By Sam Cleeve
July 13-15, 2012
Part I of our coverage of this year’s Latitude festival can be found here.
A little later on Saturday, and we return to The Word Arena to catch masked London beat-maker SBTRKT. It’s the rowdiest a Latitude crowd gets all weekend–as tensions begin to mount before Aaron Jerome and his right-hand man Sampha take to the stage, we’re flanked by an unprecedented number of Topman wife-beaters, and there’s a staunch smell of Lynx in the air. Predictably then, things get a bit boisterous. In a sort of pseudo-riot, tentative pushing‘n’shoving, middle-class kind of way. Regardless, the duo put in an electrifying performance–from opener ‘Never Never’ through to the likes of ‘Wildfire’ and ‘Pharaohs,’ the pair blast through SBTRKT’s eponymous debut LP with an unrelenting ferocity.
Electronic music duos continue to be the order of the day as we trek across to the i Arena for a ‘Late Slot’ from Walls. We’re not exactly sure what that means (they’re on 21:45–22:30, and there’s a further three acts on this stage alone before the night’s out), but it feels like we’ve graduated from the visceral force of SBTRKT to something more chin-strokingly subtle. Their luscious, slowly cascading brand of immersive repetition is reward to a mesmerised crowd who’ve chosen to forgo a majestic headline set from Elbow (fireworks included). Even later on this same stage, jungle hero Shy FX plays to a bursting tent between the blurry, losing-grip-on-reality hours of 01:30 and 03:00. It’s all a bit vague in hindsight, but I guess that’s part and parcel–at the very least Andre Williams did his job and kept things going until the hazy, mental abyss of the early morning.
– Elbow fireworks (By Marc Sethi)
An understandably wobbly start on Sunday means we take things slow with an appearance from Reginald D Hunter over at the Comedy tent. While the content itself is funny, intelligent and original (hands up if you were expecting a string of jokes whereby ‘you middle-class white folk’ turned out to be the punchline…), Hunter looks like he’s been stirred from a comfy snooze in the passenger seat of his car (they’re on their way up to Edinburgh–Latitude is really a warm-up of sorts, he later admits). Nevertheless, it’s telling that Hunter can keep a rammed comedy tent entertained without even having to break a sweat, and it’s a great way to ease into the day.
Having allowed our faltering bodies time to regain working capacity, hotly-tipped 4AD signing Daughter is the first real music ticked off our to-do list. The i Arena is essentially as busy as it had been the previous evening, albeit with considerably less horrific violations of one’s personal space going on. By time the three-piece take to the stage, the response they receive is huge–and they seem completely taken aback by it. Undoubtedly a project about to launch to stratospheric heights, it’s telling that the majority of the audience here could already sing these songs backwards to you if you asked it of them. That said, the presence from Elena Tonra and her band is still a little timid–while the music itself is present and correct and gorgeous, the band could well do with being a little more sure of themselves. Tonra’s endearing awkwardness itself isn’t the problem–it’s when this uncertainty spills over from between-song turns on the mic into the performance itself that it starts to become arduous. Nevertheless, Daughter are at the very beginning of a pretty imminent rise to fame and acclaim, and surely within six months’ time this will be put down to nothing more than a learning curve.
Elsewhere today, M83 play a set of their sci-fi, future anthems to an adoring crowd over at The Word Arena. The band’s current live show begins with a masked anteater figure emerging from a cloud of smoke, only to fire off green lasers from its extraterrestrial fingers around the tent–so it’s saying something when the set perhaps becomes more entertaining as is progresses. Borrowing heavily from their recent release Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, the songs shone in a live setting where on record they maybe failed to hit the spot. By the time the whole adrenaline-infused dream sequence has come to a finish, the memory of it has fused in to one glorious cloud of intergalactic synths, hallucinatory vocals and soaring saxophone lines.
By time Wild Beasts take to that same stage to wrap up our Latitude 2012, we’re on our last legs. Self-confessed veterans of the festival (“I’m going to show my age a bit here and tell you that this is our fifth Latitude festival,” admits Tom Fleming), the band understandably appear quite at home. The interplay of guitar lines and intricate percussion parts come to life on stage tonight, with a setlist that includes everything necessary to keep a flagging Sunday night audience happy. ‘We Still Got The Taste Dancin’ On Our Tongues,’ ‘Hooting & Howling,’ ‘Reach A Bit Further’ and ‘Albatross’ all receive due outings, and the whole performance is as treacle-thick and as fluid as you’d hope. As we exit the stage, we get caught in a slipstream of punters heading back to the campsite after a main stage headline set from Paul Weller. And while we’re all weary and droopy and perishing in the weekend’s wake, I’d wager there’s not a person here that feels hard-done by–it’s been a sensational festival. Here’s to next year.
– Latitude 2012 (By Marc Sethi)