Festivals

Latitude 2018 Review

Latitude 2018 Review

Oh Latitude – You blew me away!

I’ve never been to Latitude; always deemed it as a festival that wasn’t really “my thing”.  Being a local to Southwold, I would watch the people arriving each year, excited about the upcoming event.

This year, primarily because The Killers were playing, I wanted to go and I am fortunate that I can come and go from home (home being our boat on Southwold Harbour).  For the record, I love many different genres of music: Jazz, Gospel, Swing, Soul, House, Americana, Blues, Rock, Metal, Techno… you get the idea.

So, for the first night, I jumped on the shuttle bus and 15 minutes later, I was there.  The shuttle bus is superb; cheap at £5 return from Southwold, and very prompt in terms of the timetable.

I usually prefer smaller festivals and thought I may be overwhelmed by one on this scale.  I was, and for all the right reasons.  From the moment I stepped into the main site, I was gobsmacked by the beauty of it.  I immediately felt safe and as though I was amongst a very happy crowd.  Every member of staff I encountered were happy, welcoming and helpful.  The attention to detail, lighting, and décor was stunning.  There was even a fully stocked Co-Op Store (I told you I tend to frequent smaller festivals).

Already, from the first night, one gets a feel for the mix of people attending the event.  There really is something for everyone and it’s a joy to see so many children congregating and happily enjoying themselves, alongside adults.  Highlight of tonight was The She Street Band, an all-female Bruce Springsteen tribute act.  Simply fabulous!

Second day, we travelled up by boat and got a free shuttle from the local pub.  Easy!

The Alcove offers a shady area where a few bands play and cocktails are on offer.  Nice and chilled atmosphere and a welcome break from the sun and dust.

The Piano Garden, tucked away in a corner is also a relaxing place to just sit and unwind.

The Killers were outstanding at the Obelisk Arena.  Their effort, enthusiasm, and genuine gratitude towards their audience, never ceases to amaze me (as well as Brandon Flowers’ gleaming white teeth smiling out from the stage).  A perfect high to end the evening on.

Liam Gallagher was the surprise act this year, appearing on the BBC Music Stage.  There’d been a lot of speculation about who it would be and then his Twitter post certainly got things going. Absolutely brilliant performance, and the air of excitement was uplifting. Great to see parents bringing their kids along to share a moment of nostalgia.

The Lake Stage was a joy to be around.  The mix of music made me smile and I could have stayed there for hours.  The smiles from the crowd there never failed to entice me back into the throng!

My absolute favourite stage was the Waterfront.  I was transfixed by the music and performances there.  The Phoenix Dance Theatre performed Windrush: Movement Of The People (exploring the Caribbean immigrant experience).  Dressed in black lycra (imagine that on a hot day) their performance was mesmerising, as were the performances by The Ballet Boyz.

Other great sides to the festival included the raising of awareness in relation to the environmental issues, with many interactive activities involving children, offering them a more engaging way of understanding the issues our planet currently faces.  Greenpeace had a very strong presence at the festival, alongside others such as those promoting traditional building courses and woodcraft etc.  It was great to see a wealth of recycling areas at the event.

There were talks about the effects of population growth and sustainability within the Speakeasy area but, every time I tried to get in there, it was way too packed for a shorty like me and listening from the outside didn’t really work, due to the noise from other areas.  Clearly, they had some very engaging speakers and I was a bit sorry to have missed out on some of them.  Great that it was so popular.

Health related stands, such as The Robin Cancer Trust and Coppafeel, made the topics of Testicular & Breast Cancer far more accessible to the crowd.  Something I am very passionate about and I truly believe help people take these issues more seriously whilst engaging and imparting information in a light-hearted manner.  Well done to those dedicated people who stood in the heat and maintained their enthusiasm for the entire weekend.

Going back to what was on offer for children…  I was hugely impressed with regards to the effort that was made.  Not only did they have the traditional fairground rides and play areas, there was tree climbing, clay model making (fun for adults as well), woodworking, babysitting training, music, and, my favourite, The School Of Noise where children could drop in and play with a range of sound machines and speak to special guests.  When I was there, they had a Q&A session between the children and Hannah Peel, who had just performed.  She was absolutely wonderful and answered all questions in a gentle and story tale manner, which captivated them.  Speaking of stories; there was a designated children’s bookshop (courtesy of Waterstones) and a children’s theatre where I saw the most wonderful outfits being worn by happy kids.  This is what stood out for me more than anything – the way children were offered so many opportunities to create, take risks, get dirty and dusty and have a level of independence, whilst charging around with each other and getting in touch with their wild sides.  I loved witnessing that sense of freedom.

Then, before Rag N Bone Man played, I headed over to the theatre to catch the final show:  Paines Plough and Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s premiere of Anna Jordan’s new play, Pop Music, which depicted a couple of friends (with accompanying performer & signer for the deaf/hard of hearing) who had hit their mid-30s and wondering what had happened to their lives, with the accompanying soundtrack of classic pop music from the last few decades.  It was hilarious and extremely poignant, causing me to laugh and cry within the space of a few minutes.

All in all, I don’t think anyone could complain about Latitude unless, of course, you simply don’t like crowds and getting grubby.  Whatever your preference, you will find something to occupy and delight you.  The festival was one of the most relaxed ones I’ve been to when it came to the magnitude of the event.  I didn’t feel over-crowded or irritated at any point.  There was an overwhelming sense of harmony coming from the crowd.  To try and review a festival of this size, is pretty tricky!  Suffice to say, I felt a huge level of excitement the entire time I was there.

It’s a gem of a festival and I can’t wait to return next year.

Words + Pictures: Jo Green

 

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