Latitude 2021

 

Hey boy, hey girl,                                                                                                                              Superstar DJ,                                                                                                                                            Here we go!

Yes, it actually happened. Latitude 2021. It seemed unreal as we drove up to Suffolk on Wednesday afternoon. Latitude was happening. After 16 months without live music, save for the online variety – and credit to all those musicians who put on some brilliant shows from their homes and studios and empty concert venues – we were heading for four days of music, music and more music, made by people, real people, standing a few metres away from us. From famine to feast. And yes, there have been many more important things to worry about over those last 16 months as covid and the necessary restrictions blighted all our lives; but music, like all the arts, is so important to how we live our lives beyond the basic, how we express ourselves as human beings. Latitude signalled a return, not only to music, dance, comedy, art, poetry, literature, debate, theatre and all the other pleasures on offer, but to being fully ourselves.

Jon and I went up on Wednesday and stayed overnight in a village called Campsea Ashe, which is near Wickham Market – in fact Wickham Market railway station is located there. We had a couple of beers and some very good food in a pub called The Duck – worth a visit if you are ever in the area. Up early on Thursday, for a half hour drive to Henham Park, the location of Latitude. The car park was open from 8am they said. We got there at 8.15; and hearts briefly sank as we saw the length of the queue already outside the entrance to the campsite. Those vaccine and lateral flow test checks were clearly holding things up badly. Then relief, as we realised the gates hadn’t opened yet! And it all worked very smoothly; we were soon heading for a prime spot by a big tree and marking out a space that hopefully we could hold on to for our group – friends and family – who numbered thirteen in all. We pitched various tents – or, I should say, Jon did – and put up bunting in a German towels-on-the-beach style. It just about worked; and by mid-afternoon everyone was present and correct and enjoying the sunshine.

So, on to the music that I enjoyed this year. As ever there were clashes, which meant I had to miss out on bands like the Staves, Goat Girl and Sons of Kemet. But I hope to see all of them either at Green Man or End of the Road later in the summer. A number of artists also had to pull out at short notice because of covid – they included Fontaines DC, Arlo Parks and one of my recent favourites, Billie Marten. But that still left a rich variety of talents, drawn almost entirely from the UK and Ireland this year because of travel restrictions and other factors.

There was no Lake Stage this year – the organisers haven’t really explained why. A real shame, as it was a great venue for new bands and one you’d often pass by, leading to some of your most spontaneous discoveries. Celeste was one such example in 2019. But there was no shortage of discoveries as you’ll see…

Thursday 22 July

There was more entertainment than usual for Thursday evening this year. Jon and I headed over to the main site at 6 o’clock. There was already a buzz about the place as we neared the Writers’ Bridge – crossing that bridge every year is the moment that you feel you have returned. And that feeling was more special than ever this year.

Our first show – my first since Moses Boyd at the Electric Brixton on 12 March 2020 – was William the Conqueror at the Trailer Park stage, which had replaced Solas. You could describe the band’s sound loosely as Americana with a leftfield twist. They are a trio fronted by Scotsman Ruarri Joseph. I didn’t know a lot about them, though I liked a track called Quiet Life off 2020 album Maverick Thinker, which got a bit of airplay on BBC 6 Music. Needless to say they didn’t play that one! But I liked the JJ Cale-influenced sound, and the punchy bass lines from Naomi Holmes. And a couple of songs in, it hit me, as Ruarri went into a guitar solo. I was in a crowd listening to live music again! I felt a tingle down the spine and a tear in the eye. William the Conqueror will stay in the memory, not so much because of their music, but because they were the first.

We went on later to another new venue, located in the Faraway Forest, a part of the site to which we rarely venture. The home of cabaret and hippies and Zen… and small dance sites belting out the techno, rather incongruously. It was called The Outpost rather appropriately, and was a low rise tent, with room for a couple of hundred people. We were there to see Lizzie Reid, a singer-songwriter from Glasgow. I’d heard a few of her songs on 6 Music and checked out her recent EP Cubicle. They are delicate, somewhat downbeat songs and Lizzie struggled to project them on the night. She wasn’t helped by the booming techno beats in the background. I’d happily see her again though, in a more propitious setting.

