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Henham Park once again provided the backdrop for one of the UK’s most eclectic and immersive festival experiences, as enthusiasts of all arts revelled in the sights and sounds of Latitude Festival 2017.
Melvin Benn, MD of Festival Republic said:
“Latitude 2017 has been one of the best, and most certainly the biggest Latitude yet – we welcomed 40,000 people to Henham Park this year. The 1975 gave a phenomenal debut headline performance on Friday night. Mumford and Sons and their Gentlemen of the Road Takeover brought with it so many memorable performances – notably their headline set which was simply unforgettable. Fleet Foxes rounded off the weekend in the only way they know how – it was stunning. Yet again, I’m blown away by our Latitude audience, who were treated to the finest in music, arts, theatre, comedy and literature. I can’t wait to see you all again next year.”
Temperatures rose on Thursday night as Hot Brown Honey kicked off the theatre programming. At The SpeakEasy, Bang Said The Gun and Tim Key represented the vanguard of performance poetry and the stage took an erotic turn with popular podcast My Dad Wrote A Porno. Sick of The Fringe tackled an altogether more serious subject with Austerity Cuts as part of a virtual Wellcome Trust Arena takeover and Blue Boy Entertainment christened an effervescent Waterfront Stage with a display of hip-hop theatre with The Get Down.
Friday saw one of the UK’s biggest breakout bands of the last decade; The 1975 make their Obelisk Arena headline debut by bringing their current chapter of I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It to a close before announcing their new feat, Music For Cars to the captivated audience. Friday’s Obelisk revellers were also spoiled with earlier sets from the likes of electro pop royalty Goldfrapp and the pitch black indie of The Horrors.
Topping the bill at the BBC Music Stage were the iconic Placebo who provided a career-spanning, crowd-pleasing set which enthralled both die-hard fans and newcomers, whilst the tent was awash with shoegaze noise from RIDE and East Anglian native Beth Orton.
There was plenty to discover on day one across the Latitude bill as Australia’s Julia Jacklin offered a soundtrack of melancholic alt-country for fans looking to start their Latitude experience early. At the Sunrise Arena, Norway’s next big thing Sigrid showed why everyone’s talking about her as the crowd spilled out into the woods. Over at The Lake Stage, curated by BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, a back to back performance by Shame and HMLTD whipped the audience into frenzy.
Latitude’s arts stages were full of highlights including BalletBoyz who rounded off a UK Tour of their outstanding, provocative and dazzling Life. on The Waterfront Stage. Latitude’s renowned comedy programme featured the unstoppable Susan Calman, and in a return visit, Dara O’Briain rounded off the first day with a storming headliner Comedy set.
In Theatre, MANWATCHING tested Seann Walsh’s literacy skills by delving into the realm of female desire and Charlie Fink’s collaboration with playwright David Grieg brought audiences along on his musical journey storytelling-through-song project Cover My Tracks. In The SpeakEasy Dom Joly gave Latitude an interactive glimpse into his social media and showbiz adventures whereas in the Wellcome Trust Arena, a discussion about immunity and the health revolution raged on. Kevin Spacey Foundation for Dance winner Holly Blakey drew The Waterfront programme for Friday to a close with energy, vulnerability and transgression in Some Greater Class. Friday also featured a very special Will Young double bill: a SpeakEasy Q&A titled The Art of Listening and a capacity filled Cabaret Arena jazz jam session. In Cabaret Daniella Isaacs gave wellness a two-fingered salute with Hear Me Raw.
Saturday saw Mumford and Sons bring their curated Gentlemen of the Road line up to a sold out Latitude Festival. Collaboration was the order of the day as the headliners coupled their towering folk rock anthems with guest appearances by handpicked GOTR acts Baaba Maal, Maggie Rogers, Leon Bridges, Lucy Rose, Gill Landry, Kevin Garrett and The Very Best.
