Latitude 2009

Dylan packs out comedy tent. Annuals. Bat For Lashes

Michael Bonner

Something of a full afternoon, I have to report. So busy, in fact, I've only just got round to my first beer of the day. But, happily, I also had my first Latitude highlight: Bat For Lashes.

Earlier, I caught Annuals. Hailing from Raleigh, North Carolina they whip up a kind of Arcade Fire style racket, much bashing of anything that comes to hand and post-apocalyptic wailing.

They have two drummers, also, which adds to the momentum, while singer Adam Baker -- in a waistcoat and sporting a straggly beard -- throws himself into the songs. You have to admire their rather puppyish enthusiasm as they tear through each track, but they lack the Fire's rather more compelling vision.

I make a point of trying to catch Dylan Moran in the Comedy Arena, but it's impossible to get within a mile of it. It's rammed, and this is only at 3 in the afternoon.

So, instead, here's:

FIVE RANDOM T-SHIRTS SPOTTED BETWEEN 3.15 AND 3.30 WHILE LOITERING AROUND THE COMEDY ARENA:

** Beer Fairy (green, M XL)
** Neil Young -- Harvest (beige, M M)
** Insbruck 1976 (green, M S)
** "Your favourite band sucks" (black, M L)
** The Goonies (blue with red braiding, M M)

And now, to the main stage for Bat For Lashes, aka Natasha Kahn and her striking collection of songs. She appears wearing a black dress with a skeleton print, a gold head dress and streaks of gold and blue on her face. "Sorry I'm wearing such a dull outfit," she says, somewhat inexplicably. "I was expecting rain."

The songs are beguiling and idiosyncratic and comparisons with Kate Bush or Bjork are, perhaps, inevitable. I'm even reminded, on a song called "Sarah", of an early Eurhythmics' track, "Jennifer". She comes on to a sussurus of violin effects, waving little bells on a chain. We get ju-ju rhythms, harpsichords and, at one point, she's even banging a pole on the stage. There's also some strange old wooden box she manipulates. Quite what it does, or what it's called, I don't know, but it's all very dramatic, very atmospheric.

The set, sadly, gets cut down - piano problems, it seems. Excellent stuff, though.

Anyway, off to try and catch some of the Hold Steady before Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Back later.


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