Live Music + Gig Reviews

Latitude @ Henham Park, Suffolk: Day 1

17 July 2008


Every festival needs its Winehouse moment. For Latitude it was delivered courtesy of JulianCope.

Arriving on stage very, very late he launched into three amazing motorik wig-outs,including an inspired version of The Teardrop Explodes‘ Sleeping Gas.

Then, proving that hard drugs and messianic self-belief are a risky combination, he imploded before our very eyes.
He spent the next 20 minutes declaring himself to be unique tohis generation, ‘sacrificing’ a guitar to three major gods (nearly blinding a child in the front rowin the process), quoting William Blake, breaking his novelty mic-stand in two, repeatedly promisingto play Pristeen and “do it fucking justice” and then being booted off the stage for running overbefore another note could be played. Genius.

The Lake Stage isn’t, surprisingly, on the lake. It’s in the main arena, whilst the stage on thelake is, you guessed it, the On the Lake Stage. Conundrum solved, it’s here we find JamesYuill with his mixer, Macbook and acoustic guitar.

Normally people carrying these items together send us running in the other direction, butYuill manages to hold us steady, nodding to dreamy melancholia, smiling to warm melodies anddancing to uplifting electro.

Bursting with all the exuberance of a Ritalin-deficient clown in the family camping area, TheGo! Team were just about the most fun you could have at the main stage this year. Front womanNinja led a bemused audience through a barnstorming set of rock, pop, funk and everything inbetween.

Ian Parton’s motley crew are certainly getting the hang of this festival lark – musicOMH saw a pretty terrifiedperformance at 2006’s V Festival, where the band were clearly overawed by the space – while now the likes of Bottle Rocket, Ladyflash and Do It Alright were as ebullient as the sun beginning to break through the crowds.

Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be getting any of that cheerfulness from earnest OC botherers Death Cab For Cutie, who are, it seems, a serious band. Drawing heavily from their new record Death Cab managed to be both excellentand dull as ditchwater at the same time.

It’s patently obvious that DCFC are a formidable proposition when they crank up the extended jams, but it can’t be described as fun. Eventually, there’s some respite with the poppy Soul Meets Body and Crooked Teeth, but we were left with the distinct impression that this is a band with a wealth of talent but a lack of focus.

Ah, Crystal Castles. Given the amount of time we’ve spent banging on about them live this year wewon’t dwell on this set too much, but suffice to say, for the time being the riot continues. Veer tothe far right of the Sunrise arena and could see the stage. Stand at the back, a couple of yardsoutside and you could as well. Stand anywhere else and it’s pot luck, as a scrum of people dance andclimb over each other to get something resembling a view. It’s ace, dangerous, and leaves youwanting more.

For those who really, really, really didn’t wanna, Amadou and Miriam – the so-called ‘blindcouple from Mali’ – give the Vampire Weekend-like interlopers a taste of the true spirit ofthe (African? – ed.) continent with a festival-stopping set in the Uncut arena. After being led gently onstage bythe rest of the band, the married couple launch into the kind of spectacular poppy Afro-bluesknees-up that you’d expect in some kind of louche Parisian dive bar during the 1970s.

“Now that’s how you headline!” we heard someone exclaim during Franz Ferdinand‘s set. True,but perhaps their performance wasn’t quite how you headline this particular festival. There wasnever any doubt that they’d be damn good: a set drawn from two albums where every track could be asingle couldn’t ever really fail. Even the new stuff was top class. But with the super-slickprofessionalism, the familiar sing-alongs, and even the rain starting to fall across the floodlitstage, it felt more like Reading or Glastonbury than Latitude. Not much edge, but hey, you stillgotta love the Franz.

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