Afterwards, I went on my own to the Listening Post – the renamed (again) spoken word tent. It turned out to be my only visit, such was the music on offer. It was to see my favourite contemporary poet Luke Wright, a Latitude regular. I’d been extolling his virtues as a trenchant observer of modern life to my companions, but was quite relieved I’d failed to persuade any of them, as Luke was performing a collection of new poems based on Victorian characters, in the ballad form of the time. Very clever and densely textured. Still engaging, but perhaps only for those who knew him from his previous work.

A couple of beers followed with a few of the gang in the new bar, the Tap Room, located on the site of the Lake Stage, and what was to become the meeting point for the rest of the festival, with the demise of the Danish bar, which had been great over the last few years. Still a choice of Carlsberg Pils or Carlsberg Export though. How does the advert go? Probably the only beer in the world…

Friday 23 July

The “general campers” have been pushed even further away from the amenities and the main site this year, to make even more room for the posh tents, camper vans and families. You can see the demographic that Latitude is trying to attract, but fortunately this entirely commercial approach isn’t yet reflected in the curation of the music, which still ranges far and wide. The result of our location meant that it was a one mile walk to the showers – much better this year – and the Co-op, which became even more vital for breakfast material this year, as many of the old favourite stalls near the camping areas seemed to have fallen by the wayside (quite possibly because of the Co-op, though just as likely, the pandemic). So that was a two mile walk around 9.30 each morning – come to Latitude and get fit!  Over the four days, the health app that comes with the iPhone tells me I walked 36 miles. Helped offset the diet of Carlsberg I guess.

After breakfast, with Rick, one of our regulars, supplying the cups of tea to go with the Co-op egg and bacon sandwich (not bad) and assorted fruit (excellent), Jon and I set off to see the Goa Express at the Sunrise Arena, in its usual place In The Woods. (The band write their name in upper case.) I had them down as Britpop revivalists, but there was a bit more to them than that. They had a really fresh, jangly sound, very much the sort you associate with Liverpool through the ages, starting with you know who… A good reference point would be The La’s, that band who have influenced so many, even though they only made one, rather under-produced album themselves. Who doesn’t love the song There She Goes? The band are from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, which is a bit of a creative hotspot at the moment. Check out their recent single Second Time. It’s a lovely melodic thing that raises the spirits. Indie guitar music is not dead!

I checked out Lucia and the Best Boys on the BBC Sounds stage (which I shall call the BBC tent) next. We’d seen them, just as Lucia, in 2018 in the Alcove. I rather liked them then; this time the songs felt a bit overblown. I stayed for most of the show, before meeting Jon for a beer and then heading back to the Sunrise for Lucy Blue. She’s an up-and-coming Irish singer from Dublin. I liked her songs, which reminded me a little of Maisie Peters (see later), with a bit more electric guitar. One to watch. Next was the tail end of Wille J Healey’s show in the BBC tent. He makes an enjoyably retro rock sound that appeals to generations old and new. But this was just an interlude before we made our first visit to the main stage, the Obelisk, to see Maisie…

Lucy Blue

It’s hard to believe Maisie Peters was playing the Obelisk, and in mid-afternoon. She has a strong following and has been getting plenty of airplay on Radio One for recent songs like John Hughes Movie and Psycho. But she was playing Solas in 2019 (although she was already capable of selling out Shepherd’s Bush Empire that year too). I first came across her early in 2019, after reading a very complimentary article on the Line of Best Fit website, which asserted that she was making the best “observational pop” of 2019. I checked out her back catalogue on Spotify and was quickly taken with the songs. Singer-songwriter pop, written from the perspective of a young woman – boys are unreliable at best – with lovely melodies and sharp lyrics. Those observations that Line of Best Fit mentioned. All sung beautifully. A timeless sound. She was prolific during lockdown, releasing a string of excellent, confessional singles that reflected, but also rose, above the times. There are more collaborations now and you can tell that leading producers are involved, with some of those ubiquitous dance-pop sounds becoming more prominent. A debut album is imminent.

