Another Textbook Latitude

Over the years it’s had some criticism for being a left-field affair where everyone in the crowd owns at least one 4WD, but the ninth edition of Latitude showed it’s also a blueprint on how to build a successful festival within a decade. 


Maybe it’s having The Guardian as a media partner that’s made some people feel Latitude is for people who eat muesli out of a wok. The New Statesman, a weekly political and culture magazine with a distinctly left-wing focus, is another media partner.

The 35,000-capacity gathering on the UK’s Suffolk coast is now pretty well guaranteed to sell out, although Latitude founder and Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn looks loathe to make this remarkable niche fest any bigger.

A glance across the program shows why Benn contends he should pay less PRS because there’s much more to his festival than just music.

Lily Allen was apparently one of the highlights of Latitude, playing her first headline slot at a festival when filling in at the last minute for Two Door Cinema Club.

“Lily stepping in at the last minute to deliver the set of her life to a huge and appreciative crowd was awesome as was Damon [Albarn] conducting the lightning from the main stage during his set. Everything was perfect,” was Benn’s obviously delighted take on the weekend.

Earlier in the day Allen surprised festivalgoers with a brief performance on the Waterfront Stage, when she was pre-recording a segment for the following day’s “Andrew Marr Show.”

The attractions that showed there’s much more to Latitude than just music included the English National Ballet, Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance, and the Candoco Dance Company, which all went through their paces on the Waterfront Stage.

There was also a chance to see a film challenging the decisions made by former Tory education minister Michael Grove, who gave more currency to the debate by getting sacked five days before the festival opened. The festival debate about arts and education was soon picked up by the UK media.

The parts of the festival about music July 17-20 included The Black KeysEditorsHaimBombay Bicycle ClubThe JayhawksThe Afghan WhigsCrystal Fighters, and Tame Impala.