Latitude 2015 Review: A Decade of Latitude

Latitude 15 stage

Latitude 15 stage

Latitude celebrated its 10th birthday this month with a sold out 35 thousand person capacity crowd and a big bag of birthday treats up its sleeve.

For the seasoned Latitude goers it was something of a home-coming, a dream laden return to pastures both serene and supersonic. A zone where everything simply flows right. These guys now have their game down pat, exciting and engaging their audience with every step around the site.

With so much noise in the media about this year’s Latitude it was difficult to avoid all the rumours of special guests. Even before we left there was a buzz in the air of social media as to who might be gracing the stages, nooks and crannies of this big birthday bash. In certain circles months of speculation had the crowd running wild as to who might be appearing – and from the hubbub you even had a feeling John Lennon might be returning from the grave.

Armed with only our tents and anticipation, we arrived at the Festival site on a dusky Thursday evening and prepared for the onslaught of rumour, conjecture and one of the best line-ups that the whole UK scene has to offer.


This was the day when the main music programme started and by now the arena was awash with wild speculation of who the special guests might be as everyone eagerly scanned the line-up for big enough gaps in-between bands for when they could be on.

The daytime bill had that certain kind of uplifting vibe befitting a birthday bash with the likes of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Santigold, Toro Y Moi, Public Service Broadcasting, Santigold and Nitin Sawhney with his insane Tabla playing all getting the crowd in the mood to party as they basked in the high summer sun.


Caribou by Sam Neil

Caribou were the penultimate band on the main stage. You would have easily been forgiven for thinking their intelligent electronic sound might be better suited to the 6Music tent than the open air Obelisk stage. That was until they closed their set with their sensual Sun track against the glorious Latitude sunset in a perfect moment where the weather and sound hit that rare synchronicity. This was the famous Latitude curation in full effect.


alt-J by Sam Neil

Next up was the much hyped headline set from Alt-J who were having their own little celebration after working their way up the Latitude ranks, previously playing the Lake and 6Music stages over the last few years. Now they were getting to play with the big boy’s toys, but even with the considerable production at their finger tips they fell ever so slightly short of delivering a beefy enough set worthy of a main stage headline slot.

After the bands completed their encores and the bright lights fizzled into obscurity the hopeful hordes headed to the woods to see if the rumours of Ed Sheeran making a surprise appearance in the iArena were true. The interest was too much for the venue and many were forced to find their fun at other alternative late night venues such as the comedy tent for the groove of Guilty Pleasures or the Far Away Forest for some Russian Cossack dancing. Others went far more than willingly, disappointed that a big star was allegedly being rammed in such a small space.


Lazing back on the grass was very much the order of the day on the main Obelisk stage with the likes of Laura Marling, Jose Gonzalez and Lianne La Havas. These all provided a blend of acoustic and soulful sounds that were most welcome for those fatigued from the strain of beating the festival drum for two days.

Over in the 6Music tent was an all-out Indie Disco with the likes of Drenge, Thurston Moore Band, Savages and The Vaccines all slapping out the punch for those still youthful enough or alternatively blessed to still be bouncing by day three of the festival.

Badly Drawn Boy

Badly Drawn Boy by Dan Medhurst

That afternoon on the main stage a typically disgruntled Badly Drawn Boy played his seminal album The Hour of Bewilderbeast fully punctuated with front man Gough’s trademark cantankerous commentary. This left some bemused, while others gave a knowing nod that this was what we have come to expect from the enigmatic Indie singer-songwriter.

In the 6Music tent The Charlatans drew a huge crowd made up of both those too young to remember, but who still knew all the words and those old enough to know better. There was a little reminiscing over whether back in the day the band were Grunge or Rave, sparking up the classic Oasis or Blur debate amongst some other sentimental musings.


The Charlatans by Sam Neil

The lounge on the Obelisk stage lawn culminated with a stark performance from James Blake whose spacious beats and eerily uplifting vocals were the perfect precursor for the beautifully chilling set from headliners Portishead. They played against a backdrop featuring a giant David Cameron face with lasers emanating from cut-out eyes and subliminal messages warning of another 5 years of Tory tyranny flashing on the videos screens that flanked the stage.

