Friday provides an impressive start to Latitiude

Latitude 2009 review

published: Tue 28th Jul 2009

Bat For Lashes

Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th July 2009
Henham Park Estate, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 8AN, England MAP
weekend ticket £150 - SOLD OUT, day tickets are priced at £60
last updated: Mon 13th Jul 2009

Latitude, one of the highlights of my festival calendar showed that in 2009, the quality of the festival and its appeal have no plans of subsiding. Whilst the initial line-up seemed to myself (maybe not others), as a bit of disappointment, it gradually improved through time as the festival neared with excellent bookings including a huge coup in attracting Thom Yorke, the Radiohead frontman and certainly one of the most important songwriters of this generation for their prestigious midday slot on the Sunday. That was for Sunday though and with two days of quality music and comedy ahead, it was time to check out the site and see what was new for 2009.

around the festival site (4)
A walk into the beautiful lake surrounded main arena and you're transported into a magical world, full of multi-coloured sheep, gondola rides and outdoor woodland art galleries. Latitude is certainly a unique experience. Known as a middle class festival, it attracts families just as much as it does the regular festival goer, so the atmosphere is generally one of warmth and politeness.

The site is made up of many attractions. There is a cabaret area, known as Pandora's playground, housing a main Cabaret Tent; a 1950's dancing school, a 50's style café and a one man theatre show amongst other things. There are various stages including the sunrise arena, based in the woods, the Poetry Arena, a Film and Music Arena, The Uncut Arena (essentially the 2nd stage) and the Obelisk Arena (Main Stage), amongst others. The comedy tent is one of the main attractions and provided names this year as high profile as Jo Brand, Ed Byrne, Sean Hughes and Tim Vine just to name a few. Friday morning, this was my base and after a sufficient amount of laughter, it was time to move out, catch some sun and a dose of much needed music.

The Mummers were first up for myself. The Brighton band have a startling new album that is so grandiose and impressively huge sounding that it was hard to see how it could be re-captured live. They managed to do this however, with a vast array of strings and percussion instruments on show that would leave a marching band green eyed. It's an impressive start to a festival.

Ladyhawke
Ladyhawke played early afternoon on the Obelisk Arena to a huge audience - her crowd pleasing indie-pop clearly a winner with the public. 'Paris is Burning' a particular highlight and finishing to a rousing reception with 'My Delerium'. It's a pleasant enough set and the crowd certainly seemed taken by her but I was left wondering where the real spark is. Don't get me wrong, she's certainly a crowd pleaser, but I just don't quite get why...

Playing on Friday evening on the Obelisk Arena is an in-form and clearly happy Regina Spektor. She merrily ploughs through a list of her classic songs with a big smile on her face as well as bringing in some new ones from recent album 'Far'. 'Folding Chair' raises the roof and 'Laughing With' is greeted with a roar that re-affirms that her new music can stand up to some of her older material. It's an impressive set and throwing in old and new means that she certainly pleases her faithful fans who are here in numbers as well as new ones who might be seduced by her recent, more accessible, major label sound.

Bat For Lashes
Natasha Khan aka Bat for Lashes completes the days music in the Uncut Arena. The huge blue tent is a perfect setting for someone who relies so much on lighting and clarity of sound and she doesn't disappoint. Although clashing with Eighties legends Pet Shop Boys, Khan draws a huge crowd, who pack the tent and beyond to hear her startle with a mix of songs from recent album Two Suns and the mercury nominated debut, 'Fur and Gold'. Following on from her impressive set at Glastonbury, just a few weeks previous, she is on fantastic form and really gives the crowd a performance to savour. 'Pearls Dream' and 'Sleep Alone' are excellent songs in their own right and they really wow the crowd with their upbeat tempo and fantasy inspired lyrics. However, it is 'What's A Girl To Do', which she introduces as 'A Song To Dance To...' and closer 'Daniel' that really set the pulses racing. This is the real deal and Bat for Lashes on this kind of form and producing this kind of music, is going to be very special indeed.

And so, it came for me to wander back to the tent, via a few parties going on through the night and catch some rest for whatever Saturday was to throw at me...
review by: Joe Mercer

photos by: Chris Mathews

Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th July 2009
Henham Park Estate, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 8AN, England MAP
weekend ticket £150 - SOLD OUT, day tickets are priced at £60
last updated: Mon 13th Jul 2009


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