Raw and entirely unapologetic, TRIBE//’s ‘RISE’ is an outdoor slice of a larger piece based on Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Still I Rise’.
This is dance at its most corporeal, an all-female quartet using an intense physicality to garner an emotion from the sun-laden crowd. Aggressive in its very nature, a pumping, drum-led soundtrack complemented the uneasy and brooding feeling emanating from the stage, changing time signatures and throbbing kicks shifting the balance at every turn.
Their movement never stopped, from beginning to end everything felt in a constant state of flux. All four have an intricate ability to add a different piece to the puzzle to create a darkly drawn picture. At times they can all be in complete unison, their bodies contorting together in transfixing modern ballet choreography. They can also be at total odds with each other, battling simply with motion, back and forth creating a deep feeling of antagonism with not a single word mentioned.
A highlight set piece was when one had complete control of the other, holding her head as if she were a ragdoll. As the puppet master flung the puppet around to ascertain their dominance, the duo’s wizardry in dance made it feel completely believable that only one had complete authority. In reality, it was the puppet’s footwork that was the real controller of the scene, as she commanded the whole stage to sell the situation with leaps and bounds. A captivating moment amongst a transfixing piece.
There were laughs and smiles all around ahead of Supergrass taking to the Obelisk Arena, with comedian Adam Buxton jokingly telling the crowd that frontman Gaz must self-isolate in a portaloo for the next few days. Not satisfied with the applause, Buxton went on to perform a brief dramatic reading of the iconic track ‘Alright’.
As Gaz Coombes appears alongside band mates Rob, Nick and Danny, they immediately launch into their set with an electrifying intensity. Taking us all the way back to the 90s, Supergrass tear their way through a back catalogue spanning the past 25 years.
The band’s originally planned 2019 reunion tour may have been postponed until now, but it seems Supergrass have spent the pandemic really honing their knack for entertaining huge crowds. From the back to the front, you’d be fooled into thinking it was a headline set. The message is clear from the get go: Saturday morning at Latitude belongs to Supergrass. As the opening bars to ‘Alright’ ring out in the arena, thousands of hands are raised to clap along and embrace the deep rooted nostalgia.
The Wind In The Willows
It seems fitting that before it’s even begun, the only word to describe the queue for The Wind in the Willows is snaking… or possibly worming. The news was out about this musical rendition of the children’s classic and the anticipation was high, as families of all ages waited patiently, weaving around the trees of the Faraway Forest.
The play has had quite a journey to the Latitude stage. Based of course on the family classic by Kenneth Grahame, this production was co-penned by theatrical legend Julian Fellowes, though perhaps best known for TV smash-hit Downtown Abbey. Starting in Plymouth and Salford before making its home in the world-renowned London Palladium, the play played to thousands before closing in 2017. Post-pandemic, it’s seen an intimate revival, playing on top of a jetty on the Thames overlooking Battersea Power Station, before it played to a fully packed Theatre Arena for one night only.
Intimate does not mean a reduction in charm, with the cast having it in spades. The eight-strong ensemble took us through a truncated tale of the infamous animals, though somewhat more human-looking than previous renditions. The staging was all about the ingenious use of everyday items. Turn a brush head around, you’ve got yourself the start of a hedgehog; a raggedy old suitcase and some cloths become the makings of a fox. The cast work overtime creating a backdrop of nature whenever they’re not needed upstage, all delightful puppetry as birds flutter across the willows.
It was toe-tapping and shuffling seats abound, with some intensely catchy tunes and an opportunity for some of the cast to belt out some big numbers. Or, in the case of the permanently boisterous Toad, a little rap in his own personal highlight ‘The Amazing Mr Toad’. If the audience are anything like us, they’ll be humming these for days to come.
The Close Encounter Club
When you hear the aliens have landed, you think little green men and lasers, not guitars and drums. Not so with The Close Encounter Club. Normally billing themselves as an “intergalactic live music venue orbiting Planet Earth”, this weekend the mothership crashed as The Outpost became their spacecraft for an indie showcase. Mind you, they invaded a tiny tin foil shed in the Faraway Forest two years ago, so maybe world domination is slowly on the cards…
Filmed for the club’s cult YouTube channel, the band brought along Cathy Jain and Swim School to The Outpost’s diddy stage, bringing a delightfully intimate feel to the psychedelic sci-fi spectacular. Both Jain and Swim School are on bigger stages over the weekend, so this felt like the cherry on top for their fans when they found out about their secret sets.
Cathy Jain opened proceedings with her delicate ballads and shimmering guitars providing a rich background to her introspective lyrics. Her latest release ‘Cool Kid’ went down a treat. It feels like a sublime piece of pop pie, a real chilled out vibe wrapped in a pop song.
