19th July saw Lindz & myself take a 6 hour round trip to Suffolk, to see the Manic Street Preachers perform at the Latitude Festival. I had never been to this festival before, so I was quite looking forward to seeing what it had to offer. Lindz, on the other hand had previously been to the 1st Latitude Festival, when Nicky played a memorable set here, as part of his solo tour.
When we arrived on site, I could straight away see that it was a very family friendly site, with lots of children of various ages accompanying their parents. I felt that this was so good to see, as not many festivals appear to be that family friendly and it is a good way for parents to introduce their children to such events. There was also a lot of choice when it comes to food, catering for all types of diets and needs.
We set up camp at the barrier of the Obelisk Arena, which is where the Manics would be playing. Sadly, not headlining, as I believe that the days of them headlining are now behind us. They were the last act on before the headliner, which this year was Noel Gallagher.
The first act of the day Was Gareth Malone and his choir. Gareth has had much TV success with the choir shows he has been a part of, which has endeared him to the public and today this was not hard to see why. He informed the crowd that a lot of the 150 strong choir was comprised of festival goers that he auditioned on site. If the choir members were nervous, they certainly did not let this show. A large crowd, mainly comprising of friends and family of the performers had gathered, to lend their support and see what the choir had to offer. Starting off with an acapella version of the Huey Lewis 80s classic “The Power Of Love” (from one of my all time favourite films “Back To The Future”), the choir continued, with various singers having their turn to take the lead and shine. Gareth really knows how to spot potential and bring out the best in people and he has certainly found some great talent here. He also has a knack for taking a well known song and giving a unique spin on it, as he did with “The Power Of Love” and the set closer, a stunning version of the Ben E. King classic “Stand By Me”. Gareth then took over the lead for their final song of the set, “You’ve Got A Friend In Me” from the film “Toy Story”. Props not only to Gareth, for putting together such a talented choir, but also to the 15 year old girl, who sang lead on the Children In Need single. If ever you see Gareth & his choir are scheduled to perform at an event near you, I highly recommend that you go and watch them. You will not be disappointed.
Next on were Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens. The backing singers really had such powerful voices & harmonies, which really rounded out the sound of this act.
Next on were a band that were the first crowd puller of the day – The Boomtown Rats, still led by Bob Geldof, who reminded us of what it was that made him famous in the first place. Personally, I have always had a lot of respect and admiration for the humanitarian work he has done over the years with Band Aid, Live Aid etc and it is a shame that he has also had his fair share of personal tragedies to deal with. The crowd that had gathered to watch the band were largely those who were old enough to remember the band in their heyday and they enjoyed every minute of the set, which comprised largely of old favourites, including the classic “I Don’t Like Mondays”, which saw a mass sing along, with the band briefly pausing the song after the line “and the lesson today is how to die”. Bob pranced around the stage like a man possessed, at one point berating the crowd at a festival that was labelled “a middle class festival”, for wearing “Sunday shorts and T-shirts”, whilst he dressed for the occasion in a fake snakeskin suit.
Edith Bowman appeared on stage next, to announce the winner of the Sky Arts TV programme “Guitar Star” (http://www.sky.com/tv/show/guitar). The 3 judges of the show, which included Huey Morgan (Fun Lovin’ Criminals), & Nitin Sawnhey spoke about the winner, who was eventually named and took to the stage to show why he was declared the winner. This should be shown on TV. You might spot us on the barrier.
Another big crowd puller was next – Seasick Steve. I was aware of the name, but not the music. He has been a regular of Jools Holland’s TV shows, as it was thanks to him that Seasick Steve got the break he had been trying to get. Fans young and old were lapping up his brand of rock & blues. At one point, he selected a young girl to sit on stage with him, so that he could sing a love song to her Looking at the age difference between the pair (she can’t have been any older than 16, 17), it did look a bit creepy.
Next on were Warpaint. I was not familiar with them at all and I was not too fussed about them. After a while I was bored rigid and just wanted the next band to be on…..
….Who just so happened to be the reason why we travelled across country for – the Manics. Throughout the day, we were both wondering what set they would perform. Would it be the usual “safe” festival set list of greatest hits, that they have been renowned for playing in the past? We guessed that “Motorcycle Emptiness” would open proceedings, but what we didn’t expect was how many curveballs we would be hit with, the first being “Jackie Collins Existential Question Time”, which Nicky dedicated to their missing bandmate Richey Edwards. Throughout their set, James & Nicky were smiling and the crowd that had gathered to watch them sang along to every word and doing the obligatory shouty/pointy as if their lives depended on it. Hearing new favourites such as “Walk Me To The Bridge”, along with surprises such as “From Despair To Where”, “The Masses Against The Classes”, “Removables” and “Sex, Power, Love And Money” were very pleasing to hear amongst the usual suspects of “You Stole The Sun From My Heart” and “You Love Us”. Throughout the set, James was in fine voice, looking very smart in his pin striped suit and he appears to be looking trim. I guess he is in training for his sponsored trek in Patagonia later this year. Nicky meanwhile was grinning constantly and appeared to be enjoying their set. He also reminded us that he was a veteran of the first Latitude festival, which Lindz was at and gave an approving cheer. I’m surprised Nicky had such good recollections of his set here, seeing as he was very drunk that day. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and James was introducing the usual set closer, “A Design For Life” by encouraging us to “eat fruit loops, have a barbecue and sex” (if James is included, count me in!). All in all, it was good to see the band play a set list filled with surprises and not just the usual festival set list that they have relied upon in the past. It wasn’t surprising to see no songs from “The Holy Bible” represented, as this looks like this has now been put to bed.
It was then time for the headliner, ex Oasis man Noel Gallagher. Not surprisingly, a huge crowd had gathered, who seemed to be up for it (or should that be madferrit?). This is when we left Latitude to go home. I was not bothered, as I was not an Oasis fan, but saying that, Noel is clearly the brains of the outfit and not as gobby or annoying as his brother Liam. We also had a 3 hour journey home.
Thank you to Latitude for hosting such a great, family friendly festival in such lovely surroundings.
To Lindz for the spare ticket, lift to & from the festival and being such great company.
Lastly, to Messers Wire, Moore, Bradfield & Edwards. The reason why we travelled miles on a 6 hour round trip, watched some good (& some not so good) bands to watch you deliver a cracking set.