This was almost as sinister as the real thing and pretty scary considering all the kids were still up. Thankfully they drew the line at showing pictures of George Osborne. Wouldn’t want to give them nightmares.Portishead

Portishead by Mark Sethi

Later that night the masses once again enthusiastically set off for the woods to see who the special guest might be. And yet again many were turned away from the over-capacity venue that struggled to home all the hopefuls. However, had they hung around they would have soon learned that they could have gained fast track entry as special guest Thom Yorke managed to scare off half the audience a couple of tracks in to his droning DJ set they left in their droves.

In our collective opinion Thom was certainly an interesting choice of entertainment perhaps but possibly not what was needed to complete a Saturday nights partying. Maybe this was craftier curation by the bookers hoping to send everyone to bed early ready for the final day’s celebrations?


By Sunday lunchtime everyone looked almost as shagged as Bob Geldof’s hairdo. Luckily then the main Obelisk stage line-up was much more upbeat than the previous days, with acts such as the dishevelled 80s Punkster himself and his band The Boomtown Rats plus Seasick Steve, Manic Street Preachers and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds all at hand to pull the crowd back round.

Geldof screeched on to stage in a faux snake skin suit and managed to get the “c” word in at least once when he used it to describe how the audience looked when compared to him in their crap band t-shirts and weekend shorts. He then proceeded to tell them that dressing like David Cameron at a festival doesn’t cut it. More Tory bashing. Brill.

Bob Geldof

The Boomtown Rats by Jen O’Neil

Years and Years who first performed at the festival last year to just 200 people on the Alcove stage played this time to a brimming 6Music tent. Half way through their set they announced to rapturous applause that there would be another special guest in the venue later that evening.

At last, a main stage special guest. The elusive gap between bands on the line-up that had evaded so many people over the weekend was indeed there between La Roux and headliner SBTRKT and the precarious and wholly unsubstantiated rumours started doing the rounds again. Could the much called for Chemical Brothers finally be making an appearance at Latitude? Perhaps Noel Gallagher will join the Chemical Brothers on stage for in impromptu rendition of Setting Sun or maybe Liam will join Noel on stage along with Paul Weller because he likes it here.. Or, or, or… We’re sure you’re getting the picture.

Those that stuck around for the supposed surprise set did so in vain as the stage remained empty leaving many to draw the conclusion that headliner SBTRKT obviously needed an hour and forty-five minutes to get set up. Still, plenty of opportunity to get those all important Latitude sunset snaps with your group using the old smart-phone behind your sunglasses trick.

Sunset at Latitude Festival

Latitude sunset by Dan Medhurst

That night the main stage was closed by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and his seemingly endless collection of solo numbers, Oasis classics, and guitars. But sadly but somehow not unsurprisingly no Paul Weller, Liam or any other kind of sibling.

Gallagher and his band stormed through a choice selection of hits, stopping only to switch axes and berate the many Observer and Guardian readers.  He sealed the performance with everyone’s favourite Oasis sing-along track Don’t Look Back in Anger, which unlike previous attempts to get the crowd joining in had the whole audience all the way to the back hollering their hearts out, savouring the last of many memorable moments from the weekend.

Noel Gallagher

Noel Gallager’s High Flying Birds by Jen O’Neil

Summing up

After all is said and done, did Latitude do enough to satisfy the wild speculation running around before the gig? Well in my opinion nothing could quite have satisfied the amount of anticipation piled on by certain sources, however Ed Sheeran and Thom Yorke’s DJ set seemed to me to miss the mark. I am sure I wasn’t alone in expecting more from this festival.

What did we want? A main stage event that knocked the socks off the crowd. A big show of something special and spectacular. Latitude is a major event and they have the muscle to pull off a headliner that would blow the whole thing away. But no Human League, New Order, Blur or anyone with the stones and ceremony to really kiss this party goodnight. For that reason there was a little sense of disappointment over the proceedings.

Now the moaning is over, of course it’s safe to admit the whole affair was another roaring success. Plenty of fond memories were formed, new faces were embraced and the weekend exceeded expectations once again. It’s a testament to the incredible line up that you can simply chill in one place and the party simply keeps on turning over.

Latitude is somewhere you can sit down. Relax. Treat everything as it comes and let the festival arrive at your feet rather than chasing it round the site. Where dads can unashamedly bang their child’s plastic weaning cups to the beat on the grass to the bass drum of tunes spun into the audience’s collective consciousness. Sure you can spend the weekend whizzing around catching the latest and freshest talent, churning it up in the mosh pit – but that’s the beauty of this party. Whatever you’re looking for, it provides.

Yet again I am already sitting down on my memories, looking forward to more great sound and maybe even anticipating this monster festival once again.