Last Night: Latitude Festival, Henham Park, Southwold
Weller gives it some welly as boutique festival leaps into big time
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Monday 16 July 2012
A newly sober Paul Weller closed the Latitude festival last night, with music on the cusp between British pop's Mod sharpness and psychedelic exploration. The former strand is considerably more successful, as one of his solo single rebirths, "From the Floorboards Up", and new album Sonik Kicks' Kinks-style suburban vignette "That Dangerous Age", both shine. But The Jam's "Eton Rifles", a newly pertinent rebel cry at our current ruling class, is the perfect finish.
Launched seven years ago as an upmarket alternative to its promoter Festival Republic's Reading and Leeds festivals, Latitude has quietly leapt into the big league. 35,000 are here, instead of the first festival's 5,000, for a line-up that, away from headliners Bon Iver, Elbow and Weller, bursts with astutely programmed intrigue.
Rufus Wainwright is Sunday's early highlight. Mostly sitting at the piano in a red smoking jacket, he stands and squeezes his eyes shut for torch song "The Man That Got Away", a gay-inflected cousin to "One for My Baby" .
Saturday's headliner Elbow sometimes seem to have been blunted by their late, massive popular acceptance. But tonight, as Guy Garvey constantly strides down the stage's gangway, among and just above the crowd, Elbow find renewed force. The inevitable finale, "One Day Like This", is the key that put Garvey's battered, benign emotion into a huge number of hearts. Earlier, he wheels broken-legged Richard Hawley on-stage, for a set of similar decent sentiments.
Nothing beats Josh T. Pearson, a straight-backed, prophet-bearded Texan. He has a pained smile, perhaps mortified by the intensely personal lyrics on his album Last of the Country Gentlemen. "Woman When I've Raised Hell" details the threats of a pathetic and inconsolably guilty husband.
Only Pearson's fingers move over acoustic guitar flurries, releasing little of the quivering, violent tension, which makes a friend of mine run from the tent.
Daryl Hall offers glossier heartbreak and regret. Rumer duets with him on "Sara Smile", but expensively-tooled 1980s hits such as "Man Eater" are the main attraction, sung in a white soul voice which, unlike Hall's black heroes, never breaks with emotion.
Elsewhere, at the i Arena, Liverpudlian Liz Green's songs of sex and drunkenness sit happily between the Weimar Republic and a bohemian, after-hours Wirral boozer. New York rockers We Are Augustines' Billy McCarthy's veins pump with pleasure at the audience's love, and Perfume Genius's Mike Hadreas, a fragilely boyish 30-year-old gay man, tests out his bruised identity with songs.
Latitude's multi-arts usp means the National Theatre and Royal Ballet can also be stumbled across in the Suffolk woods, but with this music, it's hardly needed.
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