Latitude Festival 2009 - Preview

Latitude Festival 2009

Latitude Festival

Next weekend (16th-19th July) sees the fourth Latitude Festival open its doors, and Contact will be there in full force providing a full review of the weekend's events. Here, we preview our picks of arguably the UK's most amiable festival..

While Glastonbury may be the festival that receives most of the media attention and Reading/Leeds regularly acquires the most notable (in a commercial sense) headliners, Latitude has rightfully earned its place among the UK's festival big league by providing more than just a musical mudbath in the middle of nowhere.

Although still in its embryonic stages compared to its more renowned elder brothers and sisters on the circuit, Latitude has continually improved year-upon-year, pulling in big name exclusive headline slots from the likes of The Arcade Fire, Interpol and Sigur Ros since its conception in 2006. Add to that an eclectic bill that's more suited to the music connoisseur rather than obvious radio friendly matter, not to mention the various comedy, literature, film, poetry and cabaret stages littered around the site which makes Latitude the most unique festival of its kind on these shores, if not Europe.

Situated in the idyllic Norfolk countryside of Henham Park, Latitude offers a scenic alternative that won't see your best shoes ruined within an hour of walking between stages, not to mention one of the most vibrant, family-friendly atmospheres you're likely to find at an outdoor event of this nature.

This year's headliners certainly made a few eyes and ears prick up, even if it was only for the slightly unorthodox choice of the Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones and Nick Cave. While the former duo probably had the same effect as a spitroast joint of pork at a Bar Mitzvah in indie circles, the latter proved to be a welcome addition in every sense of the word, his set promising to include many notable highlights from his three-decade long career.

Reading further down the line-up, several names stand out as being unmissable for various reasons, most notably Danish post-rockers Mew. Their appearance in the Uncut Arena on Friday will be one of their first in this country for nearly three years, and with new album 'No More Stories' set to hit shops next month, it promises to be one of those must-see moments. The same thing can also be applied to experimentalist five-piece Of Montreal, whose 'Skeletal Lamping' long player was critically acclaimed as one of 2008's best. They'll be performing in a mid-afternoon slot on the outdoor Obelisk Arena stage again on the Friday, and we assure you this is one show you definitely cannot afford to miss. Black Joe Lewis pay a rare visit the the UK, the band are set brings a little blues to the Sunrise Area.

Staying at the Obelisk, Saturday looks like being one of those days where Contact will be setting up camp in front of that particular stage for virtually the entire day, as the orchestral folk rock of Broken Records, ubiquitous pop rock of The Airborne Toxic Event, and epic poignancy of both White Lies and Doves provide Saturday's entertainment. Alternatively, there's also the elaborately winsome Camera Obscura and hushed psychedelia of Spiritualized enticingly playing in the Uncut Arena, while the beat-laden dream pop of Maps hover away auspiciously in the Sunrise Arena.

Sunday meanwhile will be a case of get those running shoes on, as the inevitable clashes between the pick of the stages occur almost by the hour. Hjaltalin followed by iLiKETRAiNS in the Uncut Arena seems like a perfectly mellow way to start the day, but then we're spoilt for choice as Leeds indie poppers Sky Larkin, Glaswegian stalwarts The Vaselines and Gallic sensations Phoenix all vie for attention. As the evening progresses, Bristol's avant garde hip-hopper Tricky, post-punk legends Magazine, new pop sensation Marina & The Diamonds and Birmingham miserablists Editors stand out as being particular highlights.


Pulled Apart By Horses - This punk/rock/noise hybrid of blood sweat and tears will have you jumping for joy and tearing your hair out in equal measures. Expect crowd surfing, speaker stack assaults and stage invasions aplenty, not to mention an array of awesomely radical tunes. (The Lake Stage; Saturday)

Chew Lips - Having caught these earlier this year at both Camden Crawl and The Great Escape, we consider ourselves perfectly placed (or should that be stalkers?) to implore you go and see the capital's finest electro punk shockers. (The Lake Stage; Friday)

First Aid Kit - Swedish folk probably doesn't have an instant ring to it, but this teenage duo evoke many an emotion via their (mostly) joyous ditties and dense harmonies that sound way more complex and advanced beyond their tender years. (Sunrise Arena; Sunday)

Band Of Skulls - Still waiting for the White Stripes to return to the balls-out rockiness of 'Elephant'? Well, the wait is over, as this London three-piece evokes the spirit of Jack and Meg's more frenetic moments and then some. Don't believe us? Check out their 'Baby Darling Doll Face Honey' long player then marvel at the intensity of the live show. (Sunrise Arena; Saturday)

Lyrebirds - Fresh from supporting The Maccabees on their recent 'Wall Of Arms' tour, this Brighton foursome make unconventional epic pop that is both inspiring and chilling in its delivery, yet contains more hooks than a local butcher's shop. (Sunrise Arena; Saturday)

Elsewhere, if music isn't your particular food of love, there's an array of talent waiting to be seen on the numerous other stages. After his rabble-rousing performance in the Literary Arena last year, Mark Thomas is back at Latitude for a second time headlining the comedy tent on Friday. Sunday also sees a rare appearance from Jo Brand, while the perennially humorous musings of Sean Hughes should brighten up Saturday afternoon's proceedings.

Add to this Mark Lamarr's 'God's Jukebox' on Saturday evening in the Film & Music Arena, Robin Ince's Book Club in the Literary tent and the delightful musical theatre of The Irrepressibles on the Waterfront Stage and you're still not even a tenth of the way round exploring all the many possibilities Latitude has to offer.

I guess all that remains to be said is that whether you're dancing away to one of this year's many musical feasts, chuckling at the insatiable glut of top-notch comedy acts or sitting comfortably and attentive during one of the poetry and literature readings, have a good one. After all, with so many different artists from all aspects of the entertainment spectrum to choose from, how could you possibly not?

See you there!

Dom Gourlay

Read the full line-up here

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