Latitude 2014, review: A huge success that shows festival is maturing nicely

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Eclectic line-up catered to all age ranges as sun beat down in Southwold

In its ninth year, the queen of arts festivals’ music line-up was more eclectic than ever.

Lily Allen suffered Twitter abuse from annoyed Two Door Cinema Club fans when she was announced as a late replacement for the Northern Irish group in Friday’s headline slot, though a delighted crowd that had baked in Friday’s heatwave was more than receptive to her charms.

Especially when she threw in a spirited take on the band’s 'Something Good Can Work'.

Allen’s debut set in the Suffolk countryside revealed stretch marks in her more banal love letters and clunky social satire, yet feisty tunes, enthusiastic chat and meta-pop references pleased a multi-generational audience.

Another sign of the festival catering for the tween generations was a surprise appearance earlier in the day from r’n’b/pop outfit Rudimental, delivering a confident, vivacious set. Elsewhere, the youth vote went to George Ezra, at least for gap-year anthem ‘Budapest’, and the inexplicable classical/r’n’b mess of Clean Bandit.

 

Two Door Cinema Club themselves were barely missed with a line-up dominated as ever by tasteful alt-rock, whether the glittery country-folk vibes of Swedish sisters First Aid Kit or Bombay Bicycle Club’s awkward mix of the fey and bombastic.

Among the heritage acts, hordes spilled out of the tent for Daryl Hall & John Oates, rebuilding the smooth blue-eyed soul of ‘I Can’t Go For That’ and ‘She’s Gone’ with blue-collar grit and barroom loucheness. Chrissie Hynde, meanwhile, showed her smoky vocals remained intact on former group The Pretenders’ taut new wave gems.

Damon Albarn’s mid-life musings were at first glance an odd choice to close Saturday night, though through sheer exuberance and punky vim his intimate, nostalgic reveries and state of the nation critiques mainly worked on a larger canvas.

As the lightning came closer, he closed with a pulsating encore highlighted by a fist-pumping take on Gorillaz’s ‘Clint Eastwood’ and Blur favourite ‘Tender’, joined by their guitarist Graham Coxon.

More esoteric fare arrived on the main stage in the form of neo-hippy vibes and headdresses from the exuberant Crystal Fighters, while the voodoo funk of masked Swedish tribe Goat cast a mesmerising spell.

Deep in the woods, Fat White Family spread more combative vibes with oikish intent. At a weekend where Sadler’s Wells is a huge draw, best of the few dance acts was the brilliant fusion of rave euphoria and pop thrills from two Scandinavian talents – Royksopp and Robyn. Imagine Kylie fronting Orbital.

For funkier rhythms, Kelis’s newfound organic sound made for a mid-afternoon hit, with infectious reboots of old hits, including the deathless ‘Milkshake’ and even rave anthem ‘Bounce’.

More leftfield, though just as infectious, was a collective tribute to crate-diggers’ delight, William Onyeabor. Vocal thrills came from Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and Green Gartside in a white Stetson, though the real star turns were the Nigerian synth pioneer’s seventies Afrodisco grooves.

An unexpected delight at a festival that is already a huge success and maturing nicely.

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