Latitude 2009

Howling Bells close down Sunrise Arena with aplomb

It's a criminal shame that one of the finest bands to come out of the planet's lower end should play to a half-empty tent. Australian indie charmers Howling Bells were more than up to the challenge, proving unequivocally that a voice like a loudhailer channelling angels can overcome anything – even having Arcade Fire as their audience competition.

With much of the crowd hunkered around the Obelisk stage waiting for the warbling Canucks (more fool them and their failure to multi-task efficiently) it's to the Bells' credit that they played their headline slot on the Sunrise stage like it was their last night on Earth, and not just their tour.

Tracks from last year's self-titled debut album were mixed with the occasional new taster, leading to a quest from singer Juanita Stein to find a title for a new track ("Erm, it’s a love song about someone I hate"). The majority of Juanita-struck boys in the crowd might explain the overwhelming preference for titles name-dropping 70s bands rather than flowers and feelings. "Hmm. Come and see me afterwards I think," she says diplomatically after someone shrieks "T-Rex!", before doing the musician's equivalent of coughing loudly and ignoring the whole thing: playing another song.

"Broken Bones" elicits the best heckle we've heard all weekend – a bellow of "SUPERB!" from the back rows – and by the time the set ends with a gorgeous "Low Happening", the tent and people littered around the edges are grinning like they've been covered with £20 notes. A wonderful close to a stage that has consistently rolled out some of Latitude's best sets all weekend - well done those Bells.

Words: Kat Brown


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