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Brilliant, clever and different but be ready to be quirky or you’re going to be left behind by it. 8/10 – by Thom Louis
It is always difficult to review a festival. No matter what has happened to you, someone else will have had a totally different so I will spend this review trying my best to describe the experience that I had over my 5 day period.
And so ostrich burger in one hand and houmus in the other I stepped into apocalyptic murk of the festival. The atmosphere in both the campsite and arena was brilliant and genuine with wonderful lines audible such as “Alfie could you please pass the croissants”. This seems like a perfect moment to mention latitude’s leanings towards a rather middle class crowd. It is more true than I ever could have imagined, the names that came out of heckles in the comedy tent were enough to prove that. Maxim, Raffy and Ebony are only some examples of the fantastic names one came across as you moved through the many tents that the festival had to offer.
This is one of the true glories of Latitude, the sheer amount of choice that it provides when it comes to acts. Not only do you get the standard three music tents but also a comedy tent including some of the greatest comics in the country, the poetry arena, the theatre tent, the cabaret arena and even an arena called the faraway forest (god knows what went on there). This on top of a manufactured lounge in the middle of a forest and a flock of coloured sheep.
Not that this diversity posed any threat to the musical line-up. The line-up was based almost entirely around the alternative folk scene and had quite an odd lilt. Acts such as Laura Marling and Frank Turner were common place while the choice of the brilliant Belle and Sebastian playing their first live show since 2004 as headliners on the Saturday showed that the Latitude line-up was aiming not only to impress the normal festival goer but to provide something special this year. This was proved to be correct as these acts pulled out all the stops to show their talent. Belle and Sebastian showed something magical and enchanting during their performance while Florence and her Machine with their first big headline show proved to us that the hype around her is not just hot air. My particular highlight was the performance of Jonsi (lead singer of Sigur Ros – pictured) who provided something eclectic, powerful and tribal from the smaller word stage. I genuinely believe 5 men could not make better music together.
Unfortunately the diversity of Latitude’s line up as well as being its strength is also its weakness. Many impressions of Latitude are as a teenage artist, he is trying his best to be different but all that you notice is that he is trying too hard. As any Edinburgh Fringe goer will know, to stand out in an alternative market you have to have something special and this can be equally awful or brilliant. Acts such as the druidic marriage services and the sound manipulator (basically a man dressed in a fake space suit) were so weird that they were not even entertaining and cut through the potential alternative fun of the festival. This was made up for instantly, however, when a fifties female acapela trio began singing creep in harmony.
So to enjoy this festival properly you have to be willing to experience something a little bit different and be able to go with the flow as things get a little bit LSD on you. Be ready to see bands that you had no intention of seeing and be willing to see theatre, poetry or something a little stranger, anything could surprise you and be brilliant at this festival. If you’re there only to see music, you’re likely to get bored very quickly. If you like the smell of books, vegan food, folk music and the arts, Latitude is definitely the festival for you if this sounds too odd for you in a festival then probably best to stay at home.