12th – 15th July 2018
Yet again it was another rain-free scorcher of a Latitude Festival and I am not just talking about the weather. Henham Park looked more like the African Savannah with the parched and yellowed grass stretching out across the festooned and beautifully lit site. The queues for the swimming were the longest I’ve seen, and it was tempting (but not tempting enough) to wait two hours for a dip in the lake.
The festival had ditched the greasy fast food vendors this year and instead had a ‘street eats’ area, with lots of exciting independent food stalls selling goodies from all over the world. I was slightly cynical about this before I went, as from the press releases this seemed to be touted as an attraction in its own right (when in fact it was just a way of relieving you of more money.) However, despite definitely emptying my purse, the food was no more expensive than the prosaic burger vans of old, and it was much more delicious. (Mmmmm Dosas!) The ‘Theatre of Food’ was also a nice touch, with cookery demos and Q&A’s with various foodies.
We have our music and arts round up below, and you can read some full reviews here.
Arts Round Up
The theatre at this year’s Latitude was again a smaller programme than we have seen in past years, not least because the cow-barn venue seems to have permanently gone, sadly. However, they do seem to have brought in more of the big guns in terms of what is on at the theatre tent, and that venue is still able to deliver shows with reasonably high production values.
There were a few small things I caught, as well as previews, which deserve a mention.
I’m a Phoenix, bitch!
I can’t review this as it’s a very rough work in progress, however, suffice to say Bryony Kimmings is back onstage and is using it as a way to heal. I last saw her at Latitude a couple of years ago doing her show Fake it ‘til you make it, with her partner Tim, looking at his depression, and towards their loved up future with the baby she was carrying at the time.
Two years on, she has been through hell – with her baby being diagnosed with a horrible form of epilepsy and her relationship deteriorating. This show attempts to explore that time of unraveling and fear, and she does it in her inimitable style of irreverent humour, searing honesty and the occasional song.
She’s working on the show over the summer and it will be on at BAC in its full form in October. I’m looking forward to it very much.
Angela Barnes was on in the short slot before Marcus Brigstocke, and I was glad I caught her. She was a funny political comedian, tackling Brexit, Jacob Reese-Moog’s oh-so-punchable face and the death trap playgrounds of the early 80s. As someone who has chosen not to have children, she is rankled by the fact that asking about this fact is not just small talk and is actually very personal and rude. It’s a good point, and made with equal measures of humour and genuine frustration. Her set is full of great one-liners and not-at-all hackneyed musings on moving into your 40s (which was just the right Latitude demographic.) I would like to see a fuller set from her, and will look out for it.
Flight is another shipping container show from David Rosenberg and Glen Neath, following on from Séance a couple of years ago. It takes you into a pitch black 3D experience of being in an aircraft crash (of all things). As you walk into the container (mercifully air conditioned in this heat), you find yourself in a perfect replica of a passenger aeroplane, which is more than a little surreal. I think the piece is meant to be a musing on mortality and the preciousness of life, but I was rather distracted by my own thoughts about how many people must totally freak out in this show, and whether it was in entirely good taste.
Nick Muhammad, filled the cabaret tent for his character comedy, but I sadly couldn’t get in as it was so packed, so I ended up seeing Tom Lucy, a young comedian who was not brilliant, with some rather obvious jokes, but seemed to keep the audience amused. This was followed by Simon Evans, a confident old stalwart of a comedian, with quick one-liners of usually high quality. He informs us of his temptation to say something hugely racist to this crowd of left-leaning people, but he reigns himself in, I rather wished he’d done it as a social experiment. I suspect the tent would have combusted into a pile of middle class outrage.
There were some great music offerings at Latitude Festival this year, with the surprise added bonus of a secret set from Liam Gallagher, which was unexpectedly brilliant. However there are as always snippets of things that I caught half a set of, or weren’t quite deserving of a full review.
Go! Team make really amazing videos, and try really hard. They are full of positivity and energy. I’d like to applaud this sort of thing, but the truth is that their songs sound like the soundtracks to DFS adverts, or perhaps frightening and confusing Japanese cartoons.
Also on the Obelisk Stage during the day was Juanita Stein. I didn’t mean to watch her but I managed to find tea made without oat milk (very exciting!) and I spotted a tiny patch of shade by the mixing desk. During the gig a plane flew over dragging a banner reading: “Jesus loves every 1 of u”. I know this isn’t strictly music journalism but it did sour my mood somewhat, so this gig may well have been better than it felt! Juanita Stein sounds like a lot of other people, but was still nice. She was also rather charming addressing the crowd. She, like us, is having problems with ants in her tent. I feel a strong sense of solidarity!. I may never listen to her again, but I liked her. It really was an excellent patch of shade though!
My Sad Captains over at the Sunrise Arena did the sort of happy-sad, folky, shoe-gazey thing beautifully. Lovely, drifty, melodically gentle. They won over the crowd and were the perfect accompaniment to the first cold beer of a very swelteringly hot day. They had time to convince me that they’re far more than a silly name. Gonna check these guys out back at home. Lovely!
Alex Cameron sounded like Bruce Springsteen, so I didn’t go anywhere near him.
Caswell, on the other hand, sounded gorgeous, and had managed to draw quite a crowd around the sweltering Lake Stage. I wanted to stop, but was on my way to Something Terribly Important.
There’s always a classical act on the Sunday lunchtime. This year it’s Pianofield, two people who aren’t fields, but do explain that their music is inspired by nature, which by some definitions could include fields. The pianist is keen to talk to us, while we’re quite keen to hear more of the tinkly lovelies thank you. The crowd happily lie back on the dry grass and let it wash around them, as do I. It’s very lovely, involving samples of wind, footsteps and strange noises I can’t identify. It also features sustain pedals and live looping. All very clever and very soothing. Having been rudely awoken far too early by the tortuous heat of the tent, this is the perfect balm.