Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Latitude Day Two

After a lay about in a hot tent, sunshine bringing the enclosed space to furnace temperatures, it is time to wander through the gorgeous site and watch some acts. The comedy tent is full, the outside of the comedy tent is full, so there's no point trying to wait around for Tim Minchin, leading to a reroute to the Cabaret tent for 'Learn To Play The Ukulele In Under An Hour (How George Formby Saved My Life)'. Sam and Donal tell a good tale, although the jokes sometimes fall flat. Their depression led them to a visit to a George Formby Society convention, and an attempt to bring it down. A bizarre start to anybody's day.

The first musical interlude of the day comes in the form of the majestic Wild Beasts, whose ghostly wails haunt the Uncut Arena. Hayden Thorpe has 'that' voice, transforming from falsetto to growl to falsetto from moment to moment. Brilliant guitar work gives an eerie aura to the tent, and an early highlight to the day.

Poetry, the often derided younger brother of literature, is further insulted through Teen Angst, a half hour of really bad poetry. Of course, this is all part of the ruse, as it celebrates the awful emo tinged nonsense we write as teenagers about parents and girls and sex and so on. The audience giggles with communal embarrassment at obvious rhymes and immature feelings, an act as funny as the best comedians.

Speaking of good comedians, the next few hours are spent in the Comedy Tent, managing to get under the canvas just before another torrential downpour, firstly in the company of Jeremy Hardy. His largely political set draws on his socialist past, fatherhood and general Daily Mail baiting. The jokes are good, but sometimes it feels a little too much like a lecture from a clearly passionate man.

Miles Jupp, best known as Archie the Inventor in Balamory, performs a brilliant set, playing a self parodying arrogant toff. A great joke about being mugged, but having all his money tied up in land, works particularly well in its context. As brilliant as he is, it is as funny as cancer compared to what comes next. Rich Hall tells a few entertaining stories, going nowhere (like the queues for the shuttle bus the day before), but ramps it up with some crowd interaction. When a couple tries to leave, he hectors them until the girl stays. With the boyfriend leaving, Hall's improvisation just grows and grows until all too soon he finishes.

Eventually we go back to the music, starting with some Elbow. Guy Garvey and his friends are quickly turning into (for some, have been for a very long time) THE festival band. Mixing up material from all the albums, with an obvious focus on the Mercury nominated new 'un. 'Newborn' is as devastating and emotional as ever, Garvey's voice cracking in the intro. A poised 'The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver' is full of grandeur and a highlight of the set. The only downpoint is that the sparkling between song chat is missing.

We pop our heads into the Mars Volta tent, saxophone, keyboards and guitars creating the swirling density of the records. The riffs are there, and it looks worth watching, but the choice has been made. Sigur Ros have been picked out of the line up instead. Sorry Cheek Cheeky and the Nosebleeds, not you this time.

Opening with 'Svefn-G-Englar' the mood is set. The sound is near crystal perfect, with Jón “Jónsi” Þór Birgisson's voice ethereal and angelic, tears brought to eyes. The staging is great, giant lampshades hang from the rafters as a marching band join in part way through, a trio of trombones amongst them. Sigur Ros produced the set of the weekend, mixing hits old and young, and pleasing all the middle class families by playing the one they know (Hoppipolla).

After popping our collective heads back into the Mars Volta and viewing a rattling crescendo followed by a weed request, off to Cabaret yet again, where Elephant Man Elvis is exactly what you'd expect (one joke, not very funny), and Miss Cherry White, a vertically challenged tap dancer, is pretty darn good. But the bed/uncomfortable sleeping bag is calling our names, and homeward we go, after a few jigs outside the Disco Shed.

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