Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Latitude Day One

Somebody, this weekend, referred to the festival as Glastitude.

This writer has never been to Glastonbury, but Latitude definitely seemed to match the mythical heights of Worthy Farm at its best. Over a weekend where the weather changed faster than, well, the weather changes in the British summer time, bands played, comedians talked, poets read, plays were acted, the Disco Shed was danced by.

Latitude has the tagline 'more than just a music festival'. As a result, music was not the sole focus, and the comedian Robin Ince was the first act watched. Referencing astronomers, the Daily Mail, elk, and US foreign policy sum up to a fine show, peal upon peal of laughter wreathing the (far too small) comedy tent.

Bellies ache on a short trek through the woods that lead to the Sunrise Arena, and Broken Records, who conjure the much missed spirit of Hope of the States, their guitars and violin duelling, epic noises echoing around. The hype surrounding them seems justified, already sounding fully formed. Slow Club quickly follow, the boy girl duo charming the crowd with their earnest enthusiasm and Tilly and the Wall esque melodies.

After spotting a man wearing an 'I Hate Hats' hat Bearsuit appear, be-caped and noisy, a splurge of bleeps from their keyboards, and guitar up a little too high. Their twee melodies win through, however, largely playing hits from last record 'Oh:io'. And somebody bought a panda costume for the occasion. What a joker.

One of the biggest names in tangental comedy appears- Ross Noble. Comedian, or performer. Difficult to tell today, as the punchlines involve handing Red Bull to the audience before leading a sing along of Bohemian Rhasody. How “random”. This is all rescued by the conga line/stampede. Noble, followed by a thousand others ran round the site before pitching up at the veggie food stand, with the comedian carried aloft by his devoted followers, looking like a portly Jesus. A lot of fun, but funny?

Black Kids attempt to get the party started, but their lack of material outside the singles gives more kudos to the thought that they were rushed to the big time to cash the big hype cheque. Up the hill at the Obelisk Arena, and the tail of British Sea Power's set fails to set the world alight, ending, as is tradition on 'Rock In A', 10 minutes of noise and larking about.

The tempo, the energy, the sweat level; all are raised by Johnny Foreigner's set of vim and vigour. Alexei combines rapid fire spindles of guitar with screams and shouts, as the crowd jump around, charmed by the band's sincerity and brilliance.

The Go! Team act like Ronseal, do what they say on the tin and get the crowd into the Friday feeling. Ninja should release some kind of exercise tape for indie kids, she burns that many calories. Like true crowd pleasers they play Ladyflash so everyone can go home happy. Crystal Castles carry on the theme, but with 60% more bleeps, covering the woods in layers of screams and synths. In darkness it would have worked perfectly.

And so, on to the headliners, Franz Ferdinand. Opening with 'Michael' they remind the forgetful just how many good songs they have, in a slick set scattered with new songs. 'Take Me Out' and 'Matinee' get a look in too, but, there is something lacking. For one, the band don't look to bothered to be playing, nor bothered who is watching them in the persistent rain. There is none of the passion that almost all the other bands that played seemed to have. It was a wasted opportunity. The Scots shortcomings are quickly made up for by the Fellows comedy toff rap in the Cabaret tent to leave the day on a high. “What ho” indeed.

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