I was at the Shepherd’s Bush concert with a friend, who didn’t know Maisie’s music beforehand. She loved it. The show was a triumph and demonstrated that while the songs might be created in the bedroom, they were made to entertain. And the performance at the Obelisk confirmed that. It was Maisie’s first live show for two years, but she was straight out of the blocks with a set that brimmed with confidence. She mixed “old” favourites with the recent singles and a couple of songs from the forthcoming album that hadn’t been performed before. For me, highlights included the relentlessly upbeat Adore You, the samba-lite groove of Sad Girl Summer and a rendition of the ballad Feels Like This which tugged at the heartstrings. That was the first Maisie Peters song I ever heard. The two latest singles went down a storm with the crowd, John Hughes Movie closing the set. Psycho was apparently written with Ed Sheeran, though it also owes a debt to Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe. Maisie is clearly going places.

After Maisie, most of the group went off to see The Snuts at the Sunrise, but I stayed at the Obelisk to see Beabadoobee. Real name Beatrice Laus.  She played Green Man in 2019 and was on the Sunrise at Latitude, but I’d never got around to seeing her, despite some positive reviews. Her music is on the slacker/grunge part of the musical spectrum, though when I listened to it on Spotify I found it a bit lightweight in comparison with the 90s version. But I liked the recent single Cologne and she’s a fellow west Londoner, so I was curious to see how she would fare on the Obelisk stage. The answer was very well! The music packed a real punch, with some good grungy sounds. More Smashing Pumpkins than Nirvana, but definitely in the spirit of that era. There was a bit of singalong pop with her early single Coffee, which was very popular with the crowd. Glad I stayed, though I’m told the Snuts were pretty good too.

Strategy came into play at this point. Jon and I were both keen to see Wet Leg and Chubby and the Gang in the Alcove, but we’d encountered big queues earlier for a singer called Gabby Rivers. (We gave up on that one.) The Alcove isn’t that big anyway, and I think there were some restrictions on numbers for safety reasons this year. So we decided to go the concert before that – Sinead O’Brien. No problems getting in for that, but it was difficult listening. She talks/sings to a fairly repetitive beat and guitar scrawl. Let’s just say, it wasn’t my thing, or Jon’s. But it meant we were in place for Wet Leg, described recently on 6 Music as the Isle of Wight’s best kept secret! They have only released one song, the incredibly catchy Chaise Longue. But there is a buzz about them in the music industry and they have signed to Domino records, label of the Arctic Monkeys, amongst others. The Alcove was full when they began, with a lot of people left outside. Wet Leg are two women, Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, backed by three hirsute blokes, who laid down a tight, infectious beat throughout. Rhian Teasdale sings and couldn’t stop smiling, in contrast to her droll vocals. The songs were fast and danceable, with lots of Strokes-like guitar. And of course they left Chaise Longue until the end. What a reaction! Pure bouncing joy and everyone singing along to the refrain, revelling in the daftness of it all.

Most of the Wet Leg crowd left at that point, and a rather gnarlier group assembled for the next band, Chubby and the Gang. I was really looking forward to this one. I’ve heard a bit of them on 6 Music, courtesy of Steve Lamacq, ever the upholder of indie and punk. They bring to mind the Clash colliding with Dr Feelgood and speeded up. Signature tune All Along the Uxbridge Road, a shouty tribute to the road that cuts through outer west London, from Uxbridge, via Southall, Ealing and Acton to Shepherd’s Bush. As an Ealing resident I have to love this. Live though, it wasn’t so much punk and pub rock as Motorhead played at double the speed. It was brutal! Chubby – aka Charles Manning-Walker (suspiciously posh) – posed at the front, one foot on a monitor, bottle of what looked like Jack Daniels in the other, bawling out the lyrics indecipherably. The guitars thrashed, the bass and drums drove the music on at supersonic pace. Chubby, when not singing, looked on with a menacing pride at the crazy moshing taking place in front of him. Like all the bands on the Alcove this year they played a straight half hour, even though they were the headliners. And to be honest, much as I loved this, it was enough. It was exhausting just to watch! Jon and I reeled out at the end, exhilarated, but heads spinning. Buzzing from the combination of Chubby and his gang and the brilliant Wet Leg. Strategic mission accomplished. We could now enjoy headliners Wolf Alice on the Obelisk…

