By Sam Cleeve
Latitude started out as something of an alternative to festival season’s mainstays – a little more gently pastoral than the post-GCSE armageddon of Reading and Leeds, a little less of the thrilling batshit-bedlam of Glastonbury, whilst altogether less embarrassing than getting caught doltishly gawking at a set from The Enemy at T In The Park. Luckily, that’s (largely) what it remains.
Of course change is inevitable. Latitude has expanded dramatically during its relatively short lifespan, and the line-up has had to change to suit their shifting demographic accordingly. Did you know, for example, that Mogwai (yes, Scottish post-rock legends Mogwai) headlined the Sunday night of the inaugural Latitude a whopping six years ago? This year’s Obelisk Arena headliners are Bon Iver, Elbow, and Paul Weller, and while Justin Vernon’s nine-piece touring band features the catastrophic roar of Colin Stetson’s bass saxophone, while the ever-relatable Guy Garvey will surely lead his adoring crowd in jubilant song, while Paul Weller will tear through a set that dives into the abyss of his back catalogue, there’s a few too many people up there that your gran might describe as “looking like a nice chap”, you know? Elsewhere on the main stage it’s more of the same: on Saturday, Laura Marling presents her home-counties Joni Mitchell stylings, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros put in a set of their ramshackle upbeat pop, and Metronomy perform songs from their Mercury-nominated The English Riviera. While these and other acts (Michael Kiwanuka, Ben Howard, Glen Hansard, First Aid Kit) are all more than worth your time and attention, they’re not the most exciting sounds the festival has to offer. Which is why I implore you to turn your sights to The Word Arena and The i Arena.
– Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Firstly, The Word Arena. Friday’s most exciting double-bill comes when The War On Drugs’s shimmering indie-rock is set to cascade into the atmospheric turmoil of The Antlers, and later on in the day Lana Del Rey is certain to fill the tent to bursting point. A horrifically low billing means that Sharon Van Etten – whose sophomore LP Tramp is one of the highlights the year thus far – opens the stage on Saturday, and it’s testimony to the power of Josh T Pearson’s Last of the Country Gentlemen that he’s still getting booked all this time since his first solo record was released (while the music might be devastating, don’t worry that your high-spirits might be deflated; Pearson’s on-stage demeanour is one of the few that can challenge friend and collaborator Warren Ellis (of Dirty Three fame) in terms of entertainment value). Sunday’s highlights include a high-octane mid-afternoon set from Battles, a synth overload from M83, and what’s sure to be a subtly elegant performance from Wild Beasts. At The i Arena there’s yet more highlights, with the likes of Tune-Yards, Kurt Vile, I Break Horses, Perfume Genius, Slow Club, Other Lives, François and the Atlas Mountains and Daughter all featuring on the stage over the course of the weekend.
– Sharon Van Etten
This contrast in itself seem likely enough to bring in a diverse audience, and that’s before you even look beyond the two largest stages. Elsewhere, there’s a performance from Van Dyke Parks and the Britten Sinfonia in the Film & Music Arena, an appearance from Adam Buxton on that same stage, and a guest slot from no less than classical pianist-wunderkind Lang Lang on The Waterfront Stage. With everything from theatre to poetry and cabaret to comedy also planned for the weekend, it’s a bit of a nightmare that there’s no set-times up on the Latitude website, nor a clash-finder – because let’s face it, we’ll need one.