The multiple award-winning music and arts event Latitude Festival returns to Henham Park, Suffolk once again, for yet another packed three day weekend of high profile musicians, comedians, actors, poets and much, much more. Every year, it’s a perfect opportunity to see your favourite artists – but also, more importantly, to broaden your cultural horizons, to discover new acts, and to experience brand new shows you’ve never heard of. Latitude Festival 2018 is no different.
Every year, the pre-festival ‘warm up’ on Thursday evening – only available for festival-goers staying for the whole weekend – grows and grows, including more and more unmissable high-profile acts. This year’s included what will no doubt a highlight of this year’s event: Sandi Toksvig in conversation with John Lloyd. Witty, intelligent and clearly both having a ball – especially Sandi, who had never been to a music and arts festival before – the well-known producer (QI, The News Quiz, Spitting Image) and popular presenter (QI, The News Quiz, The Great British Bake Off) traded jokes and told stories for an hour of sheer delight. The two national treasures (or “national trevors” if Sandi had her way) discussed everything from the work of renowned German scientists, sexual politics in panels shows, the genesis of QI, and the fundamental importance of Spitting Image to a better society, they were inspiring, charming and above all hilarious.
Also on the Thursday night, movie actor Idris Elba performed a surprise DJ set of popular crowd-pleasing hits, including remixes of several chart songs, such as Childish Gambino’s “This Is America”. Unsurprisingly incredibly busy – with dance music fans bumping shoulders with families keen to see a genuine Hollywood star in the flesh – Elba delivered a somewhat jolty set of differing styles of music, but overall, it was good clean fun, and a great way to get Latitude pumping.
Another act not normally associated with music, Marcus Brigstocke returned for a third year to host PrinceFest, which after three years, appears to have become a regular feature – and regular highlight – of the festival. This year’s purple party was less star-studded than in previous years; Rachel Parris (Austentatious, The Mash Report) was the only famous face to join Marcus in lip-syncing to Prince hits while he wore a home-made Prince costume (while miming playing a fake, painted wooden guitar), all the time encouraging audience members to come up on the stage to celebrate the legacy of Prince while raising money for charity. A simple concept, PrinceFest is not so much a show of Marcus’s musical talents (he clearly doesn’t know how to play a guitar), it’s instead an annual party for fans to collectively remember just how great Prince was, and what amazing music he left us. Lots of silly fun, lots of great music: what’s not to like?
But blending audience with performers isn’t always successful at Latitude. At the Instant Scorchestra, an alleged “immersive film and live experience”, festival-goers were encouraged to perform with professional musicians to create an improvised movie soundtrack. Undoubtedly well-meaning – attempting to promote togetherness through the musical arts – it was sadly let down in execution. Taking a long time to get going, the randomly assembled group of musicians and non-musicians eventually tried to improvise an accompaniment to a German expressionist silent movie, but without any sense of organisation, and with no conductor to lead the group, the result was directionless, chaotic and distinctly lacking in musicality. What could have been a fun jam was sadly quickly tedious. Disappointing.
All in all then, the pre-festival evening of entertainments on Thursday featured some great acts, unexpected brilliance, with the occasional disappointment. No different to normal then!