Wolf Alice have been one of my favourite bands of the last few years. I’ve seen them five times, twice previously at Latitude as well as at the O2 Kentish Town, Alexandra Palace and the Roundhouse. Their first album My Love is Cool was a brilliant collection of catchy grunge-pop. Album two, Visions of a Life, was an epic revisiting of 70s rock, with some modern pop hooks. And number three, Blue Weekend, continues the journey into a grandiose pop with the occasional rock fling. They performed a great short set at the Stone Circle at the Glastonbury 2021 live stream, buffeted by the wind. And now, they were headlining Latitude. The trajectory is ever-upward. And yet… still coming down from Chubby and the Gang, both Jon and I found the set, which did cover all three albums quite well, just a little bit…tame. Very slick, superbly presented, a band at their peak. But I got slightly bored at times in the middle of the set. We were a bit of a way back, so that the screens were the best way of watching, but I think the element of detachment was the Chubby effect. At the end I thought, I need to process this one later. And yes, it was really good, one of the highlights of Latitude. Towards the end, I loved the rocking revival of early single Moaning Lisa Smile; and the rendition of Last Man on Earth at the end was beautiful and epic, a crowd-pleaser for years to come. In the future I’ll forget that Chubby and the Gang blew them out of the water at the time. And I can’t wait to see them again at Hammersmith Apollo in January 2022…

Ellie sings The Last Man on Earth

Saturday 24 July

We’d been lucky with the weather so far – a mixture of sunny and cloudy, but no rain. We were expecting a wet weekend, but the forecast for today had changed, and if there was to be rain it would come late on. Sunday looked nasty though…

We sauntered up to the Obelisk to catch a bit of Supergrass. The place was packed, the busiest I’d seen so far. A lot of people buy day tickets for Saturday, and I think most of them set up camp in the Obelisk arena and stay there most of the day.  Supergrass were perfect for the occasion and duly churned out their 90s hits, culminating in “Pumping on Your Stereo” and the evergreen “Alright”. An upbeat start to the day. They were followed by Sports Team, late replacements for Alfie Templeman. Very late replacements: they’d been playing Margate the night before and got a call at one in the morning to ask if they could do a set at Latitude at 2 o’clock that afternoon! And here they were, putting in a very lively shift, singer Alex Rice bouncing all over the stage. Sports Team divide opinion a bit, mainly because they went to Cambridge University and Alex is quick to voice his opinions on all sorts of topics. They were also nominated for the Mercury music prize for their debut album Deep Down Happy, which accentuated the sense of privilege. Their jerky indie is a poppier version of Squid and can be a bit annoying if you listen to more than a couple of songs. But credit to them, I thought they put on an energetic and entertaining show today.

After Sports Team, there was no-one we had in mind to see, so when in doubt, see what’s on at the Sunrise. It rarely lets you down. Next up was an Irish singer, Orla Gartland. The blurb in the programme referred to her “existential pop”. Wikipedia said she’d made her name singing cover versions on YouTube. It seemed worth a go. And by the time she started the place was heaving. She was given a rapturous reception by the mainly youthful audience, most of whom seemed to know all the words to her songs. The Sunrise comes up with surprises like this from time to time, and it’s a reminder that there’s a world of music out there that you just know nothing about. Her songs were pretty standard rock/pop with occasional slashes of angry guitar amid the Taylor Swift-style choruses. (Example: I did it to myself.) But the atmosphere was great and we stayed for the whole show. That meant we missed most of Lava la Rue in the BBC tent. She is part of a west London music collective playing that melange of R&B, hip hop, dance and jazz which is pretty popular right now. Takes me back to the 90s – the Rebirth of Cool and acid jazz vibe – and I love it still. Will have to try to catch her somewhere else.

