Preview of Latitude 2010

Forget the World Cup, Wimbledon or Glastonbury, the main event for the more discerning music fan this summer takes place in a fortnight's time just off the A12 in the glorious Suffolk countryside.

Latitude Festival

Latitude Festival opens its doors on Thursday 15th July for a four-day extravaganza to celebrate its fifth birthday. Over the course of those five years, it has steadily grown into one of the most prestigious festivals not just in the UK, but Europe in general, attracting some of the most impressive names not only in music, but also comedy, literature and theatre too.

While not being ones to dwell on the past, who can forget Sigur Ros' incendiary headline performance on the main stage (Obelisk Arena) in 2008, or indeed Grace Jones terrifying and teasing the assorted throng of indie kids, families and general voyeurs on the same stage last year? Add to that Thom Yorke's early morning guest appearance on the Sunday morning and Marina & The Diamonds pre-fame slot on the tiny Lake Stage and you can see why Latitude is so highly revered to the point where it now regularly sells out in advance long before the majority of the bill has even been announced.

Of course there are other highlights too; the pink sheep, glorious woodland scenery, edible festival food and poetry readings that set this event apart from all of its competitors on the circuit. Indeed, while some of its more benevolent critics would label Latitude a "middle-class festival", its this family-friendly atmosphere that makes it so much more enjoyable than the average cattle market that is Leeds, Reading or V.

Looking at this year's headliners organisers Festival Republic seem to have gone for a more "indie" vibe than last year. Florence & The Machine, fresh off the back of her triumphant Glastonbury set last weekend and Vampire Weekend, whose sophomore album 'Contra' still continues to sell by the bucketload six months after its release date may be safe choices in many ways, but expect dazzling performances and a plethora of instantly recognisable hits from both.

Sandwiched in-between on the Saturday night making a rare live appearance are Belle & Sebastian, undoubtedly the weekend's biggest draw and already a must-see highlight for the whole summer. Despite having released no new material for four years, the fact they're said to be working on new songs at this moment in time suggests there may be one or two surprises amidst what is largely expected to be a career spanning set from Stuart Murdoch and co.

Elsewhere, The National's headline slot in the indoor Word Arena on Friday night should be unmissable, while the mysterious delights of The XX and revitalised krautrock sounds of The Horrors provide more than a touch of decision-making deliberations the following evening.

There's also an incentive for revellers to turn up a day earlier than normal this year, as the special guest performer on Thursday evening will be no other than the one and only Tom Jones. Currently enjoying something of a critical resurgence thanks to current long player 'Praise And Blame'.

However, away from the musical delights, there's also a vast array of treats in store elsewhere such as a rare UK performance from legendary US stand-up Emo Phillips, a screening of the highly acclaimed Britflick 'Four Lions' plus an opportunity to question director Chris Morris afterwards. Add the punk poet genius of John Cooper Clarke, Phill Jupitus' now legendary improvisation show and Mark Lamarr's regular after hours slot "God's Jukebox" featuring Geno Washington, The Jim Jones Revue and a host of others and its easy to see why Latitude's boast about being more than a just a music festival holds credence.


While the established acts on show will undoubtedly gain the most attention, we've compiled a little list of five up-and-coming artists we think you'd be foolish to miss at this year's shindig.

Islet - This unconventional Cardiff-based quartet may firmly believe in traditional values (they don't even have a MySpace!) but their experimental and largely improvised post-rock is a joy to behold. Recently mini-album 'Celebrate This Place' captures some of their extravagant appeal, but we recommend you check out their exhilarating live show for a full no-holds barred experience you won't forget. (The Lake Stage, Friday).

Gaggle - 23 girls, all singing in harmony wearing costumes that look like a cross between a religious cult and Joseph & The Technicolor Dreamcoat; what more could you ask for? Well, not a lot really if it weren't for the fact they actually have a bunch of excitingly unique tunes in their armoury to boot. (The Lake Stage, Saturday).

Spectrals - Leeds finest (only?) purveyor of doo-wop flavoured lo-fi pop Louis Jones makes his Latitude debut having just completed a round of dates with Stateside blog favourites Real Estate and Harlem. While not quite as raucous as the Jesus & Mary Chain, comparisons are inevitable but we prefer to call him the punk rock Billy Fury its OK to like. (The Lake Stage, Sunday).

Archie Bronson Outfit - Whilst not entirely "new" in the most pedantic sense of the word, the London-based trio have enjoyed something of a resurgence this year thanks to third album 'Coconut', already a critics favourite and virtually guaranteed to figure high up in the end of year polls for "Best Album of 2010" come December. Their live show can be both erratic and confrontational but never dull, and provides a welcome diversion from the hustle and bustle of the busier main stage. (Sunrise Arena, Saturday).

Wilder - Hailing from Bristol and named after cult actor Billy Wilder rather than the Teardrop Explodes record of the same name, this four-piece conjure up a mish-mash of influences and ideas all under one roof. Expect to hear references from Neu! To Roxy Music and beyond, whilst taking a trip to the basement disco for good measure. Innovative, exciting and destined for bigger things, catch them on one of the site's more intimate stages while you still can. (The Lake Stage, Sunday).

All that remains to be said is that whether you're singing and dancing along to one of the many musical feasts on offer, laughing insanely in the Comedy Tent or listening attentively to one of the many readings in the various literary themed arenas, you can rest assured no one will be disappointed.

See you down the front!

Dom Gourlay

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