Latitude review: George Ezra is an affable headliner, while Lana Del Rey is an enthralling but divisive presence

There is staying power in Del Rey's languid, out-of-its-time Americana, and at Latitude she performs it with glamour and conviction

Lana Del Rey performs at Latitude Festival, 21 July 2019
Lana Del Rey performs at Latitude Festival, 21 July 2019

“It’s starting to rain,” announce Houston group Khruangbin as the heavens open at Latitude Festival. “If we know anything about British people, it’s that that won’t put you off.” Nearby, hip-hop artist Loyle Carner is lobbing around a Nerf ball to the strains of Khruangbin’s psychedelic world music, his game interrupted by a steady stream of fans asking for selfies. Later, the south Londoner will bring his personal, poetic second album Not Waving, but Drowning to the same stage.

Set over sprawling Suffolk fields in the height of summer, Latitude is a perennially pleasant festival, rain or shine. And there is a discombobulating mix of the two this weekend – bursts of searing sun give way to such severe thunderstorms that stages have to be temporarily closed. Minutes later, the sun is back in business.

Those acts performing in the tents benefit the most from this ambivalent weather – smaller ones, like northern Irish folk band Lonesome George, whose performances throughout the weekend are never busier than during a deluge, and those in the bigger tents, such as Jenny Lewis, who nonchalantly provides one of the best sets of the weekend. Dressed in a sequinned gown and matching sunglasses, the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman combines Fifties soul singer sass with rock star swagger, delicately tracing an invisible line with her finger one moment, standing on a box and throwing her arms up in the air the next. “I wrote that for a friend who went off of his medicine,” she smirks after “Do Si Do”, from her brilliant fourth album On the Line. “Not a good idea.”

George Ezra is a fittingly affable first night headliner, reeling off his baritone barbecue bops on a stage made up to resemble a living room. “Ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to dance,” he says ahead of “Blame It on Me”, a picture of politeness. And dance they do.

But what a strange headliner Lana Del Rey turns out to be – not so much because of her performance as how she seems to divide the crowd. Everywhere but at the very front, it is perhaps the sparsest, most indifferent audience I have ever seen for a festival headliner (I can’t vouch for second night headliners Stereophonics, because I was dancing at the Disco Shed instead). But head further in and it is by far the loudest.

Del Rey, who has the potent but passive charisma of an old Hollywood film star, inspires an almost cult-like reverence from those who have stood at the barrier all day clutching Born to Die records. It is to these fans that the 34-year-old is performing. Flanked by palm trees, she opens with that album’s woozy title track, changing the line “let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain” to something more X-rated. During “Blue Jeans”, she steps off the stage and into the crowd, spending what feels like an age signing vinyl and magazines, taking selfies (one male fan decides to plant a sudden kiss on her cheek, to disapproving murmurs from the crowd) and accepting gifts. Those she touches almost faint in ecstasy. “I’ve got The Great Gatsby and Sylvia Plath,” she announces of her gifts when she’s back on the stage, with convincing enthusiasm.

Del Rey is an enthralling presence. Written off seven years ago – after an extremely shaky Saturday Night Live performance – as a flash in the pan, she has more than proven herself by now. There is staying power in her languid, out-of-its-time Americana, and tonight she performs it with glamour and conviction. Her voice – soft and breathy, more purr than powerhouse – fills the air like smoke in an old saloon bar.

But by the end, the climactic confetti falls onto a crowd who have long since disappeared. It’s the last night, I suppose. Maybe they’re getting ahead of the traffic.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in