Live Review

Latitude 2008

Phill Jupitus may later refer to it as ‘like being stuck in a lift with 20,000 people’, but in reality Sigur Rós have Latitude enchanted and placed firmly in their back pocket.

It’s hard to imagine that Latitude has only been around for three years. Yes, it’s one of those ‘boutique’ festivals, but honestly that’s just shorthand for ‘more than just music and with a decent line up’ these days. While the bigger festivals end up with stadium rock and irrelevant comebacks, a fraction of the audience get a line up of almost perfect proportions, plus a lot more.

Franz Ferdinand headline Friday night

So, amongst the RSC, Bush Theater and Radio 4 you find the odd musical gem. Though some may stick to the comedy tent until mid afternoon (note to the organisers; it’s still too small!), those up and at ‘em for 11am on Friday are treated to a performance of some promise by Godwits. A violin and a trumpet aren’t exactly rare instruments to find at this festival, but there’s a certain something about the combination that lends strength to the message board murmuring that have got louder as the last few months have passed.

There’s been more than enough said about Golden Silvers since winning the new bands comp to play at this year’s Glasto. Here they’re playing to a fairly small crowd, most of whom seem to be munching on their lunch at the time. Pleasant harmonies go down well, but in reality it’s not quite connecting with their audience; something that couldn’t be leveled at Johnny Foreigner. Gusts of wind may be blowing sound from the humbly proportioned Lake Stage all over the place, but up close and personal there’s a disarming charm to Birmingham’s finest, happily chatting to the crowd in-between songs.

Where the big bands are concerned, it’s an odd concern to find Franz Ferdinand the biggest unknown of the weekend. Comments about Afrobeat have many expecting something quite radical, but instead we’re treated to a greatest hits set with the old new song thrown in - the common theme; Nick McCarthy on synths. In truth they go down well, though not quite as well as Sigur Rós.

Phil Jupitus may later refer to it as ‘like being stuck in a lift with 20,000 people’, but in reality Saturday’s headliners have Latitude enchanted and placed firmly in their back. With everything from marching bands to snow machines, via the kitchen sink, there may be no mass singalongs, but there is a genuine feeling of awe.

Elsewhere Elbow pleased many, but in truth didn’t quite reach the heights of their own tour earlier this year. A bum note to kick of ‘Newborn’ provides the laughs, but it’s clear that much of the crowd is here just for them - a true step up for the Mancunians that should see them stepping up the bills elsewhere. Death Cab For Cutie are typically brilliant, especially when ‘Soul Meets Body’ finally has the crowd realising who they’re watching, while Joanna Newsom doesn’t get much stick for fluffing her lines during a hangover soothing midday set. Truly, Latitude is the ‘nice’ festival.

Photos: Jon Appleyard

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