Latitude Festival 2018 – Sunshine in Suffolk:
What better way to head off to the Latitude Festival for the weekend than in a guaranteed heat wave, normally a bit of rarity in this country so it is great to be able to make the most of it.
Arriving on Friday afternoon at Latitude’s lush fields in Suffolk, the festival was already in full flow, with sun shining down and music in the air. My friend and I eagerly joined the crowds who were already gathering; depicting an eclectic mix of young and not so young, friends and families, everyone in good spirits, all ready to enjoy a perfect weekend ahead.
This was to be my second year at Latitude, so I knew the lay of the land and was able to find my way around without much problem. It’s a small festival with plenty going on, there are several music stages with a huge variety of bands playing from lots of different genres, there’s a well equipped theatre tent with racked seating, film, speakeasy and a cabaret tents, and a large comedy stage with big screens. Despite its relatively small size, it’s still easy to discover somewhere new especially if you find yourself meandering through the beautiful paths in the woods bedecked with fairy lights, huge painted flowers and plenty of places to sit and watch a live performance, have your fortune told or sink into inviting comfy leathers sofas enticing you to lounge whilst watching an impromptu performance with a cold beer from the bar.
The woods offer a constant changing landscape with a number of smaller more intimate performance tents, art work dotted around the trees, spoken word and thought provoking discussions and debates to watch or engage in.
It’s a real family affair, you can see families who have been coming for years with their children, who have now grown into gangly teenagers all hanging out together whilst their parents socialise elsewhere. Little kids are pulled around in carts adorned in fairy lights, which turn into beds when night draws in. There’s plenty to keep children entertained including a whole devoted play area with activities and workshops. For the rest of us, along with all the scheduled entertainment there’ a fantastic array of street food stalls: including the most delicious Dosas , the best and biggest freshly made sushi rolls I’ve ever tasted, fresh local crab, amazing arancini , bars of every kind including a gin bar, cocktails , fizz galore as well as the usual pub faire. Wandering around with a drink in hand you’ll come across hologram displays, huge bubbles floating through the sky of the non alcoholic kind, dancing areas plus idyllic swimming in the lake and of course the legendary parties in the woods.
I am only too aware that I now am firmly part of the ‘older generation’ but what makes Latitude so very lovely is that you never really feel like the odd one out, it’s totally inter-generational, and I can genuinely say that it is a festival for every one. So if you are feeling as if the old rocker in you needs an airing this is the perfect opportunity to get your festival gear on, perhaps even go for a bit of glitter and get on down, rest assured no one will blink an eye!
With so much on offer perhaps the hardest part is deciding what to do, We found the Latitude App really helpful. It’s easy to use and you can star all the events you want to attend and it sends you reminders before they start. But it’s also quite fun just to wander around and stumble on something quite unexpected. The big bands names tend to be on in the evening on the main stages so easy to schedule, but by day there is so much more to explore.
Music Highlights at Latitude 2018:
We managed to see a little bit of everything. But first off, we went to see Bristol born 23-year singer songwriter Rothwell in The Alcove, who I had the pleasure of interviewing after her performance.
Rothwell is a real star in the making; she has a beautifully soft yet powerful velvety voice with a great range. She is chatty and characterful on stage and managed to charm the audience with her engaging smile and honest approach to song writing in which she tells a real story. She did a great set of mostly her own songs, I particularly liked Velvet Heart, but she also did a good cover of the Spice Girls tune ‘Say You’ll Be There’.
Rothwell is bubbly, engaging and full of enthusiasm, she told me she used to come to Latitude with her family when she was younger so she was delighted to be back here, this time on stage. She doesn’t come from a musical family but she has been passionate about music since she was child, all singing and dancing until she went on to study music at university in Leeds for a couple of years but the industry called and she left planning to return but never has to date as her career is really started to take off and she is now based in London.
She talks passionately about her music and explained to me that when she writes has she always comes with a story to tell. She says singers Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald and Julie London as well as Paul Simon have had a huge influence on her. She has played a couple of dates on Justin Beiber’s support tour and more recently her big claim to fame is that her song was played on the very popular show Love Island, during the high octane drama when the show casanova Adam was breaking a few hearts – definitely something to be proud of!
Rothwell’s new single is out in August and she’s presently working on her new album.
So keep eyes and ears peeled Rothwell is definitely one to watch.
The Vaccines are well established upbeat indie garage rock band with a distinctly punky feel, formed in West London in 2010 by charismatic front man Justin Hayward-Young.
They played on the Obelisk Stage, supporting the Killers, but in my opinion were far the superior band of the evening. The buzz was palpable and the crowds were all behind their wonderfully energetic performance, and their songs, many of which epitomise classic teenage angst. Single “I Can’t Quit” went down a storm and had the crowd rocking to the rafters along with “Put It On a T-shirt” which was also met with adoration from the crowd.
Captivating front man Justin had the audience in the palm of his hand and the band didn’t t fail to delight crowds of all ages with a good mix of new and old songs and their seamless performance.
