EDitorial ± 24-Jul-2023

Latitude 2023

Left it late to book my Latitude ticket this year and thought I'd be making the usual solo journey (see last year). Then it turned out that friend Tom was also going along on the Friday, so offered him a lift. A week later G. announced that, being desperate to see Pulp, she'd bought a ticket together with her mate. That'll be a planet-pleasing four of us in the Polo, then. planet.

Our quarter has already split along gender lines on the long walk into the site; we gents grab a Greenpeace coffee ("Do you have oat milk?" "That's all we offer.") and enjoy the lo-fi stylings of Metronmony keyboard player Oscar Cash, noodling on a Shuttleworth-esque Yamaha. Shall we try number 79, Folk Baroque? Most relaxing start. Checking my app, as everyone does relentlessly, I see that Laser Kiwi, a surreal sketch circus that was on my list, has somehow shifted from 4pm to midday. No way I'm going to make it into the far-off theatre in time. Oh well.

I catch a few upbeat tunes from sister and brother Olivia and Will in the Wasia Project before yomping away to find some writing event called We're All Poets. I'm trying to find the Faraway Forest, I ask the stewards. Dunno, mate, they say. Tried the map on the app? Which says I'm here among the trees: maybe the poets are creatively camouflaged? Back past the panoply of food stalls to picnic rug central, aka the grass area by the mighty Obelisk stage. Playing are Tinariwen, the Mali masters of desert blues. Quite like 'em, up their in their Star Wars planet outfits, and then their shuffling jam takes hold of me and won't let go and I have to stay for the whole set. Best part of an hour later and they're off. Tremendous.

Finally have the will to make the short walk to the stripey BBC Sounds tent for the final half-hour of Do Nothing. Powerful stuff ticking my art rock and post punk boxes, and with frontman Chris snarling in a suit. Realise I've screwed up the timing for An Evening with Christopher Bliss so it's over the water into The Alcove for a coupla psychedelic tunes from Max Fulcrum and The Win. Would have loved to linger but my belly needs a large £13 falafel wrap to consume while standing near the "performance interpreting" section, back in BBC Sounds, as The Murder Capital do their excitable show. Wondering where the main man is from my side-on view, I realise he's in the crowd, again.

Once again across a bridge for the opening few numbers by hotly tipped The Last Dinner Party, a female quintet already getting in the crowds. Most promising but that schedule demands I make another attempt to locate the Faraway Forest. Didn't you ask us before? says that same steward. At which point I bump into G., who's also here to watch Ben Moor, wherever he may be, and her mate S., who needs a nap. That tall weird guy in the jumper and small clearing is our man, we gather, and he'll be doing his Fringe show Who Here's Lost? Which is funny and clever and sad and compels me to buy the book a day later. Nice to sit down on the grass; not so nice to get up again 45 minutes later. S.'s attempts to grab forty winks were thwarted multiple times by kindly passers-by enquiring if she was alright. Latitude, the caring festival.

Another farewell to my wife as I walk by Luke Wright in the Listening Post on my way to spiky Dry Cleaning with Florence Shaw dressed in red declaiming in her near-constant straight face while her band puts in a shift. Great, though I'd have appreciated running subtitles, and good to see her smile at the end. And there's Tom, unseen since midday, so time for a sit-down soft drink. I fancy Panic Shack but there's a queue for The Alcove. Not for me, ta.

As the Human League once sand, there's "decisions to be made". I um and I ah and I locate a coffee-and-brownie stand to buy a coffee-and-brownie then take my coffee-and-brownie to the Obelisk, there to grab a spot for Metronomy. I loved their English Riviera album that came out in 2011 and have heard pretty much nothing since then. Enjoyed their show, their only UK appearance in 2023 (!), aided by their smiling female drummer.

They finished. Nobody moved. In fact, others surged forward. Why? 'Cos Pulp were due on stage next and that was the hot ticket. How were they? Awesome and worth the £93 alone, I'd suggest. By my reckoning the last time I'd seen them was at Cambridge Corn Exchange in March 1992, over 30 years ago, when they were supporting The Fall. My hazy memory is that we -- me and Jeff -- experienced them for one song then went to the bar. Lights, confetti, an orchestra, big tunes, and that man Jarvis. Particulary loved This Is Hardcore. Show over and curfew at 11pm, a mass of humanity all around, and we all somehow managed to meet at the L-A-T-I-T-U-D-E sign around 11:30am for the slow walk back with hot chocs all round. Easily found the car between us and mostly beat the queues getting out.

...and still missed The Beths, Connie Constance and English Teacher.