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Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Latitude revels in being a festival that does things a bit different. It’s perhaps the place you can see an indie-punk band followed by a classical ballet followed by a talk by a Booker winning author followed by a burlesque show — all in the space of one afternoon.
That’s why 35,000 people will again descend on Henham Park for the four-day festival next weekend.
While its true that Latitude is more easygoing, more laidback and more eclectically diverse in its offerings, its also undeniable that its still the music that gets people most excited.
Some people claim to have attended but to have not seen a single band, usually said as a sort of boast meant to make you seem a pleb for preferring Metronomy to the National Theatre.
While I imagine its perfectly possible to have a wonderful, stimulating and relaxing weekend without ever venturing to any of the four music stages — The Obelisk, The Word Arena, The i Satge and The Lake Stage — you’d only having half the fun.
Certainly anyone culturally boycotting the music would be missing out, even if this year’s choice of headliners — Bon Iver, Elbow and Paul Weller — is a bit of mixed bag.
Of the three, Elbow, who headline the main Obelisk Arena on Saturday night, seem the most naturally suited to Latitude — indeed they’ve appeared before and many would probably be happy if they popped up every year.
Headlining Friday night, double Grammy Award winning Bon Iver, formed in 2007 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, have enjoyed success of their second, self-titled album and the alt-folkies would seem a good fit for Latitude where many will probably own it.
Paul Weller, who brings proceedings to a close on Sunday night, needs no introduction through they’ve been mixed reactions to his headline appearance. Quite why isn’t clear and he as The Modfather huge back catalogue to draw on and is on something of a creative roll at the moment. His latest Sonik Kicks album bristles with eclectic experimentation, taking in Krautrock, dub reggae and Bowie-esque blue-eyed soul. Whatever your views of those three, as ever there are plenty of treats to be found further down the bill. Indeed by luck, chance or — more likely — months of good planning, the festival a gathering of the most interesting, exciting and fascinating non-mainstream artists around at the moment.
If you’d have asked the average Latitude-goer to draw up their ideal line-up, I’m pretty sure many of the bands set to appear would have been on it. That said there is just enough to challenge the audience’s musical horizons too.
All three headliners have strong immediate support with Metronomy on before Bon Iver, Laura Marling (a Latitude darling if ever there was one) preceding Elbow and Ben Howard warming up for Mr Weller.
There will also strong sets from Richard Hawley (Sat, Obelisk), riding on the back of his excellent new album and who you can expect to join Elbow for The Fix; and Bat For Lashes — aka Natasha Khan — who is about to release her much anticipated third album The Haunted Man.
Other bigger names to watch for include Lana Del Ray (Fri, Word), who really does divide opinion, Janelle Monae (Fri, Obelisk), who always puts on a good show, the revived Dexys (Fri, Word) and Simple Minds (Sun, Obelisk).
Elsewhere you can take your pick from artists as diverse as White Lies (Fri, Word), who return for a headline slot having gone down a storm lower down the bill; The Horrors (Sat, Word); and heavily hyped soul-infused singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka (Sat, Obelisk).
There’s also a smattering of bands registering a 10 on the style-bible cool-o-meter, including Yeasayer (Fri, Word), masked dubstep master SBTRKT (Sat, Word), Django Django (Sat, i Arena) and Battles (Sun, Word).
There will be more international sounds courtesy of irrepressible African dup Amadou & Mariam (Fri, Obelisk) and Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club (Sun, Word), featuring Omara Portuondo, who revive 1940s Cuba.
Others to look out for include Wild Beasts (Sun, Word) who have a strong following, Alabama Shakes (Sun, Obelisk), Baxter Dury (Sat, Obelisk) and folk-blues duo the Smoke Fairies (Sat, Word).
One to make sure you catch is classical superstar Lang Lang who is to playing his ever first outdoor festival at Latitude. The Chinese-born concert pianist has played sell-out performances around the world and recently played for President Obama at the White House.
He will appear on the Waterfront stage shortly before Sunday lunchtime and will provide a very hang-over friendly introduction to the final day. That will be followed by the now famous Sunday 1pm slot this year being filled by Rufus Wainwright and his band.
The Lake Stage will again be a hub of new music stars all hand picked by Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens, and featuring a plethora of upcoming and local acts. Some of the more established acts gracing the stage will include Los Campesinos! (Sat) and Sheffield indie outfit The Crookes (Sat) but there is a huge range of bands and musical styles on show. If you want to see who’ll be appearing on big stages in years to come, this beautiful lakeside setting is the place to be.