Liam Gallagher made as surprise appearance on the BBC Music Stage; we were walking along when we noticed people running towards the tent. Curiosity led us to follow and we managed to get in to the tent only to see Liam in his trademark parka swaggering across the stage. Great excitement all around especially for all of us old Oasis fans, mind you it was a cross generational audience and the teenagers seemed equally enamored! The phones were all up in air, and I suspect it was broadcast on social media within minutes.
There is something legendary about Liam no matter how badly he behaves he does ooze charisma and deliver the goods. He performed a mixed set of old and new but as you would expect the tent erupted with his final renditions of ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’, ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Live Forever’.
First thing Sunday morning we made our way to the Lake Stage, which proved to be the perfect setting for a real musical treat. House Choir is a group of incredible singers who mix gospel, hip-hop and a bit of jazz funk to create a wonderful uplifting sound.
They delivered an energetic vibrant set, which whipped up the crowd with their upbeat rhythms and had everyone clapping and dancing, it was extraordinary to see such a mixed audience of all ages stirred to dance and get on down so early in the day.
Sadler’s Wells: ZooNation (Sylvia)
Sylvia – An Old Vic, Sadler’s Wells and ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company production, co-commissioned by 14-18 NOW.
The Waterfront Stage is in an idyllic location, which draws in the crowds as they enter the festival or cross over the lake.
British hip-hop dance company ZooNation performed this fabulous production of Sylvia, which is a modern musical celebrating the life of Sylvia Pankhurst, her pivotal role in the campaign for women’s rights and the price of the passion and politics that tore her family apart.
This powerful Suffragette narrative cleverly combines R&B, hip Hop, funk and musical theatre. Performed by and a highly accomplished cast of five woman in period costume and three men in top hats, who used their rousing voices, slick dance moves and wonderful energy to tell their story.
Sylvia is playing at the Young Vic this autumn so they well worth checking out.
Lyric Hammersmith, Young Company – How to Fail at Being Perfect
Performed in the Theatre Arena by a company of young actors this charming and cleverly put together musical, presents a modern day interpretation of Peter Pan highlighting the desire for eternal youth, and witnessing a world run by children.
It was a poignant reminder to stop the everyday grind of work, sleep, work and take to stock and live in the moment. Prompting us all to enjoy our children and the child in us all.
There were definitely a few with bright new stars in the making.
It’s great to see a vibrant young company at Latitude, performing with confidence and style an exciting new musical, what an amazing experience for them all.
Hightide Theatre presents: Deserts by Sam Steiner
Deserts is a new short play produced by Hightide Theatre and written by Sam Steiner, who previously wrote Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons which debuted at the Warwick Arts Centre in January 2015, then went to the National Student Drama Festival, Latitude Festival and completed a sold out run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015.
Deserts is a quirky, black comedy which tells the story of a first sexual encounter, performed eloquently by actors Sion Alun Davies and Sarah Ridgeway. The couple experience the synergy of two bodies becoming one whilst simultaneously witnessing a brutal act of violence on the television that goes on to live in their memories forever.
Is it true that everyone always remembers his or her first time?
Pop Music by Anna Jordan
Pop Music has to be one of my biggest highlights at Latitude this year. A new piece written by Anna Jordan and co-produced by Paines Plough and Birmingham Rep.
Two guests and ex school mates in their mid thirties arrive at a wedding reception with their own stories to tell, they reconnect though music and the dance floor, replaying familiar tracks from their youth, with poetry and rap delivered through microphones.
We are introduced to G a 35-year-old man who has been in love but won’t risk it again and Kayla who once was queen bee, but has lost her confidence along the way. We discover the lives they have led since leaving school, weaving a narrative of love and loss as we find out the damage one has done unwittingly to the other.
This is an engaging take of two damaged souls set to the backdrop of many of our favourite pop tunes including Chaka Khan, The Spice Girls, All Saints, Beyonce, Oasis.
Katherine Kotz gave a convincing portrayal as a hard unfulfilled alcoholic, whilst Rakesh Boury played G with enormous charm and candor along with some impressive dance moves and rapping into the bargain.
A third a third actor signed the whole performance. He was cleverly incorporated into the show and brought with him an added dimension, and a real wit and charm.
Pop Music is a powerful reminder of the fragility of childhood and the detrimental affects of playground bullying.
However it ended on one of my favourite songs, Come on Eileen by Dexys, which made the perfect finale. James Grieve’s production has an affecting message, but it also has such warmth and spirit that we left with a glow sticks in hand and smiles on our faces.
Our smiles continued as we wandered through the festival to see our final performance before having to return to London, and what a performance it was and the most perfect way to end our perfect weekend, Rag n Bone Man in all his glory sung with the grace and magnitude of a superstar. His powerful yet melodic sound is completely unique and he had the crowds in the cradle of his hand as he treated us to a magnificent performance with the sun setting to the right of the stage and the sounds and splendor of Latitude leaving us all with a happy glow of contentment and vowing to return next year.
Latitude 2019 will take place from 18th-21st July 2019 in Henham Park, Suffolk. Tickets will go on sale soon and will be available through the festival site