Latitude 2015: Friday - Henham Park, Suffolk
The large chunk of goodwill due to Latitude organisers Festival Republic is because they're one of the few big promoters to genuinely give a first headline break to new bands. After giving Foals and The Black Keys their chance in the last couple of years, electro-chillout merchants Alt-J get their chance to make the jump from second stage headliners in 2013 to main stage top act this year.
The obvious risk it that the band in question just aren’t ready for the leap but the Leeds trio are a qualified success. There are tunes - like ‘Taro’, the much maligned ‘Left Hand Free’, the majestic ‘Tessellate’ and pining ‘Matilda’ - but it’s a lot to ask a band whose highest charting UK single got to number 58 to carry off this slot, and the discernible lack of charismatic star power is noticeable. (Though Latitude’s sizable youth contingent lapped it up in a throng of arm aloft euphoria.)
No such pressure accompanied the acts on the iArena stage, with the powerful soul-rock-blues concoction of Curtis Harding making light of his early afternoon slot before Mali’s Songhoy Blues got the tent dancing, though not quite strutting its stuff in the vein of energetic frontman Aliou Toure. The fun continued later with New York’s Ezra Furman dressed like Norma Bates, singing like Marge Simpson, and thoroughly entrancing the huge crowd with the likes of the infectious ‘Wobbly’.
While Public Service Broadcasting packed out the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage for a runthrough of their historical snippet-based electronica, the dirty - literally grimy - Great Circus tent really came alive during Django Django’s hour on stage, despite a “People of Glastonbury” moment eliciting a round of restrained boos - the Edinburgh-formed quartet shook any first day tiredness away through their bass-heavy melding of 80s inspired dance and trippy guitar playing.
For any discerning Latitude professional the only way to close Friday night was an hour with Pappy’s in the Literature tent, their run through of classics (‘The Glove Song’, ‘Computer Hacker’, etc.) and newer music based skits, including a convoluted version of ‘Skater Boi’ in skin tight hotpants, was literally balls out (Surely not?! - Ed.) funny.