Latitude 2009

Hola From Latitude (2)

Michael Bonner

It’s an early start for everyone today, so not long after what seems like daybreak I am making my way down the leafy trail to the Uncut Arena to see Wildbirds And Peacedrums, about whom a I know as much as I do the internal working of the combustion engine. On my unsteady way, I notice a sign someone’s pinned to a tree that say I LOVE YOU MORE THAN MY RECORD COLLECTION, a declaration of affection so passionate it must be an exaggeration.

My determined march towards the Uncut Arena is further delayed when I call in at the Poetry Tent, where a blonde woman at a Perspex lectern, whose name it turns out is Molly Naylor, is reciting a poem, part of which is about her discovery of her “inner Marxist”.

This makes a change from yesterday when at whatever point I dropped by people in cardigans were reading poems which consisted mainly of descriptions of urban blight as metaphor for the urban condition or else waxing nostalgically about the bands whose music they loved in their youth, which unanimously seems to have been The Smiths.

There is serial mention, too, in their verse, of Ikea, apparently the very essence of evil in the modern world, unless I have got hold of the wrong end of their poetic schtick.

Wildbirds And Peacedrums, meanwhile, turn out to be a young woman in a black lace top, satin mini-skirt and lime green tights banging a cowbell and shrieking loud enough to wake the dead (successfully so in my case) while her partner, a bluff young cove with a beard, smacks seven colours of hell out of a customised drum kit. It’s bracing stuff so soon after breakfast, but enthusiastically-received by a surprisingly large crowd, not all of whom can be sheltering from the drizzle that’s just started to fall outside.

Their next number, which is something, I think, called “I Am Lost Without Your Rhythm”, is noticeably quieter – not exactly hymnal, but at least not quite so much like the sound of the brick-by-brick demolition of a factory chimney.

They end quite strikingly with a testifying blues, a chain-gang holler, something that may originally have been recorded at Parchman Farm in the crackly 20s, a hint also here of a plantation gospel, the ghosts of slavery calling. It ends, deafeningly. At which point, it strikes me that 20 years ago these people would have ended up on the cover of Melody Maker after one single and a limited edition cassette, raved over by The Stud Brothers, David Stubbs and other champions of the noisily eccentric.

On my way back to the Uncut HQ at the Latitude press tent to write this, I drop by the Literary tent where there’s a very serious debate taking place on the subject of TABLOID CULTURE: IS OUR NEWS MEDIA WALKING A NEW STREET OF SHAME?

According to a solemn-looking man in a cardigan who I’m sure I once gave a guinea for a copy of The Big Issue, it is.

Allan Jones


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