See our reviews of the festival on the Latitude Review Page.
This year was apparently the biggest Latitude festival yet (40,000) people, and the press release said the festival’s director rated it as ‘one of the best’. We had a very lovely time, and the weather was very kind to us, but it probably wasn’t the most stellar year I have seen.
The arts side of the festival remained high quality and diverse, with excellent performances in the newly renamed Speakeasy, that effortlessly flowed from poetry to comedy to literature. However, it does seem that austerity Britain has reached it’s tentacles into the pine-forests of Suffolk, and replaced the literature tent with a Carlsberg emporium, and the outdoor theatre area with a Pimms bus. This seems a bit of shame, but I am happy to say there are still plenty of Live Artists cavorting in the woods doing silly and inexplicable things
On the music front, the headliners didn’t impress (although Placebo rocked pretty hard), and Mumford and Son’s ‘Gentlemen of the Road’ branding was everywhere, but it was pretty unclear what this actually meant. However, as usual the Sunrise Arena was where it was at, for explosive new talent and raw passion, as well as the sublime Sunday morning classical slot.
Here are a few of the other things we happened across, and some of the nice photos we took:
Locker Room Talk by Gary McNair – Theatre Tent – Saturday
This show is certainly worthy of a full review, but as it was presented as a work in progress showing I am not allowed to do so! However, suffice to say I thought it was a really interesting and timely piece of theatre that could probably have done with a slightly better narrative structure to stop it feeling quite so repetitive.
The artist Gary McNair had interviewed men from all strata of society about their understanding of ‘locker room chat’, prompted by Donald Trump’s comments during the election. Their words were then fed via ipods to five women, who embodied the accents and physicality’s of the various males as they spoke their words.
It was unpleasant viewing at times, but also very illuminating of how much misogyny still exists, and how frequently it is couched under the forgive-all headline of ‘banter’. It was an especially interesting counterpoint to the show Manwatching I had seen the previous day, where the words of a woman were spoken by a man.
Surprisingly there were an enormous amount of walk-outs during the show – perhaps a third of the audience. It’s hard to say why, I certainly didn’t think the show deserved it, and whilst the content was shocking, it wasn’t un-hearable. It is always hard to keep audiences at a festival, and perhaps the lack of story and slight repetition of the message led to people feeling as though they had heard it all already, but I don’t think it was fair to the play.
Flashmob Jazz – Film and Music Tent – Friday
This quintent from Brighton kicked off the White Mink club night on the Friday night, entertaining the crowd with their dapper jazz classics, and covers of more modern artists such as Jack Garrett and Daft Punk. They are all accomplished musicians, whose performance was topped off by a swing dancing group from London impressing the left footed amongst us with their fancy moves.
Luke Wright was compereing the new Speakeasy tent, and as the jam packed My Dad Wrote A Porno’s slot finished about 25 minutes early, poor Luke had half an hour to fill, which he did amazingly well. My favourites were the poems he wrote using words containing only one vowel, especially the one called IDS about Ian Duncan Smith, using only the vowel ‘I’. (The acronym title is an obvious necessity given the vowley nature of his name.) the poem ended with a great dig at David Cameron that I sadly can’t remember in all it’s glory, but definitely featured the word ‘swine’ quite a lot!
Dave – Sunrise Arena – Saturday
Like most 19-year-olds, Dave has some interesting things to say, and also some incredibly boring ones. I found his Fire in The Booth set underwhelming, with a few interesting bits, but judging by the enormous crowds of children literally sprinting to see him, I don’t seem to be wholly on board with what da yoof are into (quel surprise). Anyway, they all had a far more marvellous time than me and I dare say the whole affair did Dave’s already swollen ego no harm at all.
IDLES could’ve shown Dave a thing or two about what rewards come with age. They’re the same age as your dad (possibly; they’re the same age as someone’s dad), but they rocked harder than everyone else put together, and reminded me that a lot of the things I would thoughtlessly call “punk” are really nothing more than an Indian head massage when compared to this metaphorical punch in the face.
Lubomyr Melnyk – Sunrise Arena – Sunday
In ludicrously stark contrast, Lubomyr Melnyk is the fastest pianist in the West. And the east, the north, and the south. He has a beard to rival Gandalf, and is super friendly.
Disappointingly for someone with such an exotic name, he has the relaxed, west-coast American accent of a retired surfer, but this sort of makes him rather adorable.
The music is beautiful, and draws a nearly full tent of people who, it turns out, really needed some chilled out classical piano to ease their hangovers (myself very much included).
He explains everything he’s doing in detail, as if we care. He’s thoroughly adorable, and a fantastic way to start Sunday.