Orla Gartland

We stayed in the BBC tent for the next artist, Holly Humberstone. Another up-and-coming singer songwriter; but on this evidence she really stands out. She began with her electric guitar, reminding me a little of Julia Jacklin, but worked through a range of instruments during the show. Some of her songs were straight ballads, but most had some kind of dance beat, as befits the modern era. She engaged really well with the crowd, prefacing each song with a story of how it came about. And then there was the voice – beautifully expressive. I wasn’t familiar with her songs beforehand, but a couple that stood out were Falling Asleep at the Wheel, and one I later identified as The Walls are Too Thin. A fine performance, which made Holly Humberstone my number one discovery of Latitude 2021.

Back to the Sunrise next, for a couple of shows. First up were Sorry. I really liked their recent single Cigarette Packet, which was a punchy bit of electronic indie. But that didn’t seem to come through this evening. The music didn’t seem to take hold and my attention wavered. You couldn’t say the same about the next act, Working Men’s Club, fronted by the precocious Sydney Minsky-Sargeant. The band hail from Todmordon in West Yorkshire – the same area as Goa Express and another great recent band, the Orielles. Must be something in the West Yorkshire water! There’s a bedrock of New Order in the band’s sound, but more punch and a lot more guitar. There’s an element of the Fall too, especially in Sydney’s vocals. They played the Lake Stage in broad daylight in 2019. They were good then; they are outstanding now, with a superb 2020 debut album, eponymously titled, to work from. Tracks like “John Cooper Clarke”, “Valleys” and the lacerating “Teeth” come across brilliantly, with their hammering beats and swathes of synth, peppered with bursts of searing guitar. Sydney prowls while guitarist/synth player Mairead O’Connor sits or stands eerily still, with a stony face. The perfect foil. Lights glare in the dusk, giving the Sunrise a claustrophobic feel. Working Men’s Club have a real presence. One of the best new bands, and one of the very best performances of this year’s Latitude.

After the exhilaration of Working Men’s Club, we were in the perfect mood for the Chemical Brothers. The Obelisk crowd buzzed in the darkness as 9.30 approached. Would they start with…? They had to. They did!

Hey boy, hey girl…

The frames of slimmed down Michelin Men, glowing red, danced and somersaulted across the screens. Lasers shot out of eyes. The visual assault on the senses was as powerful as the relentless beats that had a lot of the crowd dancing (I tapped my toes with a bit more vigour than usual, but Jon and his son Louis were giving it some!). It rained a little during the show, but no-one seemed to notice. Apparently there was even some lightning, but it couldn’t compete with the Chemicals’ light show. I didn’t recognise many of the pieces, but old favourites like Galvanize were snuck in here and there, and the whole thing ended with a pounding Block Rocking Beats. That pretty much sums up the show – the block truly rocked. In 2019 we had the awesome spectacle of Underworld to finish our Saturday’s entertainment. Chemical Brothers came to Latitude in 2021 and carried the baton with aplomb. Who will be next?

Sunday 25 July

I woke up at around seven expecting to hear the rain hammering against the tent. There was nothing but a light breeze. I checked the BBC forecast – there rain was pushed back to the evening and the percentage chance was quite low. Maybe we were going to get away with it. And we did. A beautiful, warm, sunny day for the most part. We got lucky.

And ten of us were raring to go for the first show of the day on the Obelisk at the unusually early time of 11.30: none other than Bill Bailey! What a great way to start the last day. Bill only has to walk on stage and pull one of his bewildered faces and I start to crack up. I think most of the adults in the crowd felt the same way. I was hoping for plenty of music amid the jokes, and he didn’t disappoint. Highlights included the intro to Stairway to Heaven played on a collection of tinkling bells and a walk around an imaginary house growling his location, while accompanied by some of his trademark death metal riffs! (Ok, you had to be there…) It was quite a short set – only about 40 minutes – and it flew by.  But I’m sure it put everyone in a good mood for the rest of the day.

