Henham [Park, Suffolk
July 19 -21
★★★★ (out of five)
THE worst part of a festival, other than that eye watering chemical smell in the portaloos, is surely the journey there and back.
But last Friday festival goers making the trip to the scenic grounds of Henham Park in Suffolk for Latitude 2013 had a particularly bad start when all trains from Liverpool Street station were cancelled due to a trespasser on the line.
Once the 55,000 campers and day trippers arrived, you could have been forgiven for thinking you were at Coachella rather than Latitude. It wasn’t so much a case of struggling through mud baths in wellies as contending with dust and heat.
Some of Friday’s highlights included headliners on the Obelisk Arena, Bloc Party. An emotional set from the British boys marking their last gig before they disappear on ‘hiatus’, but they delivered a storming performance nonetheless.
Song for Clay (Disappear Here) followed by the blistering Helicopter whipped the laid back crowd up. After a display like that, let’s hope it’s not the last time they play together.
Apart from the music, there was plenty theatre, dance and comedy across 22 stages to get involved in. And for those who like festivals with a little cheese, there was a roller disco and guilty pleasures (I won’t tell we danced to Hanson and R Kelly if you don’t). The comedy tent had an impressive line up too, but was too small to cope with the demand for big names like Dylan Moran, Eddie Izzard, and popular newcomers like Josh Widdicome.
On Saturday, musical highlights came in the form of Alt-J, who played to a huge crowd in the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage and got an ecstatic reaction from the younger demographic.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been in blistering form of late and front woman Karen O gave a lesson in charisma on Saturday evening. Maps was heartfelt and haunting, while Despair, from the latest album Mosquito, left no one in any doubt that they were witnessing some musical genius.
Next up were Hot Chip, who stole the show by doing what they do best and getting everyone on their feet. Anyone who wasn’t dancing by the time they played Over and Over mustn’t have a pulse.
If there was one over hyped act of the weekend, it was Kraftwerk. With much anticipation and the crowds armed with 3-D glasses, Saturday’s headliners fell flat for me.
On the final day, James Blake deserves honourable mention for delivering a dark but beautiful, trance-like at times, performance to a crowd of lazy Sunday afternoon sunbathers.
They say save the best for last, and with a lights, a laser show and lightening guitars Sunday’s main event – Foals – did just that.
The crowd were blown away by the energy and enthusiasm the indie Oxford band brought to stage, not to mind lead man Yannis Philippakis impressive crowd surfing guitar solo.
After ending on such a high, many late night partiers headed to the Late Night Arena in the woods for more dancing, but at least no one had to endure packing their camping gear in the rain the next morning.
For once at a festival, the weather was as good as the music, and it made a nice change to come home with a tan instead of trench foot.