Latitude Festival 2008
By Andrew Woodger
Franz Ferdinand, Sigur Ros & Interpol will be the main stage headliners at the Latitude Festival 2008, while Tom Baxter and Cheeky Cheeky & the Nosebleeds will be flying the flag for Suffolk. But, as the organisers say, it's not all about the music.
This year's festival takes place at the Rous family's Henham Park estate near Southwold on 17-20 July. Other music acts announced so far include Blondie, Foals, The Mars Volta, Sebastien Tellier Grinderman, Elbow, The Breeders, Death Cab For Cutie, Glasvegas and Buzzcocks. Sadly M.I.A has pulled out, citing exhaustion as the reason.
For the second year running, Bungay singer/songwriter Tom Baxter will be appearing at the Uncut Arena. It follows a year of great success with his Skybound album featuring the hit singles Better and Miracle.
Franz Ferdinand at Reading
There's plenty of excitement from the organisers around a special Sunday lunchtime performance from Joanna Newsom. The harpist, who festival organiser Melvin Benn says would have been a welcome headliner, will open the Obelisk Stage on the final day of the festival.
The comedy line-up is again second-to-none with Bill Bailey, Ross Noble, Simon Amstell and Russell Howard just some of the star names. They're also enlarging the size of the comedy tent, because when the big acts were on in 2007, you couldn't get near it.
The literary, poetry, theatre and cabaret stages are just as strong. Visit the Latitude official website for the latest line-up news.
There are 10 stages and the capacity of the site has been increased to 25,000 this year. In 2007, the big top covering the main music stage blew away before the festival started forcing them to turn in into an open-air stage. This year it'll remain at the mercy of the rain.
The festival director Melvin Benn says it's the strongest line-up so far: "It's a measure of the festival that people want to play it. Sigur Ros have an extraordinary following and their performance will be mesmerising.
"Franz Ferdinand are a multi-million selling act and it'll be Interpol's only UK festival appearance."
There are a lot of BBC tie-ins. Radio 4 will be broadcasting live shows including Loose Ends, Poetry Please, Broadcasting House and even Nicholas Parsons with Just A Minute.
The Lake Stage will again be curated by Radio 1's Huw Stephens under the BBC Introducing... banner and this time round will star local boys Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds, who will be headlining on Saturday night.
"I'm very pleased that Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds are headlining the Introducing/Lake Stage at this year's Latitude," Huw told BBC Suffolk.
"Good local boys with a sense of fun and some of the most ridiculously melodic, catchy, fun tunes around at the moment. They'll be awesome at Latitude I'm sure!"
If you can't be there, BBC Radio Suffolk's Stephen Foster and Richard Haugh will be broadcasting live from the site on Sunday 3-4pm. It'll feature an unplugged session from Cheeky Cheeky and a few surprises.
Radio 2 and 6 Music presenters Mark Lamarr and Phill Jupitus will also return to perform and curate stages.
Uncut is sponsoring the second music tent and its deputy editor John Mulvey said it's a festival with a future: "It's certainly our favourite festival of the last couple of years. It manages to reflect a more esoteric and interesting brand of music.
Melvin Benn and Hektor Rous
"It's not like a music festival where you have bottles flying through the air and campfires of plastic glasses. It's kind of civilised without being uptight and staid.
"It feels like a much more complete festival which I think more people are looking for these days. I don't think it'll get much bigger. The people that they're trying to appeal to are those that don't want to be packed in like sardines."
Some other good news is that they'll have walk-in urinals for men so that both sexes don't have to queue for the same cubicles this time around.
Sponsors Pimm's are also setting up a bar on the lake island. We're not sure what the toilet set-up will be there.
Anyone for bears in drag?
Part of that esoteric vibe is the Cabaret stage. Vauxhallville are returning. Troupe member Polly Vinyl was at the launch: "Last year we had a really good time. I like the idea that it's not just a music festival.
"We're vaudeville/variety. We have burlesque and 'bear-lesque' which is large gay, hairy men in drag. We'll also have drag queen bingo and puppetry set to the music of Blondie."
A greener festival
Latitude's organisers are claiming to be breaking new ground by having one of the stages/arenas powered by green energy. Arcola is a London-based theatre group and they're bringing alternative power to the site.
They say this is done by using low-energy lighting including LED and a hydrogen fuel cell to power the stage. The fuel cell operates almost silently and will produce nothing but electricity and clean water.
Doing it for the kids
The organisers say it's very much a festival that you can bring the family to. Sharon Reuben is in charge of the children's area: "A huge number of people have brought their children in the past two years. It shows a lot of trust in what we do.
"I credit children with a lot of intelligence and think that they enjoy the same kind of things that everybody does. So we've got music workshops, theatre, the Woodcraft Folk, local libraries and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust who can take youngsters pond-dipping and exploring in the woods."
The criminal element
Security issues cropped up in 2007 with a spate of thefts from tents. Melvin Benn says they're attempting to improve things: "At the end of the day, people have got to be careful what they leave in tents. They're always vulnerable.
"We provide left luggage, but we are trying to do more to prevent what are obvious petty thieves preying on festival-goers.
"We're putting a much more robust fencing system in, we're improving CCTV, I've brought in a former police superintendent to manage security and work more closely with the Suffolk police.
"Will we eradicate it completely? No - in the same way that the police haven't eradicated it in society, but we'll be doing a lot to make it better."
Festival Republic expected Latitude to run at a loss for its first five years, but Melvin Benn expects them to start seeing a return this year: "It's not simply a labour of love.
"I always felt it would be a five year plan with losses in the first three years. I'm reasonably sure we'll break even this year and we'll see where we go after that."
A full weekend tickets costs £130. Visit the Latitude website for full details using the weblink on the right. And don't forget to see what the 2006 and 2007 festivals looked like by visiting the rest of the Latitude section on this website.
last updated: 16/07/2008 at 11:02
Have Your Say
Happy with the line-up, new features and security?
Leave your Ipods at home this year boys and girls, the thieves will be around!
Festivals that have been running for years don't charge as much for ticket prices. It's totally overpriced and for that reason it's missing out from attracting general festival goers.
im looking forward to seeing Billy the Kid at 12.30am at the Sunrise Areana, they are fantasic!
Most excellent! i hope the tickets dont cost anymore than 5 pounds
They did that last year Mr Hynes ! The innocent village fete. Whack a Rat was awesome !
very glad that Sigur Ros is performing! and foals. Just hope you have the weather for it. Jess
I hope there is a tombola and an area dedicated to village fetes. That would be amazing!