Live Music + Gig Reviews

Latitude @ Henham Park, Suffolk: Day 3

20 July 2008

Having been recently given a leg up by the now semi-omnipotent Danger Mouse, we half expectedcut’n’paste maestros The Shortwave Set to turn in a laptop-rocking electronica set.

Which shows exactly what we know: the threesome delivered easily the sunniest power pop of theweekend at the Sunrise Arena. With evening light dappling through the trees, they tore through arichly melodic concert Teenage Fanclub would have been proud of. Obviously, we blame someoneelse for our confusion.
Next, English roots troubadour Johnny Flynn, who had already played once over the course ofthe festival, but who stepped up to the plate again to play a set of songs and poetry in the Filmtent.

Better live than on record, the Dylanesque Leftovers and Tickle Me Pink were incredibly evocative,both old as the hills and thrillingly new, and astonishingly mature for a 25 year old.

Dystopia at Latitude? Indeed, but only that of the Midnight Juggernauts type: sweeping,synth soaked indietronica, the kind that had droves of punters zipping forward to send the forestdust and wood chip billowing around the Sunrise arena.

The Breeders didn’t really get anyone zipping anywhere. To say they sleepwalked through thisset would be an understatement of the magnitude of “Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong? Yeah,I’m so glad we signed them…”

Laid back is good. Relaxed is good, But honestly Deals, you have to do something different to whenyou soundcheck your practice area on a wet Monday morning. Even Cannonball, a stone-cold cert to beone of the tracks of the weekend just kind of happened, with few really noticing.

Ah, a greatest hits set from the universally loved Blondie: could there be a bettercrowd-pleaser? Whoever chose to put them in the smaller indoor secondary arena needs a clip roundthe ear, but even from a rainy position outside the tent the old favourites sounded terrific.

Conversation in the crowd switched quickly from pre-gig fears that Debbie Harry’s voice wouldn’t beup to much these days (unfounded) to amazement that she’s still hot as hell, despite being in herseventh decade. Most of the set was played pretty straight, but some heavy guitars and extendedrapping on Rapture and an updated electro version of Atomic raised the bar even higher thanexpected.

If Interpol were the maestros of paranoid misery closing the main stage, thenTindersticks were the grand masters of despair doing the same at the Uncut Arena. As the rainsheeted down outside, Stuart Staples’ deep baritone melted as many hearts as the weather froze, andbacked by half an orchestra, eased through the notoriously melancholy Nottingham group’s 16 yearback catalogue.

After The Breeders those of us outside the Obelisk arena had a vaguely deflating feeling.Which lasted precisely as long as it took Nick Cave to stride across stage in full-on Lizard Kingmode, and for the magnificently bearded Warren Ellis to smash his first maraca into his first cymbal.

Grinderman were exactly what we needed. Full on, raucous, sleazy, dirty and fantastic.”Here’s a new one…” said Cave, “It’s called Dream, like when you… fucking… sleep… Dream”.Outstanding.

There are very few bands who could have followed that. Tonight, headliners Interpolproved they happen to be one. As daylight was replaced by charcoal skies and the heavens openedfor the harshest shower of the weekend thesetting was as broody as Interpol could have wished for – and they revelled in it.

In these pages we predicted they were ready for amoment like this and they duly delivered. Pioneer To The Falls was as cool and as crisp as therain trickling down the back of your neck. A crystalline Not Even Jail chimed through the cold air,while proceedings took an even darker turn into No I In Threesome.

There was little talk from Paul Banks and little let up from the band as they blasted through the 90minutes. The wetter and colder it got, the more unifying it became for the crowd, to make itarguably the weekend’s most epic moment.

Interpol do absolutely nothing (that you can nail down) to make their set special. No crowdinteraction. No mass sing-a-longs. No moment where Banks hangs his microphone into the crowdand gets them to sing “HEAVEN RESTORES YOU IN LIFE!!!” back at him in a drunken fashion. And yet,through sheer weight of music and presence and, yes Goddamn it, style, it becomes somethingspecial.

There was a genuine sense that, at the climax of this wonderful and special weekend, that this wasthe moment.

And so endeth Latitude 2008. As varied and as interesting a festival experience as you’re likely to have.We loved it. We may well be back to shout at the pink sheep (not a metaphor) next year.


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