Impressive sets came from festival newcomers throughout the day, with Declan McKenna filling the BBC Music Stage to the rafters, Jorja Smith effortlessly dazzling the audience with her R&B sounds on The Lake Stage and the raucous IDLES who, not content with a ferocious, well-attended set on the Lake Stage proceeded to lead fans up to the BBC Music Introducing stage for a secret set.
The Obelisk Arena received a special performance by Two Door Cinema Club who left no hit unaired, whilst the BBC Music stage saw the debut festival performance by Ben Howard’s mysterious A Blaze of Feather and a phenomenal final Saturday night set from Jack Garratt.
Sunday’s Theatre included Gary McNair’s Locker Room Talk; a politically potent verbatim piece inspired by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which was carried through in political activist and satirist Barry Crimmins’ Comedy Arena set. Notes of a Native Song provoked serious thought and positive action; and the legendary Benjamin Zephaniah treated Latitude to a preview of his latest, savagely political album Revolutionary Minds in the Music and Film Arena.
It was a full house for Linton Kwesi Johnson with his rhythmic rhymes after Colm Tobin had captivated The SpeakEasy audience to a reading and discussion of his latest novel House of Names. In Cabaret, Nabakov celebrated London’s disappearing nightlife in Last Night, whilst Vanessa Kisulle’s one woman show tackled the who’s, why’s and how’s of being Sexy. There was an animated Q&A in the Music and Film Arena following a screening of Daisy Asquith’s extraordinary documentary Queerama, whilst Sadler’s Wells brought Matthew Bourne’s earliest work Country to the Waterfront.
Early risers on Sunday witnessed a performance that perfectly encapsulated the magic of Latitude, as Katherine Jenkins took to the Waterfront stage for a stunning headliner worthy lunchtime slot. Arriving at the stage via gondola, a packed out 360 degree crowd were treated to a wealth of classics from the Welsh songstress, alongside surprise covers such as Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’ and Clean Bandit’s ‘Symphony’.
Show stopping sets across the final day of Latitude Festival came from Loyle Carner, Temples, Ibibio Sound Machine, Fatboy Slim and many more, with a host of legends including Mavis Staples and John Cale taking to the stage later in the day ahead of a mesmerising headline performance by Sunday night headliners, Fleet Foxes. Playing from their critically acclaimed new album Crack Up and their stunning back catalogue, the folk rock icons provided the perfect end to Latitude 2017.
Sunday saw a packed out Comedy Arena for superstars Simon Amstell and Katherine Ryan and The Waterfront Stage was overflowing with exceptional talent as National Youth Dance Company and 2017 BBC Young Dancer finalists proved the bright future for UK dance. The SpeakEasy showcased the breadth of women’s literary genius at Stories for Rebel Girls, where 2017 Bailey Prize-winning Naomi Alderman (The Power), Elif Shafak (Daughters of Eve) and Catherine Mayer (Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman) talked about the rise and rise of popular feminist writing, and recent Ted Hughes’ Prize winner Hollie McNish beguiled the crowd in The SpeakEasy finale with her Picador Poetry debut Plum. On the Theatre bill Middle Child’s All We Ever Wanted Was Everything and Paul Barritt’s Cat and Mouse gave audiences two very different takes on gig-theatre, whilst the Wellcome Trust Arena was full of surprises with topics ranging from philosophy to rehabilitation.
The Faraway Forest delivered richly layered and diverse experiences including Opera North’s beguiling Underworld installation, Paines Plough’s Come to Where I’m From where writers read work they have written about the places they belong to, Unlimited Theatre’s midlife crisis show How I Hacked My Way Into Space and Dr Joe Latimer, Dr Sarah Withers and Dr Ian Goodhead who gave festival goers the opportunity to read their DNA live.
As the sun sets on this year’s festival, sights are already set on 2018 when Latitude will return to Henham Park in July for its 13th edition. Tickets for Latitude Festival 2018 will be available from 10am on Thursday 20th July.
For more information, highlights, photos and more, check out www.latitudefestival.com.