It was on Sunday that I finally decided to make the most of Latitude being ‘more than just a music festival’. Having previously only popped my head into the huge array of artist pursuits available (usually to keep out of the rain.) Alongside casual trips to the painfully hit-and-miss comedy tent (I draw the line at sing-a-long Humpty Dumpty) I decided to brave the packed out Comedy tent. I always find my experience of Latitude to be similar to living in London, there is a huge expanse of rich and diverse performances available; the fact that I rarely experience these is neither here nor there, the important thing is that I could if I wished and that is an enriching feeling.
Iron & Wine
Despite having released four great albums, the audience for Iron & Wine was depressingly few. Luckily however this failed to impact on the performance of the South Carolinian folk band Iron & Wine. The set was full of conviction, integrity and some of the best musicianship that I’ve ever seen. Touching on countless genres whilst retaining its folk core, the set was refreshingly diverse – something rare for a folk band. The performance saw unusual instrumentation, rich harmonies and witty on-stage banter that was so impressive that it even inspired the sun to rear its bashful head.
I must admit that prior to his performance I knew very little about Ghostpoet, but his set did present a welcomed chance to watch a band in the (shortlived) sunshine. Fortunately the powers above must have either given me a sign to watch Obraro Ejimiwe or at least saved me from sitting through Glasvegas and their brand of shit-rock, either way I was thankful. I can’t say I’ve been a fan of ‘indie-rap’ before, but after hearing the inventive lyrics and mellow, atmospheric instrumentation of Ghostpoet I can safely say that I’m closer to being a fan that ever before. While the performance could have been more slick and at times suffered from slightly dodgy sound from the small stage, the band’s performance proved that there are great things to come from Ghostpoet.
If like me you were a fan of Black Books then you will understand the excitement I had to watch Dylan Moran. Not only did Dylan successfully play a standout role in the sitcom but he also wrote and directed it; I was therefore justifiably excited to see his stand-up routine. It was a shame then that his 30-minute set was scattered with such remarkably unfunny material. In complete contrast to the hilarious Mark Watson previously in the day, Moran’s performance seemed overly scripted, wooden and poorly thought out. It took only a matter of minutes before his hold-nothing-back-drunk persona began to tire, regardless of whether his drunkenness was sincere it failed to excuse his tendency for ‘kooky’, whimsical words and trivial farce that obscured his act.
The Hidden Cameras
Judging from the near non-existent crowd, I wasn’t the only one to be confused to why Canadian 4-piece The Hidden Cameras were performing at the Music and Film tent – after all I failed to see where and why Film entered into the equation. Regardless I can safely say that the set was close to, if not the highlight of the festival. Full of catchy, bizarre songs, entertaining performances (most notably playing an entire song blindfolded) and a forceful, convincing live sound, The Hidden Cameras clearly cared little that the audience were so few. It was clear that the band enjoyed playing their set and as such responded well to the audience – not least after inviting an audience member on stage to play tambourine.
Photo by Rick Gofton
There’s more to Eels than just their music. Sure, over the past 17 years and 13 studio albums, Mark Everett, better known under his moniker as ‘E’ has produced some fantastic indie-rock songs but it’s impossible to ignore the context that both surrounds his music and ultimately, his performance. Indeed the set perfectly captured the cult of ‘E’; the band, all featuring the notorious beards and aviator sunglasses, was less the tacky gimmick it sounds and more an unusual but entertaining homage to the singer. The personality of ‘E’, whose life was affected by catastrophe after catastrophe, was expertly created and sustained throughout the performance. His peculiar interjections, voiced in his trademark gruff accent only added to his strong persona. Not even the age-old cliché of introducing the band with solos seemed contrived; Everett has a unique showmanship that seems to perfectly lend itself to the stage. I was thankful that the end of the festival was marked by such a remarkable performance by an equally remarkable band.