The Big One - Latitude 2009

United Kingdom United Kingdom | by Ben Rust | 14 July 2009

What is it?
Set in the beautiful surroundings of Henham Park in Suffolk for three more days of mix and match as you like culture, music and the arts.  With easily the most eclectic line-up of the summer, (where else can you listen to the poetry of Simon Armitage, catch up on the Bard with The Royal Shakespeare Company and round out the day listening to the scuzzy rock Of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds?), Latitude is much more than a few days laying drunk in a field listening to NME’s next big things, even though you can always do that if you’re that way inclined.  

Where and when?
The event runs from the 16-19 July and is held in Henham Park, Southwold, in Suffolk.  Once you spot the famous dyed sheep you’ll know you’re there.

Who to watch?

Grace Jones (Saturday – Obelisk Arena)

Rare headline performance from the Amazonian High Priestess of glam disco, Grace promises a spectacular show.  Expect high drama, countless elaborate costume changes and some true classics (Pull Up To The Bumper Baby…) to get everyone moving.  A chance to see a true legend doing what she does best, don’t miss her.

Vivienne Westwood (Literary Arena)

Another legend decamping to the Suffolk countryside for the weekend, Westwood is the fashionista’s designer and was the muse and designer of the punk movement.  No indication yet as to what she’ll be getting up to, but if she lets slip just a few anecdotes from her many years at the forefront of punk it’ll be worth it.  Plus, she was there, man, she was there…   

Speech Debelle (The Lake Stage)

Much feted Female UK rapper with an autobiographical confessional tone and some big beats.  Courted by the likes of Roots Manuva, it will be a chance to go and see what the fuss is about.

The XX (The Lake Stage)

Four youngsters dressed in black?  Check.  Sullen faces?  Check.  Basement rock ‘n roll ripping off The Libertines?  Not quite.  The XX are a much more intriguing proposition than the majority of rent a mob indie bands that flesh out festival bills up and down the country.  With nods to dubstep and R&B that belay the fact they went to school with Four Tet, Burial and Hot Chip, The XX could be the surprise band of the festival.  

Mark Lamarr presents God’s Jukebox (Music and Film Arena)

The dapper ex-Shooting Star and erstwhile radio host has a deep knowledge and respect for reggae and dub at odds with that bloody rockabilly quiff.  This will be one of the best places to keep on partying after the other arena’s close, plus last year The Buzzcocks made a surprise appearance so you never know who might turn up this time.  

One to miss

Little Boots (Sunrise Arena)

After a lacklustre Glastonbury performance Little Boots really needs to pull something special out of the bag to wow the sophisticated Latitude crowd, I doubt she can step up to the mark.  

Playing a rare festival date

Thom Yorke (Sunday – Obelisk Arena) 

An acoustic solo outing from the Radiohead frontman and a real coup for Latitude, this midday show promises to be one of the highlights of the festival.

Inside tip

Pulled Apart By Horses (The Lake Stage)

Leeds four-piece with a nice line in punishing riffs, double-kick drums and great song titles, “E=MC Hammer” anyone?  These guys are amazing live and well worth checking out if you fancy a bit of filth after spending all day in The Poetry Arena.  

Be at Latitude if you like…

Culture, good music, great books and dyed sheep.  Latitude is one of the most un-ashamedly High-Brow of the summer’s festivals and will give your brain a work out as well as your ears.  It’s also one of the most family friendly festivals going, and has green credentials to give the most eco-friendly Guardian reader a warm (carbon neutral) glow.  

Avoid if you like…

Moshing, setting tents on fire, throwing your bodily fluids at bands that don’t adhere strictly to your narrow definition of what music should be.  Only six weeks until Reading and Leeds guys, save it for then.  

Festival tactics

Make a plan and try to catch acts over all the arenas.  This could be your only chance to see the Sadler’s Wells Dance Company, Jo Brand, Jonathan Coe, Andrew Motion and the Pet Shop Boys all in one day, don’t waste it.

Fashionista or Folky? 
Neither.  Bookish types with the Guardian under one arm and a battered Murakami under the other are the order of the day.  A sophisticated crowd of all ages and numerous kids called things like India running around after them.  You’re more likely to meet your local MP than a wasted 16 year old who’s just finished their GCSE’s and are celebrating by drinking their body weight in Strongbow, as I said, Reading isn’t far off, calm yourself.  

Alcohol of choice

A G&T darling, ice and a slice (of lime) please.  

Take your mum score…

8/10 – If your mum loves her books, the theatre, opera, dance and a carefully crafted line-up of classy acts with some modern twists thrown in she’ll be in heaven.  

Can I still get tickets?
There are still tickets available through the official Latitude Website.

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Send to my phone!Photographer: Lisa Rocket

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