Latitude Festival 2011 - Day 2 // The 405 Review
Nothing says ‘True Festival Experience’ like rain right? Well unfortunately rain also turns out to be pretty exasperating, once both your clothes and fish and chips are soaked; unfortunately, it was rain that was the topic of the day on Saturday. As if the rain wasn’t bad enough to dampen the festival spirit, I must admit that Saturday was the lineup that I was least excited about - not least with the prospect of Paolo Nutini headlining.
James Vincent McMorrow
I can’t have been the only one to have watched Irish singer-songwriter James Vincent McMorrow through default. The torrential rain forced what seemed like the majority of the Latitude crowd to take cover in the largest covered tent. It was here that James McMorrow played to a packed tent (and was probably the only person at Latitude to have been grateful for the rain). It was a shame then that his performance was so painfully dull and uninspiring. In isolation his voice was unique and his music was well constructed, however the final product was glaringly tedious and almost entirely mediocre. Not even through his pillaging of Fleet-Foxes harmonies was he able to attract the attention of the audience, many of whom were happy to speak over and ignore McMorrow’s brand of ‘wuss-rock’.
Adam Ant & The Good, The Mad And The Lovely Posse
Still pinned down by the relentless rain I was forced (begrudgingly) to stand through a set by Adam Ant & The Good, The Mad And The Lovely Posse. Now I’ll admit I knew very little about Adam Ant aside from his odd glam appearance. It was lucky then that Stuart Leslie Goddard, better known under his pseudonym Adam Ant, certainly did not disappoint in this respect; bursting onto stage dressed flamboyantly vaguely reminiscent of a camp Captain Hook. The spectacle did not end there. His performance of classics from his long and rich back catalogue was splattered with countless ostentatious gestures including partial stripping as well as a singing and dancing accompaniment from his equally brazen female backing singers. In fact so entertaining was the performance that I almost overlooked the tired sound and tendency for ‘heavy rock’ instrumentation.
It’s a tall ask for London 5 piece Villagers to follow Adam Ant. After all Adam had successfully warmed up the audience of over 40’s and children-on-shoulders with his upbeat music. In complete contrast Conor O’Brien’s delicate, understated brand of folk-pop was an odd follow-up act. However what Villagers lost in theatrics and dance-moves they certainly made up for in conviction and enthusiasm. Fresh from their Mercury nomination and well received debut album Becoming A Jackal, Villagers were able to command the stage just as much as Adam Ant.
The Head and the Heart
Seattle folk 5-piece The Head and the Heart have a lot going for them. Firstly they’re from the Indie-Folk Mecca that is Seattle, Washington, secondly they’re signed to Sub Pop records, lastly and most importantly they have a debut album of fantastic songs. Unlike so many bands that are loosely labelled under the ‘indie-folk’ banner, the Head and the Heart clearly put a lot of effort into creating a memorable performance. Unrestricted by the static norm of acoustic artists, the band made full use of the stage and were clearly excited to be performing. It was this showmanship, combined with their expert use of old time instrumentation, bold, gospel harmonies and strong songwriting that resulted in such a well received set.
My Morning Jacket
I then braved the rain to see My Morning Jacket perform on the main stage. Luckily for the half-empty field, the Kentucky 5 piece’s performance was one of the most enjoyable of the festival. The band proved that having such an expanse of diverse material seen in their previous 4 albums, can lead to the ideal festival appearance. Through their establishment of a strong connection to the audience, entertaining on-stage presence (my favourite being Jim James knee-sliding across the stage) and bold, anthemic songs, MMJ were able to command the large main stage, which, rain and size considered was no easy feat.
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