Latitude Festival Review: The Quietus Gets Saucy In Southwold

The Quietus bored by Yorke but tentage to Grace Jones, Pet Shop Boys and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at the driest wet festival of the year. Photographs by Lucy Johnston.

When coming up with the concept for Latitude, one wonders whether Festival Republic supremo Melvin Benn didn’t spend time pondering what sort of artists he’d book, nor the most effective way to deliver 14,443 copies of the Guardian promptly each morning, nor how to keep a gaggle of blond haired, Aryan children entertained while their parents were guzzling cider.

No, he dug out one of those old geological maps of the UK and, unlike every other festival organiser ever (including himself) has never done, discovered a site where the British soil is light, sandy, and well drained. The result, at this past weekend’s festival, was that the innumerable downpours disappeared into the ground, swept past the worrums, and hurried swiftly into the North Sea.

The positive consequences of this were manifold, the most obvious of which being there was no mud. Indeed, at one point the Quietus was escorted around a patch of oomska around one metre square by concerned-looking security officials. It also meant that rain could be braved and feet be lifted from the quagmire, negating the necessity to dive into a fringe event tent when the heavens opened – no slime would impede hurried escape from a comedian launching into routine with "so, bikini waxing, then…" or a poet spouting inanely about Victoria Beckham. It’s 2009, old boy!

That’s not to say that the fringe events aren’t a hugely important part of Latitude – the Radio 4 stage, secluded in the woods, was excellent, Sean Hughes (who increasingly resembles Shane McGowan’s thirsty cousin) drew a whopping crowd. Best of all were The Irrepressibles, who performed operatic pop atop a stage floating on the lake.

But the festival line-up gradually revealed itself to be one of the most interesting of the summer, refreshingly devoid of laddish beer bands, or checkshirted Americans moping with acoustic guitars (surely the 1998 vintage Britpop of the 50 States). Instead, from Grace Jones to the Pet Shop Boys, The XX to Patrick Wolf, Tricky to Of Montreal, and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds to Wild Beasts, it was a bunch of boys and girls you wouldn’t throw out of bed in hurry who’d made the trip to rural Suffolk . . .

Click Grace Jones below to read the Quietus Latitude Festival review featuring Of Montreal, Fever Ray, Blue Roses, Pet Shop Boys, Wildbirds and Peacedrums, Joe Gideon & The Shark, Patrick Wolf, The XX, Grace Jones, Thom Yorke, I Like Trains, Wild Beasts, Tricky and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. All photographs by Lucy Johnston.

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