Glorious blue skies welcomed us to Latitude this Sunday as we collected our day tickets to the festival. Having been to the event most years since it began in 2006, I think this is the hottest weekend I can remember.
Beginning our day in the shade of the woods where art installations, the Sunrise Arena and the Lavish Big Screen drew our attention, we wandered through the trees enjoying the visual delights as well as listening to the sounds from the stages working their way towards us.
After a stroll across the bridge taking in the classic Latitude sign, pink sheep and the new edition of the Fat Face store (where festival t-shirts were being snapped up for a fiver on the last day – bargain mementos!), we headed to the Comedy tent for a pint and a sit down.
Catching the beginning of Mark Watson’s set, the self-deprecating comedian had brought along his little boy to watch as he did the Sunday lunchtime slot. Not the easiest of tasks when people are extremely hung-over from three nights of partying, sleeping in tents, not-showering properly and eating a random selection of festival food. Despite this he made the crowd roar with laughter, keeping the tent full till the end.
Next up was Stuart Goldsmith, an observational comic who regaled us about life as a parent and how his partner had a ‘tactical baby’ to end their long-distance relationship. Running a podcast called ‘The Comedian’s Comedian’, his set certainly prompted me to make a mental note to check it out on iTunes.
Daniel Sloss, a young comedian from Scotland, came onto the stage next with a confident, and at times, controversial set. Telling a joke that caused the majority of an audience in Indianapolis to walk out, his style of comedy fared much better at liberal Latitude. With a style that was half Russell Howard and half Frankie Boyle, my friend and I agreed we should go and watch one of his full gigs.
Unfortunately missing the special guest appearance from Ed Sheeran with Foy Vance in the BBC6 Music Tent, we had a text too late from a friend and he’d already left the stage by the time we managed to run over.
Heading over to the Obelisk Arena we caught the tail end of the melodic tunes from Michael Kiwanuka before Laura Mvula arrived for a very summery Sunday set. Her soulful voice and soaring sound from her band (that included her sister and brother) was just what any festival needs come the Sunday afternoon. Her inspiring lyrics often focus on female empowerment and independence, and her stage presence is bold, wonderful and far from revealing the anxiety that reportedly often cripples her. Her hit ‘Green Garden’ was the ideal festival song, upbeat and ready to get your body swaying in the heat; the crowd loved it.
Ending her set with ‘Phenomenal Woman’, her joy at singing the lyrics, ‘Oh my my, oh my, she flies’ was palatable, the music jumping off the stage making you want to put your hands in the air along with her.
After she had left the stage we headed to get some food before watching Bill Bailey. One of the great things about Latitude is the wide variety of food stalls, from Mexican to Spanish, classic British to Indian, all styles of cuisine are on sale, including lots of vegetarian and vegan stands (a fact that the comedians like to pick up on every year – for example Ross Noble’s famous conga to the vegan stall to shout ‘sausage rolls’ in 2008).
This year the Blixen Restaurant, from London’s Old Spitalfield’s Market returned for a unique dining experience at the festival. With rotating menus full of fresh, modern and clean flavours with a slice of indulgence, the area then turns into an arena for DJs in the evening.
Bill Bailey headlined the comedy tent this year, which was packed full to the rafters, everyone needing to stand in the usually seated tent. A talented musician and comedian, his set was topical, discussing his annoyance with the Brexit vote, the current political disarray and, of course, going off on random tangents with songs that make you giggle uncontrollably. Finishing the gig playing classic rock tunes on cowbells, Bailey is as eccentric and brilliant as usual.
Taking the opportunity to explore more of the site, we wandered through the Faraway Forest to catch some theatre and view the art installations. We also visited the SOLAS area, a woodland escape, much needed on a Sunday, focusing on healing, yoga and relaxation with slow-mo visuals, folk and electronic musicians and a variety of workshops.
Obelisk Arena headliner’s New Order closed the festival with a part nostalgic, part contemporary act. Beginning with tracks from their new album, ‘Music Complete,’ the night really got into the swing of things with classics ‘True Faith’ and ‘Temptation.’ The encore of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ brought the crowd together to remember where it all began, with Ian, Joy Division and Manchester.
Until next year Latitude!