Latitude Festival looks set to earn more awards after another memorable weekend under the Suffolk sun.
Fresh from beating off some big names when it scooped the UK Festival Award for Best Major Festival, last year, the latest installment looked to push the event on to the next level – spoiler alert – it succeeded.
Based at the stunning Henham Park, Latitude presented a rich culture offering. Of course, Its music line up was nothing to be sneered at with headline performances by The Killers, Solange and Alt-J but it was wonderful to see the attention to detail across the bill.
There was top class comedy and theatre while if you really wanted to unwind you could take a boat ride along the calm waters of the festival ground’s lake.
Plus, it’s hard not to love a festival with actual pink sheep. Although, branding them up advertising BBC Introducing might have been a step too far.
On Friday night, after some trouble erecting the tent, mostly down to me being useless, we ventured through the majestic woodlands to catch Solange on the Obelisk Stage. Known to some as Beyonce’s sister (and as someone who may or may not have given Jay-Z a lesson in boxing) she’s a wonderfully talented soulful singer in her own right.
Where Beyonce puts on a huge production, her younger sibling lets her singing take centre stage with Borderline and T.O.N.Y being highlights of a well-deserved main stage set.
Elsewhere, 90s indie band James gave fans a decade-spanning show inside the BBC Music Tent. Lead Tim Booth brought his unique trademark rhythmic dancing to the packed tent to accompany hits Laid and Come Home.
Some were disappointed not to hear anthem Sit Down but experienced James fans will know they don’t always play it. In fairness, with 15 albums to their name juggling a setlist could understandably become tricky.
And, we did hear Sit Down performed live a little later that evening when some young Scottish musicians played it in a tiny sweltering tent in the early hours of Saturday morning, so all was well in the world.
A scorching Saturday started with some taking a dip in the water which is certainly a rare boast for a British festival. Those who braved the queues got to cool off with some lake swimming.
A scorching Saturday started with some taking a dip in the water which is certainly a rare boast for a British festival.
Instead, we had an ice cream and sought brief shelter inside the Music and Film Arena where cult film critic Mark Kermode was in conversation with Oscar winning director Asif Kapadia. As a bit of a film geek, my eyes filled with glee when the pair made their way on stage.
Kapadia, who won an Oscar for Amy Winehouse documentary Amy, spoke about his experiences creating that along with F1 doc Senna and previewed his latest project about hero-come-villain footballing legend Diego Maradona.
Kermode appeared several times over the Latitude weekend with queues and queues desperate to see the reviewer famous for his BBC film show with Simon Mayo. If Kermode appears at Latitude 2019 then a bigger stage might be required due to the overwhelming demand to see him.
Throughout the day, whispers of a secret set spread across the idyllic site with Madonna, Ed Sheeran and Sir Tom Jones all being rumoured. Organisers promised an iconic artist and they duly delivered with Latitude Festival’s bit of rough for the weekend, Liam Gallagher, who stormed the BBC Music Tent when the clock struck 6pm.
Organisers promised an iconic artist and they duly delivered with Latitude Festival’s bit of rough for the weekend, Liam Gallagher
‘Who were you expecting?’ The Mancunian cried with a few laughs being raised as some shouted back Noel. The former Oasis star, who is most certainly back after a rocky ride with Beady Eye, played a set which got better as it went along with it reaching its peak by the time he whaled classics from the Manc band Whatever and Live Forever.
Over at the main stage, The Vaccines, who are now four albums in, continued to campaign for major festival headlining slots with an accomplished performance as they warmed the crowd up for The Killers.
The thousands of eager fans at the Obelisk Stage were euphoric when Brandon Flowers and his Las Vegas troupe marched on for their bill-topping performance. There are few better live indie bands on the planet than The Killers and they weren’t messing around at Latitude as they treated Suffolk to a hit-packed set.
Early doors, we had youthful Hot Fuss anthem Somebody Told Me and newer number The Man ahead of the only blotch on the proceeding. Not content with making one surprise appearance at Latitude, Liam Gallagher, joined the American band on stage with many expecting a duet.
The rough and ready Gallagher said: ‘Unlike some people, proper rock ’n’ roll stars do their job and get wankered. I don’t know the words to nish, man, but thank the lord he does, so I’m just gonna say hello and leave Brandon to do his thing.’
After a warm embrace Gallagher took his exit with The Killers welcoming a fan on to the stage to drum along to For Reasons Unknown. Afterwards, Brandon introduced his band’s customary cover, on this occasion, of ‘the greatest b-side ever’.
Understandably, many expected Gallagher to return to stage. Instead, as the start of Oasis’ Acquiesce kicked in, there were many, somewhat awkward looks stage right, and with a spare mic standing lonely, Flowers powered on alone.
It was a highlight of a faultless performance from the Nevada band who are arguably sounding as good now as they ever had.
It was a highlight of a faultless performance
There was yet more sun on Latitude 2018’s final day with up-and-coming acts Idles and The Orielles once more proving why they are destined for greater prominence on festival bills in summers to come.
Black Books star Dylan Moran showed his stand up mastery with a cutting comedy set centred around ageing Donald Trump (unsurprisingly, after his UK visit) and the slightly twee, middle class sensibilities of Latitude.
Irishman Moran, who was attending the festival with his young family, said: ‘Walking through the campsite, I heard the most Latitude thing possible… “Arabella what have you done to the duck eggs?!”‘
He has a point, Latitude is a bit posh, but that shouldn’t be considered a problem whatsoever, as all were welcome to enjoy the packed programme, adventure the beautiful grounds and gaze in wonder at their pink sheep.
Words by Craig Jones