More about: Latitude
It’s 11:30am on Latitude Festival’s opening day, and backstage, Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman is in a rush to make sound check. He has the unique privilege of both opening and closing this year’s festival, performing as Mr Jukes alongside Barney Artist to kick of proceedings before closing the party with Bombay Bicycle Club on Sunday night. No wonder he looks a little stressed.
A little later on, Glasgow’s Lucia & The Best Boys make a case for the glam resurgence with a set that affirms their ones-to-watch status, whilst Willie J Healey is typically boisterous in a full-blooded performance on the BBC Sounds Stage.
Gigwise cover star Self Esteem is a late addition to the bill, and her set proves to be an assured main stage highlight. Friday is all about Wolf Alice, however, who deliver a stellar headline performance on perhaps the biggest night of their career so far. It’s the band’s first major bill-topping slot but certainly won’t be their last, with ‘Bros’ and ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ already feeling like essential festival anthems.
Those who managed to shake off their hangovers are treated to a lunchtime set from Supergrass, who rip through the likes of ‘Pumping On Your Stereo’, ‘Moving’ and the enthusiastically received ‘Alright’. Damon Albarn’s set on the Waterfront is less of a success, with sound limitations preventing the intimate, piano-led performance from soaring to its full potential.
Working Men’s Club are a far more exciting proposition in the woods, as they lead a rave amongst the trees on the remote Sunrise Stage. The party continues with a masterful set from The Chemical Brothers after the sun goes down, with career-spanning highlights including ‘Go’, ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ and the euphoric ‘Galvanize’.
Rick Astley feels like a bit of a rogue appointment to the Main Stage line-up, and his set descends slightly into cruise ship karaoke with inapposite covers of Rag N Bone Man’s ‘Giant’ and Lizzo’s ‘Juice’ – neither of which landing particularly well. He’s certainly good for an ‘I was there’ moment, however, and a thrilling rendition of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ ticks the box with thick red marker pen.
A little later on and its Kaiser Chiefs’ turn to relive former glories, and the ever-professional Leeds band deliver the goods with a typically energetic display. They can’t hold a candle to the new generation, however, and Shame prove why they remain one of Britain’s most talked about punk bands with a raucous performance.
It’s a big night for Bombay Bicycle Club, who bring in the sunset with a career-spanning set showcasing just how far the quartet have come since forming in North London sixteen years ago. There’s a feeling of totality to their show—perhaps a suggestion that the band have now come as far as they can—but the rich instrumentation of newer cuts ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’, ‘Feel’ and ‘Luna’ are indicative of their enduring talent.
Less successful are Bastille, whose ‘reorchestrated’ spin on their usual live set adds very little to an unremarkable headline performance. The big moments pass without incident, with usual crowd-pleaser ‘Pompeii’ stripped back to within an inch of its life, and ‘Good Grief’ lacking any real pertinence as a closer. You get the impression they won’t be invited back.
It was always going to be a relatively simple brief for Latitude this year, but the work that went in to make the event feel special did not go unnoticed. Year-on-year, it proves to be Britain’s best festival, and after eighteen months of soulless socially distanced shows and sterile lives streams, it’s a more powerful experience than ever. Roll on 2022.
More about: Latitude