Our kitchens look like chinese laundries, our mud splattered wellies perch on plastic bags in hallways, our legs feel like lead, our heads like cotton wool. It can only mean one thing – we’ve been Latituded.
It’s our favourite weekend of the year bar none, and now the tents have been dismantled for another year, we’re back at PP HQ reflecting on another vintage festival.
Team PP assembled in Suffolk on Thursday. With THE 8TH in Birmingham the previous night, the creative team travelled rock ‘n’ roll style with the artists in Paul Heaton’s tour bus, while the office disgorged into trains and cars and buses, weighed down by rucksacks jammed with pillows and rum and crisps.
Having pitched PP Camp in our usual spot in a glade of the lovely Henham Park forest, it was straight to The Film & Music Arena for tech rehearsals for THE 8TH. It’s always an exciting few hours before the Arena opens to the public – stallholders prepping their wares, wafts of music from multiple soundchecks, anticipation in the air. THE 8TH’s band tuned up, Reg roared his opening lines into the mic, the singers stepped up to stretch their vocal chords, Tim waved his wand at the lighting rig, Bernd frantically searched for a drill.
Tech done, and the gates to the Arena about to be opened, we beat a retreat backstage and waited for showtime.
THE 8TH from backstage at The Film & Music Arena
For six consecutive years, Paines Plough has appeared in the Theatre Tent (in its various guises), so it was a new and exciting experience to be performing in the Film & Music Arena for the first time in 2012. Thursday night is a brilliant night for theatre, because none of the music stages are opened until Friday, so the Arts stages are all packed with eager punters seeking their first festival fix.
Reg and the gang were on top form, bringing the curtain down on the tour with a rabble-rousing performance, roared on by a jammed to capacity tent head-bopping and yowling approval. “It’s my first rock ‘n’ roll tour,” grins Reg afterwards as celebratory beers are cracked. Huge thanks to everyone who came to see us, you were an incredible crowd.
No festival fun for the band and singers, they’re straight back on the tour bus and off into the night. Team PP heads to the theatre tent to cheer nabokov’s brilliant SYMPHONY before heading to the woods to dance idiotically to Dermot O’Leary‘s deliciously retro indie disco set.
With THE 8TH done and dusted, the whole weekend stretched out ahead of us, ripe for the revelling. Kate Tempest’s stunning BRAND NEW ANCIENTS has everyone on their feet for a raucous standing ovation in the theatre tent. There’s more theatrical delights from Tangled Feet and Rash Dash, a smorgasboard of poetics in the poetry tent and a great Latitude moment on the Lake Stage as the sun makes a hesitant appearance just as Clock Opera walk on stage for an imperious set. Our excitement at Bon Iver was a little pre-emptory. He wasn’t very good. We were sad.
The Latitude crowd packing out the tent for THE 8TH
Saturday offers up Luke Wright’s epic poem The Vile Ascent Of Lucien Gore And What The People Did in the outdoor theatre – one of our highlights from last year and the same again this. In the literary arena we heard PP alumni Abi Morgan in conversation with Edith Bowman, praising Kate Tempest‘s show as a reminder of how exciting live theatre can be. Also a great quote: “For a writer there’s nothing better than the moment you press send on the first draft.” Look Left Look Right bestowed not one but four new musicals to much hilarity, and Jimmy McGhie‘s wry observational anecdotes were much to our liking in the comedy arena, as was the wildly-inappropriate-and-all-the-funnier-for-it Lee Nelson. We couldn’t see Subtrkt because he’s a man of mystery, but he sounded great. Los Campesinos struck a blow for the liberation of fun by continuing their set acoustically when someone officious pulled the plug on them, and Guy Garvey showed Bon Iver how it’s done with a barnstorming headline set. “So throw those curtains wide! One day like this a year’d see me right!” And so it would. Especially if it continued with arm-flailing dancing to Guilty Pleasures, a sensational DJ set from Shy FX and our legendary Car Park Disco until sunrise. Or in this instance until some jobsworth security guards shut us down. Boo. Hiss.
Bernd (in the hat) watching Reg from backstage
Sunday comes too soon at Latitude. It always does. But what’s this orange ball in the sky? Should we be worried? No, we should buy cider and sit on the grass and listen to Ben Howard. That’s what we should do. Matthew Bourne on the lake, Daughter in the woods, a sensory out-of-body experience in Curious Directive’s enchanting Olfactory…a bounty of epicurean delights. Alabama Shakes got us shaking, Buena Vista Social Club proved we can still be shaking when we’re 70, and Wild Beasts smashed it in the Word Arena. Off to the woods for a final jig to Norman Jay, then the traditional bop in the Performer’s Bar to bring down the curtain on another magical mystery tour through the enchanted fields and forests of Henham Park.
And so the sad trudge to the car on Monday morning, sleep deprived and malnourished, resplendent in damp clothes from the Mud by Jackson Pollock range and fearing the onset of trench foot. The A12 is at a standstill. It’s raining apologetically. There is glitter absolutely everywhere. Has anyone got any nurofen?
All hail Latitude. The greatest festival in the world. Thank you to all who sailed in her. We loved performing for you, we loved partying with you, we miss your glittered faces and ludicrous head gear. We are counting down the days uintil we commune with you again.
And meantime, you can reminisce with our Latitude Spotify Playlist or buy THE 8TH album, or leave a comment to tell us your Latitude tales.