Saturday of Latitude 2011 saw an unwelcome guest rear its ugly head in Suffolk; rain, and lots of it. Despite this, the quality of line-up set promised day of art of the very highest order, something the weather could do nothing to change.
Conor O’Brien and his band of Villagers kicked off the second day of music at Latitude with what proved to be the perfect antidote to the rainy day blues that many on site were no doubt battling. For some the promise of shelter in the Word Arena proved to be as much an inviting prospect as O’Brien’s gothic acoustic musings on love, life and loss which would explain the packed venue. Working their way through Becoming a Jackal the Irish quintet’s swooping melodies and intricate arrangements combined to spellbinding effect (Pieces with its extended apocalyptic coda was particularly impressive), with a new song Grateful Song thrown in for good measure.
It was then up to The Walkmen to add some uber cool New York chic to the day’s proceedings; frontman Hamilton Leithauser decked out in all white suit proving to be a particularly eye-catching spectacle as his irrepressible vocals single-handedly ripped through the tent. British Sea Power have being wowing audiences across the world with chaotically calamitous live shows for the best part of 10 years and their Latitude set which followed the Walkmen was no exception. Rabble rousing crowd favourite Remember Me was effortlessly belted out as were numbers which spanned the band’s back catalogue including Waving Flags and No Lucifer. The riotous set was capped off in true BSP style when, much to the chagrin of the security, guitarist Noble decided to meet the acquaintance of the band’s dedicated posse of foliage wielding followers by jumping headlong into the crowd. It wouldn’t be a British Sea Power gig if he hadn’t.
The award for most unlikely cameo appearance of the weekend goes to Seasick Steve’s guest legendary Led Zeppelin stalwart John Paul James who played bass, amongst other things, throughout Wold’s set. It was very much business as usual for Wold, who, as ever, played a set which utilised a vast array of customised instruments. It was the lucky day of one girl in the front row who was plucked out by Wold and sat on stage opposite the grizzled 70 year old as he recited Walking Man before launching into the title track of most recent long player “You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”.
Alternative Manchester cult veterans I am Kloot added a touch of Northern gentlemanly charm to the Word Arena as Guy Garvey’s favourites raised a glass of Guinness to the large gathering which greeted them as they walked on to stage. Frontman John Bramwell went onto explain how the band had left Manchester at 2am, where it was “pissing down” to travel down to Suffolk and duly apologised for bringing the dire whether with them, before launching into 50 minute set in which tracks from acclaimed most recent album Sky at Night featured heavily.
At the main stage (to the bewilderment of the masses of teenage girls that had prematurely gathered in preparation for Paulo Nutini) bearded Kentucky natives My Morning Jacket treated the few music fans who were actually in attendance to a blistering display of rock and roll in its most primitive but simultaneously alluring form. Jim James and co produced one of the performances of the weekend laden with guitar solos and head banging which will no doubt leave with teenage mainstage audience with tinnitus well into their thirties. Highlights included the sublime Wordless Chorus and Off the Record from the seminal Z, as well as the classic One Big Holiday which closed their show.
Indie dance darlings Foals brought the curtain down on day 2 with a performance which was as energetic as front man’s Yannis Philippakis’s garish multi-coloured shirt was horrendous. Featuring staples such as Cassius, Foals rose to the occasion to close the Word Arena in style. The onstage energy reverberated around the tent was reciprocated by all those in attendance the massive crowd became enraptured by the Oxford five piece’s performance. It was yet another startling performance from a band that appears to go from strength to strength and not even Philippakis’s proclamation that it was to be there last show for ages, “perhaps ever” could put a dampener on the evening... the rain incessant rain had already literally done that.
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