Day Three of Latitude Festival 2018 continued the solidly packed programme of back-to-back entertainment, following on from the great music, comedy and theatrical acts in already appearing during Day One and Day Two. What did Day Three bring to the table?
Many people just go to Latitude for the music; instead of tasting a bit of everything, they find themselves a good position at the front of the Obelisk Arena and stay there for the day. To be honest, can you blame them with headliners like Las Vegas rockers The Killers? Saturday saw the band bring their alternative rock sound to the main music stage. Frontman Brandon Flowers – along with the other members of the band – had the crowd in an excited frenzy from the moment they arrived, performing many of their hugely popular hits, as well as playing “the greatest B-side of all time”, Oasis’s “Acquiesce”, following a brief impromptu stage visit from none other than rock ‘n’ roll legend (and Oasis frontman) Liam Gallagher.
Playing earlier that evening at the BBC Music Arena, Gallagher was this year’s unannounced act for the weekend, following on from previous years’ surprise artists, Ed Sheeran, Tom Jones and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. Relying on a somewhat cryptic message on Twitter and a promise of an “iconic” star, fans packed themselves into the BBC Music Stage to see Gallagher perform an amazing set, combining his new material combined with no less than eight crowd-pleasing classic Oasis tracks, including “Whatever”, “Wonderwall”, “Supersonic”, “Cigarettes & Alcohol” and “Live Forever”. Also taking on the BBC Music Stage were 90s indie rock band The Breeders, who with almost 30 years in alternative music showed they could still hold a large crowd, flawlessly producing their distinctive non-mainstream sound.
Earlier in the day, over in the Film & Music Arena – very much living up to the venue’s name – Mark Kermode’s Celluloid Jukebox emphasised the power that music plays in movies. He ably explained – supported by screenings of the opening sequences of Baby Driver and Do The Right Thing, plus clips from more obscure movies like Slade in Flame and the criminally underrated Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me – how the soundtrack is very much half of a movie. A sheer delight for anyone interested in how movies are made, and enlightening for the uninitiated, Kermode was knowledgeable and charming, as always.
Of course, Latitude isn’t all unconventional stuff: doesn’t everyone love a good old sing-song? Massaoke provided just that, as hundreds of people had a fabulous time gathering together to collectively sing along to some absolute classic tracks performed by a superb rock band, who egged the crowd on and enthused the masses. Following straight on from Massaoke was Buttoned Down Disco, giving an already energised and fun-loving crowd even more reason to dance the night away to non-stop party tracks.
Earlier in the day, Showstopper! The Improvised Musical combined music with comedy over at the Theatre tent – and in a word, it was absolute sheer bloody genius. A small group of actors, supported by two musicians and a enthusiastic narrator, performed hilarious improv comedy of the highest order, while at the same time creating an epic Broadway-style musical as they went along, based entirely on audience suggestions. The talent on stage was simply mind-blowing: from the energy and gusto with which they ad-libbed lyrics around everything that was thrown at them (such as basing the entire musical in Travelodge in Grimsby, populated by characters from Sesame Street); to their incredible singing ability, both in terms of vocal power, and their talent for creating complex four-part harmonies on the fly around the lyrics they’ve only just thought of. The show was a sheer joy from start to finish – and certainly as good – no, better! – than any scripted show. Currently on tour, this show is an absolute must-see.
On the subject of comedy, QI’s Alan Davies took the Comedy arena by storm with another of his down-to-earth monologues. He kept the crowd entertained waxing lyrical about the pitfalls of parenting, what happens to your body as you get older, with perhaps a little oversharing of “personal problems” . His hilarious blend of observational humour combined with the surreal and big dose of silly made him very popular with the crowd.
Despite having a type of cerebral palsy that renders him unable to speak, the hugely popular comedian and Britain’s Got Talent winner Lee Ridley – aka Lost Voice Guy – had a lot to say. Performing to a massively overflowing audience at the relatively small Cabaret tent – normally home to the slightly obscure up-and-coming acts (the exception being the also hugely popular James Acaster from Mock The Week, who performed at the same venue on Saturday afternoon) – he used his robot-voiced communication aid to drily lampoon the expectations that able-bodied have of disabled people, cleverly making people more aware of their prejudices through humour.
On the other hand, Where’s The F In News, which also had a clear agenda, was simply not funny, despite being in the vast Comedy arena. Taking a range of contemporary issues in the news from around the world, an all-female panel from different cultural backgrounds discussed how they negatively impacted women. However, unlike yesterday morning’s succesful QI: Live, this panel show was light on jokes; instead – under the apparent guise of promoting Fourth-wave feminism – it focused entirely on how everything bad in the world is the fault of a man; like an episode of Loose Women, the show was essentially an attack on all men ever. More successful at covering women’s issues without resorting to such negativity – by actually telling funny jokes – was Scottish comic Fern Brady, also at the Comedy tent.
Also politically-motivated was the interactive role-playing board game Revolution, in the Faraway Forest’s Town Hall. Brilliantly executed, it was a cleverly designed and thought-provoking game, with a feel somewhat akin to George Orwell’s 1984. Three teams of festival goers were pitched against each other as rival political factions in a fictional post-revolution London. In a bid to gain power over the boroughs of London, the factions wrote their manifestos, created propaganda, and slandered the other factions while trying to form alliances. Lots of fun with a clear message of co-operation in our turbulent times.
Another non-comedy and music show was Recirquel Contemporary Circus Company’s Paris de Nuit, which promised a tale of lust and daring feats of acrobatic bravery. Featuring the intertwining of sexuality, it provided a risque, burlesque-style extravaganza of daring circus acts. Larger than life personalities and cheeky innuendos helped the audience to overlook some of the repetition in the acts, and occasional mistakes.
Day Three of Latitude Festival 2018 delivered another full day of brilliant comedy, great music and amazing arts shows. Only a couple of acts (out of the many we witnessed) didn’t quite make the grade, but overall it continued the very high standard we’ve come to expect from Latitude, and very much achieved on Day One and Day Two. Will the standard remain for the last day?