Swim School feel like the ghost of Latitude headliner future. Their songs sound great under the canvas of The Outpost, but you can fully imagine their thrashing guitars and catchy melodies emanating from our bigger stages in future. There’s shades of Wolf Alice there, the mosh pits of the Friday headliner condensed into the front row of The Close Encounter Club for the smash ‘Too Young to Know’.
Both of these performances will be coming soon to their YouTube channel, we reckon you should check them out.
The Alcove stage is the perfect home for Josef Akin and his band, who specialise in an intriguing experimental combination of world music that leans heavily on jazz.
The audience are provided with a front row seat to a jam session that takes in continents, cultures and celebrates the identities of those Akin has met on his travels.
Opener ‘Sun Hits’ takes inspiration from the rich Afrobeats landscape, and sees the band pick up a number of specialist instruments gifted to them by a Ghanaian man as part of a musical exchange programme. The music never fully ends, and instead flows into one another like a calming river. Everyone present is given a guided tour through some of the world’s most abundant musical styles. Vocal scatting elements are added to help tie everything together, provided by India Blue – also providing trumpet playing skills.
The band members feature in a number of other projects together that are equally celebratory of other lands. In a year when travel was impossible, Josef Akin is able to bring the world directly to Henham Park.
Holly Humberstone cuts a lonely figure on the BBC Sounds stage, as she emerges with no band for what is her debut Latitude set. Having released much of her music so far during the pandemic, this is a first outing for popular singles ‘Deep End’ and ‘Please Don’t Leave Just Yet’. Much of the crowd already know the words and there is even an audience member sporting a bedazzled love heart on his chest containing Humberstone’s name.
Humberstone’s unassuming presence and peaceful voice make today’s set feel like the beginning of a magical year ahead. Visibly humbled by the experience, a noticeably nervous Holly is still able to guide her crowd through deeply personal topics about specific people in her life.
As she flits between guitars and keyboards, Humberstone adds more strings to her musical bow. Everything about the set is drastically understated for how accomplished a listening experience it is.
With a new single being released next month, it is entirely safe to assume that Holly Humberstone will be one to watch in 2021.
You’d expect us to have a history with Katherine Ryan. After all, she has been the adopted queen of the British comedy scene for many years. What you might not expect is how much history we have with her daughter Violet.
See, Violet has graced our stages twice herself already. Just two years ago, she stole the spotlight when she and her friend Matilda claimed the last moments of Ryan’s 2019 set, performing the cup song from ‘Pitch Perfect’. Even more remarkably, Violet made her comedy debut at just 21 days old, when Ryan as a single mum came adorned with the newborn in a papoose.
But Violet’s not on stage this time, so this gave ample opportunity to make her the subject of Ryan’s wry look on life. A short lifetime living in Britain has given Violet quite the accent that the Canadian Ryan wasn’t afraid to mock, mimicking her Queen’s English lilt. But it’s Ryan who’s really the butt of the joke. Priding herself on being woke years ago, Violet is more than happy to show her that the barometer has shifted. Never has the term “cancelled” sounded so delightfully British.
It’s not just her children that get the grilling. After so many years Ryan now admits she’s fully assimilated in British culture. Case in point: an unrivaled love of Naked Attraction. She doesn’t claim to know why she loves it so much, but is so devoted she wants to star in a celebrity version.
This was Katherine’s first gig in over a year and a half, so was just the comedian playing around with ideas, having fun. We hope we see Katherine and Violet again soon.
The Waterfront Stage played host to a very special guest by the name of Damon Albarn. A recent addition to the Latitude line up, the one time Blur frontman has a solo project set for release later this year.
This lake front set is a chance for an exclusive first listen. With forays into Afrobeats in his past, there is a clearly mapped journey to the new material. Most noticeably, the percussive elements throughout draw on Afro influences, rolling rhythmically alongside horn sections and funk infused bass lines.
Portions of the set veer off into more experimental territory, but there remains a central anchor in Albarn’s signature vocal style that prevents things from drifting too far into left field. Famed for his aggressive Britpop days, Damon has matured into a much gentler performer. His singing is light and glides across the accompanying melodies like a cool summer breeze. There are instrumental portions that enter a cinematic space, befitting the majestic riverside setting in the shadow of the iconic Latitude sign.
Albarn’s between song chatter about not needing his glasses so much these days draws chuckles from the crowd. A humanising anecdote for one so ingrained in the tapestry of British music history.
