’, and ‘Hey Scenesters!’ The Jarman brothers remind us of what made them such an important band before Marr joined forces. Even in the depths of Southwold The Cribs still had their following screaming cries of ‘Wakefield, Wakefield!’ Although some may argue that they had a difficult spot following Seasick Steve and John Paul Jones, the energetic trio pull out the all of the stops with a special performance of Be Safe, a song that was only previously played on their one of Leeds Brudenell Social Club shows. On the big screens appeared Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo contributing his vocals on the song, with the band screaming their chorus inbetween his spoken words. This performance represented everything that punk music for the generation of young indie fans today should be, simply kicking any other tattoo wearing, skinny jeaned band that were playing the smaller stages over the weekend in the teeth.

Headlining the main stage on the Saturday, the one and only Scottish gem Paolo Nutini, providing some controversy between music fans whether he deserved to be on the top spot on the main day in comparison to the Friday night headliner The National and the closing headline Suede. Although a self confessed Nutini lover, he did not disappoint on the day, proving that he is one of the best male solo acts of the past few years. Opening with crowd mover ‘Ten Out Of Ten’ leaving the whole of the arena on their feet jumping with screams of ‘Marry me Paolo’ from both men and women. Yet this seemed to be the main highlight of his performance, as after the opener Nutini stuck to his more low key numbers, including an acoustic cover of Hot Chip’s ‘Over and Over’, which was impressive, but left some of us wondering where the excitement generated from his first song had left to. Nonetheless, this was a great and passionate performance from Nutini with only his set list being the cause for criticism of his performance. Other outstanding performances of the weekend included the dramatic presences of Cats Eyes and Anna Calvi, providing a real hope for some of the new artists of today when put alongside some of the most established acts in their genres. Proving a hit with the more teenage and energetic audience were the sets from newbies The Vaccines and indie superstars Foals, their performances should have come with added crowd crushing, diving, barrier collapsing warnings. Certainly not one for the smaller Latitude goer, but the bands performances exceed expectations and provide some perfect anthems for the teenage generation that also love the festival.

Amidst all the bands and the rain, we managed to get a sneaky peak of Dylan Moran’s set in the comedy tent, despite the fact that it was completely packed, inside and out. The irish gent performed a brilliant stand up, and used some of the classic lines from his recent national tour, giving us that extra chance to laugh a little bit more. Not bad for a festival that is only in its sixth year, with so much to do, and a real friendly environment from the people who attend, Latitude is surely one of the best contenders for this summers festivals.

Words > Rhian Brighton
Photos > Franc Botha

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