Latitude 2006: Friday
By Andrew Woodger
Snow Patrol, The Zutons and The Lemonheads played to a packed main tent in the first day of the first ever Latitude Festival in Suffolk. The weather gods were smiling on Henham Park near Southwold, although all the acts appear in a variety of tents.
Having visited the Rous family's Henham estate for the press preview a couple of months ago, the first thing that struck me was how much work and effort actually goes into making a festival happen.
The Mean Fiddler obviously have vast experience at putting festivals on, but Latitude seems to have lots of extra little touches. We were treated to a new bridge across the lake, multi-coloured dyed sheep (real ones!), a plethora of picnic tables, flags, night time lighting and, of course, the collection of tents ranging in size from the small one for poetry to the big top for the main acts which looked like it could hold around 5,000 people.
Those multi-coloured sheep
The toilets (usually the most horrific thing about a festival) seemed to be holding out, but I wondered why they didn't have separate urinals for men, which would have halved the queues for the loos.
There's the usual variety of food stalls catering for veggies as well as carnivores, and the bars didn't have any irritating token-system and service was pretty swift.
In fact the whole thing didn't feel as blatantly commercial as, say, the Isle Of Wight which I went to in 2005. Security seemed pretty relaxed and I didn't spot a policeman all day.
All in all it's a dashed civilised affair attracting a lot of families. Many small children were in evidence on their parents' shoulders bopping along to Snow Patrol at the close of play.
There are nine tented arenas covering comedy, music, theatre, literature and cabaret so it's impossible to see everything.
I started off at the comedy tent with Dan Antopolski who treated us to a set of tongue-in-cheek intellectual sweary patter - some of it missing, but most of it hitting.
I then concentrated on the main Obelisk Arena. Vega 4 kicked things off. They're spoken highly of by Snow Patrol and they seem to be going for the same sound. The crowd hadn't really arrived in force yet - so they played to around 500 people.
Norwich band Cord seemed to have a strong level of support with them - but their brand of indie guitar rock didn't particularly excite me. They made the amusing error of saying how great it was to be playing a festival in Norfolk, before realising that they were south of the border.
Stephen Fretwell didn't play his big hit 'Emily', but he's clearly got a lot more to him than writing a simple love song.
The Pipettes in matching cardie mode
I made a detour to the Uncut tent to watch The Pipettes who seem to be causing quite a stir ahead of the release of their debut album. They're three sexy and sassy young ladies attempting to revive the classic 60s girl group in their polka dresses and dance moves. Highly entertaining and probably leaving most of the chaps in the audience dreaming wistfully after singing their slap-in-the-face ditty "One Night Stand." Could be the antidote to the Pussycat/Girls Aloud brand of girl groups? Certainly enough to brighten a summer's day even further!
The night was rounded off by three great performances in the Big Top. The Lemonheads played a string of their early-90s faves such as 'It's A Shame About Ray' with their newer stuff and they're clearly held in a lot of affection.
The Zutons star continues to rise with their second album. They seem to be everywhere at the moment, but thankfully they were here as well. Their pop songs such as 'Why Won't You Give Me Your Love' and 'Valerie' had the audience eating out their hands. Their energy, and of course Abi's short dress, created a great atmosphere, but it tailed off a bit with the instrumental jazz odyssey they closed their show with.
The Zutons appearance seemed to limit the interest in Scritti Politti who was close to finishing as I wandered through a sparsely populated Uncut tent on the way to the loos. The now-bearded Green was indeed wearing a green jacket, but didn't seem to be going down that well and the vibe from the Main tent wasn't in evidence here.
Snow Patrol closed things off and by this time the tent was full and you got a sense that the organisers had got the 10,000-plus crowd they were hoping for. As is traditional the headliners seem to get the best deal with the lighting which suddenly went intergalactic.
The band's set was drawn from the breakthrough 'Final Straw' album and the new one 'Eyes Open' and their anthems of heartbreak filled the tent. Singer Gary Lightbody seemed in jovial mood having recovered from the loss of his voice and the band worked the stage and crowd with consummate ease. (click on the link for an pre-performance interview with Snow Patrol's Nathan Connolly)
Entertainment continued into the early hours with the cheesy Guilty Pleasures disco and an indie-ish disco in the wooded area, but most people seemed to have returned to the campsite or gone home.
The weather looks like holding out for the weekend, and the organisers must be delighted with their creation which offers an incredible range of entertainment.
last updated: 17/11/2008 at 14:31
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sarah (appently the saucy fairy on sats gallery)
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