The idyll is occasionally paused for Damon and his band to let loose just a little. Lost in the music, the band whip themselves into a frenzy to add yet another one of a kind layer to this unique listening experience.
The mighty Sleaford Mods crashed onto the BBC Sounds stage with a level of ferocity that would make anyone jump. The proud Nottingham duo care greatly about their working class roots, and as they blow the roof off the tent with tracks bemoaning everything from the government to Tesla and Elon Musk, it’s hard not to buy into their new world order.
You could be forgiven for thinking Keith Flint of The Prodigy had returned to this world, as frontman Jason Williamson charged around the stage letting rip on one aggressive post-punk manifesto after another. Akin to a rave infused political rally, Williamson cuts an almost eerie feeling on the stage, calling to mind the ghost of Ian Curtis of Joy Division. The playful contempt on display is refreshing, with the crowd on their toes to find out which ideology Sleaford Mods will take aim at next.
There’s a fair amount of swearing and complaining throughout the set, but it creates a galvanising feeling amongst the crowd who are more than happy to mosh themselves senseless as they attempt to muster even an ounce of the energy on display here.
It is a big risk to spend a headline slot having a moan about the state of the world, but Sleaford Mods have mastered the art of bringing everyone on board with their one of a kind style. From start to finish the intensity is maintained, with all of the lyrics delivered with the power they need to truly convey every sentiment imaginable.
The Chemical Brothers
This is for the ravers. The late night party people still going strong at 3am deep in the woods. This is for the fans. Those whose lives have been soundtracked by the big beats of The Chemical Brothers. Truth be told, this is for everyone. Another booming indication from the weekend that life is back on track. An uproarious end to a sold out day of celebration. And a jam-packed explosion of sounds to finish at that.
Before the show, the stage already looked like it could do some damage. The duo of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons’ set up looks like it’s more ready to break the enigma code than deliver block-rockin’ beats. It’s stacks of tech on stacks of tech, a DJ’s lucid dream of wires, switches and dials.
After a twisting and turning intro of Noel Gallagher vocals delaying that first drop we were all so craving, the iconic, electronic wail of ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ cutting right through it was all we needed to know that arrival was imminent. “Here we go”, as they say. ‘Chemical Beats’, ‘Go’, ‘Galvanise’ – a relentless charge through the years of one of the best in the game. Each song contorted as it went, the megafans roared as B-sides and deep cuts provided little flourishes in amongst the hits.
It’s as much a masterclass in visuals as it is in music. It’s a set that feels like twenty years in the making. The pair have steadily built up a library of stunning reels to accompany their music. Floating CGI heads made of neon string sing along as they unravel into thumping waves. Balls of green and yellow paint explode as giant balloons fire from the front of the stage. Guest vocalist Aurora looks more futuristic mech when she appeared for her part in ‘Eve of Destruction’, the Power Ranger we didn’t know we needed.
Then there were the robots. In what might’ve been the biggest surprise on a night of knowing the classics, two twenty-foot tinpot robots crash the stage. Their cameo is all but brief, dwarfing the DJ duo that already cut a domineering presence on stage, but it’s a short burst of laser eyes and robo-dancing before they disappear into the night. Another “did that just happen?” in a set full of unforgettable moments.
Chemical Brothers show directors – Smith & Lyall.
We’ve got our traditions at Latitude that we love to see again and again. Gondolas on the lake. Oodles of pink sheep. The swirly slide. Yet despite calling Latitude home for over ten years and becoming a Latitude institution, we still never quite know what we’re going to see when Duckie careen into the bedlam of their Saturday night takeover.
Strolling in to a late night Duckie show, you do have to expect two things though. There will be disco – and just about anything else can happen. This is not just cabaret with the boundaries pushed; they’ve been smashed, pulverised and someone is likely tap dancing as Mr Blobby on top of them.
Take Midgitte Bardot, dressed head to toe in dishevelled renaissance garb, stripping as she sings, all the way down to her Umbro shorts. You’d expect nothing less of Duckie to whack that on a bill, side by side with Kate Conway’s energetic Hungarian violin. The headliner Katie Baird can pack an hour’s show into three minutes, taking us on a whirlwind tour of Scotland via Elvis Presley, ending with a very literal rendition of ‘Donald, Where’s Your Troosers’.
There’s only one rule: to entertain the late night revellers. And the crowd lapped it up with vigour. They even got involved in the act. During a quick disco break, a community hula circle broke out in the middle of The Ballroom. Conway had the front row trying beer-filled ballet. For Baird, the Highland jig was out in full force, the do-si-do spinning round and round until it spilled out into the fields outside. Wouldn’t get that at Chemical Brothers…