Latitude 2009

Hola from Latitude (3)

Michael Bonner

Anyway, I arrange to meet a friend down at the Obelisk stage to catch Broken Music, who she’s recently seen playing to about four people in Manchester but thinks will be worth having another look at.

So I’m just stepping through this little arch thing they have that you have to go through to get onto the leafy path through the trees and down the hill into the separate county, it feels like, where all the mini Latitude stages are when I’m pulled over for a random security check and asked to give my name to see if it matches the one on the laminate we are all obliged to wear.

I larkishly say Lee Harvey Oswald, which I quickly regret, not just because it’s obviously not my name but more seriously takes about 20 minutes to explain that I am actually who it says I am on said laminate and not the Lone Assassin, the Single Gunman, who from a window in the Texas Book Depository shot JFK, in the process ruining Jackie’s dress with blood stain and brain parts.

By the time I’ve cleared all this up, Broken Music have been and also gone, so Helen and I find some seats to see who’s next up on the Obelisk stage, which turns out to be The Airborne Toxic Event.

They have one thing going for them as far as I’m concerned, which is that they’ve taken their name from the Don DeLillo novel, White Noise, but Helen is keen to see them because the last couple of times they’ve played Manchester, their shows have sold out so quickly she hasn’t been able to get tickets.

Helen thinks they sound like a cross between Arcade Fire and The Killers, not a bad description. I spend most of their set struck between the resemblance of their lead singer to Robbie Williams trying to look like Born In The USA-era Bruce Springsteen while trying to sound not too much like Adam Duritz from Counting Crows. The surprisingly small crowd in front of the stage seems to like them well enough, though, so good on them.

Patrick Wolf, looking like God knows what, looms into view just as Helen has to go off on some important business and I go with her, stopping off at the Poetry Tent just in time to hear former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion read a poem called The Mower, a moving elegy to his late father that first makes me laugh out loud then get an bit teary.

I am then drawn to the Literary Tent, where Vivien Westwood has drawn a huge crowd for something billed as the Active Resistance Performance. Arriving late, I have no idea what this is all about, but she looks great, in a gown she might have worn on a Cunard liner in the 30s, on a cruise to end all cruises, icebergs permitting.

She loses me completely, though, when she starts riffing on the intrinsic values of bamboo and so here I am.

Doves are on now, with Spiritualized to follow, which means I have to as they say dash.

Allan Jones


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