Thursday, July 21, 2011

Variety is the festival word

One of the things that I find hardest to do when thinking about writing about festivals is to devise some hopefully coherent plot.  That difficulty is actually also one of the great selling points of the very same festivals - the bewildering variety to be found there.  It is perhaps no surprise that 'Thoughts on Music' is a blog title that conveniently makes it quite difficult to go totally off-message!
Here are a few pictures, all from Latitude 2011 but in no particular order, of acts that I saw on the tented 'Word Stage' and all of which I particularly enjoyed.  Last year I spent a disproportionate time in front of the Lake Stage but this year very little in comparison. I spent it here instead.

The Naked and Famous, from New Zealand.
Tirelessly energetic and incredibly tight - it is hard to credit that this time last year they were all but unheard of beyond their distant home-shores. The début album 'Passive Me, Aggressive You' has certainly carved them a home from home and a well deserved live following.
The reliable half of a totally unpredictable, but equally legendary, musical partnership.
Carl Barât and his own band finished with something you just knew they couldn't resist!
There were plenty of those hats in tribute to HMP Peter Doherty but no delays, no bust-ups, just a thoroughly professional and entertaining set. The new solo material was very interesting too but equally I had failed to realize how good the 'Dirty Pretty Things'-era Barât material would sound live. That cello wasn't included as a nod to current trends; it played a major part in the structure of the sound.
More assuredly in the traditional and acoustic theme was Bellowhead. It is true that it is a 'marmite' band in that those who do not like it tend to do so with a passion. I am not one of them.
In my opinion they can do no wrong and, given this performance, I believe that I am right.
I should have taken this differently as I only managed to include nine of the eleven band members.

The next is another band that I have seen before at Latitude (in 2008, I think). If you are going to make quirky indie guitar rock then the best way to do it is with absolute conviction but on the face of it there seems to be nothing remotely unusual doing here.
You may not make as many fans that way but, as British Sea Power amply demonstrates, the ones you do will be equally passionate and quirky too. The fascination with greenery goes back to the earliest days of the band, though don't ask me why. For those wondering about the return of guitar bands in 2011 this is one to make you realize that they never really went away.

Last but not least, in what is still a far from complete synopsis of the acts I saw on the Word Stage last weekend, is James Vincent McMorrow.
These songs were mostly from the 2011 album 'Early In The Morning'. If you think that it is good (and it is) then live it is just something else.

1 comment:

elvislives77 said...

Cheers for review Rich. Caught some of it on Sky Arts. Really enjoyed The National. Hadn't heard them before (don't get out much). Seen a couple of great bands recently. Dark Dark Dark and Sea of Bees. I strongly recommend them.

Went to free Americana Festival at Sage at Gateshead yesterday and saw Chris Scruggs and Justin Townes Earle.

Going to see Low Anthem at on 15 August. Should be good.

Unfortunately messed up EOTR. Sold out. Haven't given hope of buying ticket. If you hear of one going spare and they are willing to sell at face value..........