A League of its own: Latitude festival 2016

Near the coast of our neighbouring county of Suffolk, lies Henham Park; home to 3,500 acres of green land and the annual delight that is Latitude Festival. Delivering a diverse range of music, comedy, theatre, art and literature to over 35,000 cultural enthusiasts, Latitude’s vast array of acts, attention-to-detail and all-embracing aura is what separates the event from the rest of the British festival scene, with families, couples and friends all enjoying a line-up of carefully selected, hand-picked musical talent.

The line-up of this year’s edition was a real treat. On the Friday night, The Maccabees took to Latitude’s main stage to make their long-deserved headline debut. The five-piece gave a dazzling performance with tracks from early indie anthems to latest record, Marks To Prove It. The band’s love of brass instrumentation suited the setting of Henham Park to a tee, closing their set (and unknowingly their career together) with a confetti finale of ‘Something Like Happiness’, entrancing the crowd with blaring lights.

Following a headline slot at 2011’s edition of Latitude, Ohio rock band The National became the first ever act to headline the festival twice, but we weren’t left asking why. As a full moon fell directly above the main stage on the Saturday evening, the band gave all that can be described as a shining performance creating an intimate mid-weekend vibe with tender, yet passionate rock.

However, despite its chilled ambience, the festival didn’t lack excitement; there seemed to be a certain buzz around New Order over the weekend, climaxing with a fitting finale of alternative-dance tracks on the Sunday night. With an exciting set spanning 35 years, from their Joy Division origins through to anthemic dance track ‘Blue Monday’ and those from latest album Music Complete, the hype for a show shimmering with 80s nostalgia was not to be a disappointment.

New Order’s predecessors M83 proved that quality 80s synthpop is still alive and kicking with tracks from this year’s Junk, their best yet. The French multi-instrumentalists gave a tireless performance with pop bangers ‘Do It, Try It’ and ‘Go’, along with the ambient 90s alt-rock of their previous album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

Suiting Latitude’s love of theatre and comedy, ex-Fleet Fox Father John Misty appeared to be another perfect choice for the festival’s main stage bill. Both dramatic and satirical, Father John (and his ego), bought psychedelic-folk and a witty stage presence to an audience who probably laughed more at his show than at comedy flop Russell Howard that same day.

Catering to nostalgic 80s dad-dancers and young indie fans alike, Latitude doesn’t boast a line-up of radio favourites, nor sell-out arena acts, but does promise quality musicians and fresh upcomers, all in charming surroundings. Latitude’s glorious, magical setting of Henham Park holds sentiment to many.

Next year’s event, Latitude 2017, takes place from the 13th – 16th July 2017.


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Alice Mortimer

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January 2022
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