I was sitting outside a tent listening to Carol Ann Duffy reading poems when Ross Noble ran past, pursued by a few hundred people. He was wearing an expression of delight and seemed to be doing a lap of honour after his comedy show. The scene felt somehow typical of this festival's good natured zest. I arrived at the Latitude Festival yesterday and it's been working its magic on me since I got over a strop at having brought too few tent pegs.
Latitude is only in its third year, but positive reports mean that it feels much more established than that. A fraction of the size of Glastonbury and benefiting from a beautiful Suffolk setting, the atmosphere is very relaxed and the line-up impressive. By the end of Friday my impression was of a terrific playlist/reading list put together by a knowledgeable friend.
In the early evening I happened upon Clinic playing in the woods, wearing their trademark surgical masks. They performed an edgy, energetic set and left the crowd wanting more. This is one of the incidental benefits of festivals - not having to go through the elaborate ritual of encores. The limited time seems to focus the bands and if you really hate someone you know roughly when they are going to be over.
My two highlights so far were a pair of bands I'd never before listened to. Errors are a skilfully demented combination of electronic sounds, guitar and drums. They don't have a vocalist, but one of their number fired wry observations into the audience between tracks. What they were doing felt very fresh and I'm going in search of their debut album, It's Not Something, But It Is Like Whatever, when I'm back in the real world. The other act that really got my blood pumping were Amadou and Mariam, who play a brand of Malian blues, combining that sound with influences from around the globe. Their set was perhaps the best live music performance I've been to this year - an explosion of musicianship ad charisma. Unfortunately I missed the beginning of their set because I stopped by to watch Franz Ferdinand perform. FF are always worth seeing live (although you really know what you're getting - there's not that much variation from what's in the records and hardly any banter) and I spotted my first ever pre-teen crowd surfer. How very Latitude. We filmed with Franz Ferdinand earlier in the year while they were recording their forthcoming album and we'll have that item in the next run of The Culture Show.