Monday, July 27, 2015

Latitude Festival 2015 Day 1

1) Caribou 9/10
The undoubted highlight of day 1 was the Canadian electronic act Caribou, who headlined the main stage in the sunset slot, despite at first sight appearing more suited to the BBC 6 Music Tent. This not overly extrovert act’s appeal was to draw you in through the music and lighting, rather than through stagecraft, which was relatively static, but I was mesmerised.

2) Alt-J 8/10
Alt-J proved to be a relative disappointment after their set at Primavera in May, though in truth even then they made little overt effort to engage the audience.  Here, the young, boisterous crowd at the front of the stage served to distract from concentration on the intricate music. Live, they recreated the studio sound with dexterity, accuracy and skill, but the elaborate lighting was insufficient compensation for an act that seemed to be on auto pilot.

3) Songhoy Blues 8/10
I was eager to see this band in exile from Mali following the release of their strong debut album earlier this year. The I-Arena stage was packed, but some still found space to dance, and in spite of the adversity in their homeland, this was a set of much joy and rhythmic energy. Lead singer Aliou Toure in particular exuded happiness.

4) Femi Kuti & The Postive Force 7/10
The Nigerian son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti assembled an extensive cast of musicians and dancers to accompany him. The visual interest made this an ideal afternoon outdoor festival set, and his band proved aptly named with its joy. Yet, there was a powerful political message from Kuti, in an arresting, charismatic set.

5) Ed Harcourt 7/10
The Sussex musician showed his experience on the festival circuit with direct interaction down in the crowd. There was much passion and drive in his delivery, but in contrast to Alt-J, I found the music less memorable than the stagecraft.

6) Nintin Sawhney 7/10
Nintin overcame early sound issues to produce a set as notable for his female collaborators as his guitar virtuosity. Nicki Wells assimilated an Indian micro-tone vocal style, whilst Nintin taught the audience a little Hindi, and musical styles ranged widely, from R&B to jazz and flamenco, breaking down cultural barriers in a life affirming manner.

7) Wild Beasts 5/10
The Kendal rock band disappointed,failing to inspire the crowd, and sounding routine. I later discovered that van problems meant that they'd almost missed their slot; despite making it, this wasn't to be Wild Beasts' day.

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