Latitude Festival – Thom Yorke, Gaslight Anthem, Saint Etienne, Magazine

Thom Yorke @ Latitude Festival: photo by Paul Wesley Griggs
Thom Yorke @ Latitude Festival: photo by Paul Wesley Griggs

Latitude Festival Music Stages
There were four main music stages at this year’s festival: Obelisk (main stage) Arena and The Lake Stage were open air, while the Uncut and Sunrise Arenas were in tents.

Latitude Festival Highlights – Sunday 26th July

Thom Yorke – Obelisk (main stage) Arena
I’m sure a large majority of all ages at this year’s Latitude Festival was excited at the last minute special guest announcement that the main stage would start at midday on Sunday to accommodate a rare solo performance by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

The main arena was packed and like me was probably wondering which Thom would turn up to play for this friendly festival crowd.  Would he be silent between songs, sultry and moody, play songs and take a bow. Or would he be Mr Jolly on this sunny summer day?  He turned out to be the most responsive and talkative of all the acts I went to see over the whole weekend.

Thom Yorke was greeted by a very enthusiastic cheer as he walked onto the main stage and sat behind a piano to play an opening song from his solo album, Eraser.  I like Thom Yorke’s solo album but I love Radiohead, and I wasn’t the only one wanting Thom Yorke to play acoustic versions from their back catalogue.  After all, it was a festival!

Yorke was in good spirit, replying to the crowd as the called for songs.  He was very upbeat, vocal and amusing.  At one point introducing an unreleased track which he said would now be available on YouTube. Throughout the set Yorke moved between piano, synthesizer, bass, electric and acoustic guitar with an excellent set including two Radiohead songs.  I was hoping for a sing-a-long moment with Creep, but settled for Everything In Its Right Place & There There.

Gaslight Anthem – Obelisk (main stage) Arena
I spent much of Sunday afternoon taking in non-music attractions but had earmarked Gaslight Anthem as soon as I had received the weekend’s timetable, after seeing their performance at this year’s Glastonbury.  I was hoping for another big performance from the Springsteen-lovers from New Jersey.

For whatever reason it was a shame to see the main arena was only half full when Gaslight Anthem started their late afternoon set.  But as their garage rock anthems began it was like the Pied Piper calling.  The main arena was soon pretty full with a mix of fans and the uninitiated.  But everyone was dancing and enjoying one of the best live bands around.  There was even a small, excited mosh-pit formed in front of the stage, while to the sides families had young kids on their shoulders.

A couple of songs in and the place erupted with the opening guitar strumming of the wonderful ’59 Sound, the title track from their current album; a perfect song for a perfect summer festival, echoing a blend of early Clash and Bruce Springsteen, nice!

Simple songs about cars and girls, the Gaslight Anthem sound is both garage and stadium rock.  Whatever side of the fence you walk, they make for a great live experience.  Good clean old fashioned rock n roll, but no cussing to be heard from these tattooed lover boys.

Saint Etienne – Uncut Stage
Saint Etienne drew an older crowd to the Uncut Stage tent looking to reminisce and have a good time.  The music was good and they looked great, especially the gorgeous Sarah Cracknell in a grey trouser suit.  She admitted she was nervous beforehand as to whether they would attract an audience at all. No reason to worry.  The tent was completely full and was in full ‘happy mode’ from the first track, Nothing Can Stop Us Now.

It seemed Saint Etienne was enjoying themselves as much as the audience as they played a set including A Good Thing, Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Who Do You Think You Are, Burnt Out Car and He’s On The Phone.  Excellent!

The Saint Etienne set left me with a big smile on my face, really happy and even more so when later, my 12 year old son said it was his favourite performance of the whole weekend.

Magazine – Uncut Stage
Post-punk art rock group from the late 1970s / early 1980s Magazine followed Saint Etienne and played at the same time as Editors on the main stage.  Clearly the recently reformed Magazine appealed to an older audience, though I did have my reservations.  Not only opposed to going to see nostalgia over a contemporary sound, but also witnessing a band who I once loved reform and play without a vital member.  Guitarist John McGeoch was an integral part in the influential sound of both Magazine and Siouxsie & The Banshees and the way I wanted to play guitar, but sadly died in 2004. It wasn’t quite the same as seeing The Jam without Paul Weller, but I think you get the idea.

But Magazine shone out as a mature post-punk band in 1978 not just because of McGeoch’s guitar sound but also Barry Adamson’s throbbing bass (he went on to be a member the original Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) and the wonderfully eccentric lead singer Howard Devoto.

The sound was good, very edgy especially Barry Adamson’s bass.  Howard Devoto was his eccentric off-the-wall self and very entertaining.  For sure they had realised they were here to entertain a crowd heavy with anticipation and nostalgia, and they didn’t disappoint.   They opened a set of classics with The Light Pours Out Of Me that also included at the delight of the receptive audience Song From Under The Floorboards, Permafrost and my personal favourite Motorcade, before ending on a real high with Shot By Both Sides.

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