Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 126: Latitude Sunday

Today's highlight: Magazine (by a whisker)

Our early morning finish didn't translate into a decent lie-in - one of the laws of camping dictates that you wake up when it's light, whatever the quality of the previous night's sleep. But we needed to be up pretty early today, to get into the arena before the inevitable crush for Thom Yorke. Plenty of activity around us, as quite a few people started packing up, obviously planning on leaving straight after the final act. Not me - I tried that plan last year and suffered desperately trying to keep awake on the journey back firstly to Wells, and then up North. No way was I doing that again!

So we wandered down to the arena with, we thought, plenty of time in hand, only to be greeted by a massive queue - everyone had, of course, had the same idea as us. Eventually the stewards realised that to retain a measure of control over the situation they would need to relax bag-checking duties and we started to move quickly.

Despite my vociferous protestations*, Simon again insisted we sit in the cheap seats for Thom Yorke, so we settled back for an hour of angst and misery from the lazy-eyed Radioheadista. Actually, Thom was quite chipper throughout, engaging in some hearty banter with the front row as he played a set of solo songs and unreleased experiments interspersed with a few post-Kid A Radiohead numbers (I spotted 'Everything In It's Right Place' and 'True Love Waits' amongst others). The languid sounds caused Simon to 'rest his eyes' for a couple of numbers, but not before spotting Tom Robinson standing to our right, taking in the sounds.

And thanks to the wonders of YouTube, here's Thom doing True Love Waits. Look! He's smiling and everything!

Most of the set is up there - as he predicted - if you care to look.

After Thom, we drifted down to the Lake Stage and caught a set by a Scottish band called Alfonzo. Dreadful name, but quite entertaining in a no-nonsense heads-down rockin' sort of way. Worth a listen if you like your hair long and your guitars solo-ing rifftastically.

Time for food, and while Simon braved the Australian steak sandwich combo, Paul decided the time was right for pie. More to the point, for steak and ale pie, chips and gravy. Whilst in the queue, I called Mrs W to catch up, and to gloat about our luck with the weather thus far. Which kind of rebounded on me when the heavens opened on me mid-pie.

Eventually giving up before my pastry turned into wallpaper paste, we decided to raise our flagging spirits by indulging in some comedy. Now the Comedy Tent at Latitude plays host to a vast array of comedians/ennes over the course of the weekend, but unfortunately is too small to house all the people who want to see them. In order to address this, the organisers have installed two screens outside the main tent to cope with the overflow. Which is where we stood to watch Jamie Kilstein, an American comic with a concern for the gay community that verged on the graphic at times - cue the exit of some families with young kids, parental hands glued firmly to their tender ears. All the comedians are, in theory anyway, given a parental guidance rating in advance but Jamie seemed to have slipped through that particular net somehow. Jamie was ok I guess, generated a few titters but not so's you'd actively seek him out at your local comedy club.

Jamie was followed by Brendon Burns, an Aussie comedian who did come with a '15' rating which was possibly a touch optimistic - but he was genuinely funny with it. Brendon comes from the 'shout, swear loudly and often and berate your audience' school of comedy, but with a charm that allowed him to get away with some genuinely outrageous stuff. I liked him a lot, actually.

Halfway through Brendon's set, the rain that had been promised all weekend came upon us with a vengeance, and we were lucky enough to take advantage of a plea for people to make room in the Comedy Tent, allowing us to shelter from a vicious downpour for half an hour or so.

Leaving the comedy tent, we went back to the cheap seats (for the last time) to see The Rumble Strips. I was expecting good things from the 'Strips, their first album is pretty good and the reviews for their second suggest a group that have grown and developed beyond their indie roots. Unfortunately it just wasn't happening today though a combination of poor sound mix and, quite frankly, some pretty weak material. Simon showed what he felt about it by falling into a deep sleep for the majority of their set. Bless.

He did rouse himself for the wonderful Gaslight Anthem, and we made sure we were on the barriers for their set, incidentally stood next to a lovely old lady who is, quite possibly, the trendiest old lady in the country. She'd been ignoring all the established acts, choosing instead to get down with the kids at the ravey ravey end of the spectrum. Respect, old lady!

No Springsteen this time, but the Gaslight Anthem don't need special guests to confirm their quality. No nonsense rock and soul, not a superfluous note anywhere and a real sense of joy in their music. They are a wonderful band and you should take them to your hearts immediately. Excellent tatts as well!

Time for more beers, drunk back at the Lake Stage watching Marina and the Diamonds. Sounding like a cross between Hazel O'Connor and Toyah, initial thoughts were mixed, but as the set went on, with a bit more variation and pacing in the set we warmed to her more. I won't be rushing out to buy the album, but not a bad accompaniment to a sit down and a pint of Scarecrow.

So where next? I was looking forward to Magazine and Nick Cave, but what to see beforehand? We decided to get into the Uncut Tent early, which meant watching (albeit from behind a massive pillar) Saint Etienne. Not a band I'd have gone out of my way to see, but quite possibly the surprise of the day, as they were excellent. Another band who really seemed to be enjoying themselves, and genuinely surprised by the positive response they got from a huge crowd in the tent. I'll definitely be exploring their back catalogue carefully on the back of this performance.

As the Saint Etienne crowd dispersed, I managed to get a decent spot for Magazine. One of my favourite bands of the post-punk era, I'd seen the reformed band in Manchester earlier this year and they were marvellous. Could they still deliver? Was the desire still there? Yes, of course it was. A slightly cut-down set still managed to incorporate all my favourites and Howard Devoto still manages to amuse, puzzle and provoke with his oblique pronouncements between songs. And what wonderful, wonderful songs. Performed by a band that has as much funk as punk in its make-up. Just about my highlight of the day.

So back to the Obelisk for the last performance of the festival from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I'd sacrificed most of their Glastonbury set, safe in the knowledge that I'd be seeing them here. Looking back at their rather 'polite' performance at Glastonbury over ten years ago, the current Bad Seeds are a noisy lot indeed, due as much as anything I think to the influence of Warren Ellis, Cave's Rasputin-like right hand man. Tonight's set was a raucous affair, with some excellent performances - Dig, Lazarus, Dig, The Mercy Seat and Stagger Lee in particular delivering on all levels. Simon was a bit meh, but I loved it - the performance only let down by the absence of an encore, possibly driven by the Sunday night curfew.

Back to the tent then, with the intention of an early night, followed by an early start tomorrow to beat the rush off site. A decision that was made easier by the arrival of the final rainfall of the festival.

*Some of this might not be strictly true.

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