After Bill, I got myself a beer and settled on the grass to watch Self Esteem, the musical project of Rebecca Lucy Taylor. She was standing in for Billie Marten, sadly missed in my case. Thankfully there’s another chance to see Billie in the festival season, at Green Man. She’s doing a show in London in September too. I don’t know the music of Self Esteem that well, but I have picked up on its confessional nature, exemplified by recent single, I Do This All the Time, which got a lot of airplay on 6 Music. The show was quite dancey too, with Rebecca and accompanying troop dressed in black as they executed their moves. I think I could hear the odd Madonna beat in there. It seemed a bit lively for the lunchtime sunshine, but credit to her, she came in at late notice and put on a greatshow. I need to explore her music properly.

After that I wandered over to the Sunrise for Irish band Just Mustard. They’ve been around on the fringes for a couple of years now, but this was the first time I’d seen them live. I was really impressed. I suppose you could categorise their sound as modern shoegaze. There is a wall of distorted guitar over which Katie Balls’ vocals waft gracefully. The Cocteau Twins came to mind, but to sum them up I’d say it’s the Cranberries meets My Bloody Valentine. And that is all good! This show really woke me up – I loved those howling guitars and the sweet relief of Katie’s voice. Definitely a band to get to know better.

I met up with Jon at the Tap Room after that and we decided to go over to the Obelisk for James Vincent McMorrow and enjoy the sunshine for a bit. I must admit I was thinking of another three worded singer, Benjamin Francis Leftwich, who we’ve enjoyed at Latitude before. Never mind, JVM was a perfect accompaniment to an hour’s basking in the sun, with his lightly soulful songs, mostly sung in a falsetto. I’m not familiar with his music, but plenty of the crowd were. I liked his version of Steve Winwood’s Higher Love. And he finished with an excellent bluesy number. I liked his summery shirt too!

A pleasant interlude, but it was time to shake off the summer torpor. We had planned to stay on for the Kaiser Chiefs, but it was a 45 minute wait, by which time we would probably have zoned out altogether. Also, the Kaisers would eat into Nubya Garcia’s set, and she was essential viewing. So we decided to forgo the delights of I Predict a Riot and Ruby and take a punt on Liz Lawrence at the Alcove. It was a good call. She has a lively indie-pop style which makes you want to move your feet. The Alcove wasn’t full, but the crowd was incredibly enthusiastic – she has a loyal following. It was an upbeat half an hour which primed us for this year’s final straight, starting with Nubya Garcia at the BBC tent. Nubya is an amazing saxophonist and a central figure in London’s new jazz scene. She had a successful lockdown, releasing her debut album Source, which is an essential listen, exploring not only jazz, but her musical roots – the influence of reggae and African sounds is very evident. The show was an absolute dream, taking you to a higher place. Her sax-playing is exquisite and she had a superb band backing her, including Joe Armon-Jones on keyboards. Joe had headlined in his own right at the Alcove on Saturday. This was a pure indulgence of a show, a real joy.

We stayed in the BBC tent for the next band – something of a contrast! Those rowdy south Londoners, Shame. They put on a brilliant live show as ever, really engaging the crowd. It was a shame – no pun intended – that they clashed with Bombay Bicycle on the Obelisk for the first half hour, as the tent was only half full until reinforcements arrived after BBB finished. Not that it made a jot of difference to Shame’s performance, which was as full-on as ever. Singer Charlie Steen didn’t take long to pull off his shirt and launch himself into the crowd. And it was great to hear One Rizla near the end – that one has a real tune! I loved it – though possibly not as much as Jon, who disappeared to the front when Louis, Gab and Mark arrived from BBB. Steady on, old chap, don’t want to do yourself an injury!

