Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk, 12/7/2018...15/7/2018
published: 24 /
Latitude Festival's 13th edition packs in a fine mix of older and newer bands, and much more, including some big surprise names. Gillian Fish takes in the scene.
Latitude Festival is back at Henham Park in Suffolk for its 13th edition and this year the festival has once again curated an eclectic line-up of music, theatre, comedy food and film across the weekend.
If you ventured onto the site on the Thursday evening of this year's festival you may have stumbled upon a secret DJ set from Hollywood heavyweight Idris Elba in the Sunrise Arena. The large crowd that gathered jumped around to his set that featured everything from Mumford & Sons to Rihanna to Underworld.
Getting things off to a grungey start on Friday at the Lake Stage are US band and BBC 6 Music favourites Bodega, who are indie rock kids with plenty of tongue-in-cheek lyrics including the genius 'Jack In Titanic' which provides the fairly young crowd an unlikely singalong opportunity. Over on the main stage Britpop veterans The Charlatans provide a joyful trip down memory lane for the large crowd of mainly 30-40 somethings who singalong to every word of 'North Country Boy', 'The Only One I Know' and set closer 'Sproston Green'. There is nothing stale about The Charlatans, though, and they clearly still enjoy what they are doing.
When it comes to headline bookings for Latitude, Solange may not have been the most obvious of choices, but a few songs into the set on Friday night it made perfect sense why she had been chosen. The futuristic, understated staging featured geometric shapes including a giant white ball illuminated with varying colours throughout the show, and Solange and her band all dressed in matching white outfits.
The night visits moments from throughout her career with soul, R&B and pop all playing their part. The soulful 'Don't You Wait' to the upbeat heartbreak song 'Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work' taken from her 2012 Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) produced EP "True". Perhaps her most well-known song 'Losing You' can be considered a masterpiece of pop perfection and gets one of the biggest cheers of the night. During 'F.U.B.U.' she climbs down to perform on the barrier and if anyone was in doubt about Solange's headline credentials they only needed to see the joy on the faces of the (mostly) teenage crowd gathered in the Obelisk Arena.
Saturday sees Self Esteem, aka Slow Club's Rebecca Taylor, perform at the Sunrise Arena. Rebecca's vocals alone would be enough to stop people in their tracks but with her band, which featured two more female singers, the three-part harmonies and choreographed dancing only made for a more captivating watch. The infectious songs such as 'Your Wife' and a unique percussion sound throughout make Self Esteem an exciting prospect. New Yorkers Parquet Courts' brand of punky, garage-rock didn't quite translate on the main stage during a sunny Saturday afternoon where many punters are saving energy by parking themselves on a picnic blanket. They would have been more suited to a slot in the BBC Music tent.
Latitude announced some time ago that there would be a secret set on the BBC Music stage on Saturday evening from somebody described as "iconic" so naturally speculation about who it could be was circling in the lead up, with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Paul Simon and even the unlikely suggestion of Madonna making some of the prediction lists. It all became clear around midday on Saturday when a certain Gallagher brother took to his Twitter to declare "Lovely this time of year I hear" alongside a picture of a Welcome to Suffolk sign. The Gallagher was Liam and the BBC Music tent was packed full for his early evening surprise as he sauntered on to the stage and launched into Oasis classic 'Rock N' Roll Star' followed by 'Morning Glory'. Any scepticism about Liam's ability to perform these days without his older brother in tow was left at the tent perimeter as the audience erupted with energy. There are a few of Liam's solo tracks thrown in to the set for good measure including the singles 'Wall Of Glass' and 'For What It's Worth' but the majority is a nostalgia filled selection of Oasis hits. Perhaps it's the combination of too much afternoon sun and pints of cider but it's an incredibly emotionally charged crowd that sings every word back at Liam, many of the younger audience members hoisted onto their fellow festival-goers shoulders. Emotions are especially high when the set is closed with 'Live Forever' which seems to have added sentiment after the One Love Manchester concert last year.
The Killers are arguably the biggest draw to Latitude this year with their booking as Saturday night headliners helping to sell day tickets out in record time. More than familiar with entertaining stadium sized crowds they don't disappoint at Latitude. Brandon Flowers plays on his Vegas showman act especially on recent single and set opener 'The Man' which sees him strut across the stage while declaring "I'm the man!" just in case anyone was in doubt. If the crowd aren't warmed up enough already the band play first album stomper 'Somebody Told Me' as their second song of the night. The set continues with all the expected hits from their back catalogue including 'Read My Mind', an outstanding rendition of 'All These Things That I've Done' and 'For Reasons Unknown' where one lucky fan was invited to drum with the band. Even Mr Gallagher makes an appearance halfway through although only to share a mutual love-in with Flowers before leaving the headliners to cover Oasis B-side 'Acquiesce' without him.
Sunday is always a quieter day at Latitude with many of those with younger children, or some that have forgotten to book Monday off work, filtering out of the site gradually throughout the day. The Obelisk arena is once again carpeted with picnic blankets but away from the main stage one of Sundays highlights comes in the shape of Bristol band Idles who are returning to the BBC Music tent after playing the smaller Lake Stage last year. Their songs are politically charged and new single 'Samaritans' deals with toxic masculinity. Frontman Joe Talbot is clearly having the time of his life and shares it with a young fan as he carries the teenager around on his shoulders while singing a cover of 'All I Want For Christmas Is You'.
As the hazy evening sun is going down over the site on Sunday evening another band that have worked their way up the Latitude ranks and are now fully-fledged festival favourites, Wolf Alice, are taking to the main stage. Singer Ellie Rowsell switches between screamed vocals on songs such as 'Yuk Foo' and 'You're a Germ' and delicate, angelic like delivery on 'Don't Delete The Kisses' and 'Your Loves Whore'. First album catchy singalong 'Bros' is introduced with a tribute to the England football manager: "I love you, Gareth Southgate!", bass player Theo Ellis declares. It surely can't be too long before Wolf Alice become headliners themselves.
Latitude has the reputation for being a middle-class playground but to dismiss it would mean you miss out on everything the festival has to offer, which quite frankly is a huge amount!
Photographs by Gillian Fish