Latitude 2009

Cherry Ghost, The National

Michael Bonner

It's good to see the UNCUT Arena pretty much rammed by the time Cherry Ghost come on, just after 3pm, a lot of interest being show to this Lancashire five-piece.

I've got admit, I'm not entirely convinced. I'd hoped there'd be more sense of the experimental urges of, say, Wilco (after whose song, "Theologians", they're named) and Sparklehorse. In fact, they seemed rather too earnest for my tastes, a bit too close to Elbow, in fact, in terms of their Big, Melancholic Northern Songs.

Skipping over to the Obelisk Arena -- that's the main stage in old money -- here's The National, who're in the process of Taking Themselves Very Seriously. Singer Matt Berninger adopts a rather affected pose, his left arm clutching his right armpit, the mic held above his head. There is much intense flaying of a violin.

Everyone looks very, very intense on stage.

Which is why it's funny when three blokes stand up and start waving at the stage in a disarmingly friendly manner for pretty much the duration of the set. You've got to have fun at a festival, right?

As it is, I like The National's Alligator album, and the tracks they play off it -- "Secret Meeting", "Abel", "Mr November" -- sound fantastic. Big, sweeping songs that remind me of Echo & The Bunnymen and The Chameleons circa the Strange Times album. Berninger's baritone swoons in all the right places, clearly learned from the Stuart Stapes Handbook For Maudlin Crooners. It's good, but the songs from the new album, Boxer, seem to just replay the same hooks, everything feels a bit second hand.

They thank Andrew Bird and Cold War Kids for lending them equipment -- there's has gone missing, it seems, presumably in the barrage claim at an international airport.

So, not the best of starts today for me musically, but I'm pretty certain the Sheffield Cocker and Arcade Fire will bring Latitude to a rousing finish.

Onwards!


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