A change of vibe for the last show: one I’d been looking forward to all weekend. Enough to miss the excellent Sons of Kemet. I’m talking about the strangely wonderful Greentea Peng. I love her music: the ever present influence of reggae and dub, the smoky, jazzy vibe, the distinctive woozy vocals. And the bass lines, oh my god, the bass lines! They snake around the melodies, ready to pounce. The recently released debut album Man Made is a summer delight – so relaxed on one level, biting on another. You get echoes of Grace Jones, Erykah Badu and even Sade, but Greentea Peng is a real one-off. The Sunrise was the fullest I’d seen it all weekend; a young but not teenage crowd, a lot of women. Shoreditch transported to a Suffolk wood! It was cooooool. And then there was me and Jon! Well, we do our best to keep up…

And what a performance it was – all those vibes I mentioned above and more. And sung with a smile by Aria Wells – for Greentea Peng is she. That was something I’d wondered about – would she affect that same aloofness as Grace Jones? She looks like she could. But not a bit of it. She was a down-to-earth London girl, just celebrating being let out to perform her songs again. Echoing the Beastie Boys, her song Jimtastic Blues combines a pulsating bass line with a familiar refrain: you’ve got to fight for your right to party. The young crowd sang that one back to her with gusto – you could feel the relief all around. The band were immaculate, perfectly delivering the required vibe. There was dub everywhere, including a few minutes of an instrumental when the echoes truly reverberated from the speakers. The bassist was so good, letting the music flow, deploying his double bass on quite a few of the tracks. The word that always springs to mind with this music is languid. Nothing is forced; everything grooves, Aria herself included, as she paces right to left, left to right. The set ended with two of her best known songs, Hu Man and then that perfect summer song Mr.Sun (miss da sun).  That one ran on for a while, as the band improvised and even let the guitar rip for a spell. It was all glorious. Maybe the best show of the weekend – it certainly felt like it at the time.

We met up with Louis, Gab and Mark afterwards for a couple of drinks. They’d been to Sons of Kemet and loved it. Nubya Garcia had joined the band on stage. Nubya and the incredible Shabaka Hutchings on the same stage – awesome! We looked back on the weekend – so many high points. But most of all we all felt so lucky, so privileged to be at Latitude after everything that has happened over the past 16 months. Maybe it will only be a brief respite, maybe it will signal that much hoped-for return to normality, or what now passes for it. Who knows? But at least we will have Latitude 2021 to savour. Never to be forgotten. When music once again came to the rescue, and we became ourselves again…

A Postscript

On Monday evening, back home, Jon texted me and Louis to ask what was the one song that summed up our Latitudes. He chose Wide Open by the Chemical Brothers. Louis went for G.S.K by Squid, though he was sorely tempted by The Last Man on Earth by Wolf Alice. I could have gone for that last Greentea Peng song, Miss Da Sun; but it had to be the song that jumped out immediately I thought about it. Of course it was Chaise Longue by Wet Leg. A moment of pure, unabashed fun in the Alcove.

Is your muffin buttered?                                                                                                              Would you like us to assign someone to butter your muffin?                                                 Excuse me.

Here’s the video.

About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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5 Responses to Latitude 2021

  1. I took some vicarious pleasure in reading this account of the return of live gigs, John. It does look like that’s about all we’ll get here in India this year. Although COVID cases are down significantly, we’re ‘preparing’ for a possible third wave.

    I had heard a lot about Maisie Peters. It looks like I no longer like pop music that comes out these days (with a few exceptions). Very little that has longevity, or potential for longevity.

    I had the pleasure of seeing Nubya Garcia play live in 2018 and I was floored. And I love her last album, ‘Source’.

    • John S says:

      Don’t give up on pop, Ram. What sometimes seems ephemeral turns out to live long in our memories. As for Maisie, she’s not typical of what I listen to, but I love just about everything she’s done over the last few years.

      • No, no, no, not giving up on pop. I was listening to some of Tom Misch recently that a friend introduced me to. I liked what I heard. I love London Grammar’s last one. I adore Angel Olsen. I enjoy the music of Dhruv Vishwanath (please do check him out; I think you’ll like what he does) and this girl Rafoo whose song I wrote about. There were a bunch of ear-openers that came my way when I was running the label. So, far from giving up on pop. What I have heard of Maisie, though, I don’t like although it is possible there will be other songs of her that I might enjoy later. I listen to as much as I do (heck, I turned seriously to metal music in my mid-40s) mainly because I keep my ears and brain open to possibilities. There will, of course, always be a matter of personal perception and taste. Cheers and happy listening, John!

  2. JON GRANTHAM says:

    Great review of a great weekend. Bring on Green Man!

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