Latitude Festival 2022

Words and photographs by Mark Stimpson

Latitude is probably the biggest festival in the East of England. Launched in 2006, Latitude is set in Henham Park, an historic 4,200 acre estate situated north of the village of Blythburgh in Suffolk. Despite being only 30 miles from where I live, this is my first visit. I arrive early on Friday, fully expecting similar traffic chaos to what I had experienced a few weeks ago for Bryan Adams at Blickling. Happily, there were no such problems, and it was a breeze to park and enter the festival. However, finding the press tent seemed problematic. The site is huge and not very well sign posted. I was sent on a merry dance and ended up in the green room outside Lewis Capaldi’s dressing room before some helpful chap pointed me in the right direction. By the time I had arrived, Larkin Poe had already opened on the Obelisk stage, so I stood and watched them from the audience before nipping off to the BBC Sounds tent for the opener Mickey Callisto.

I can only describe him as slightly odd, dressed in a red track suit, bouncing around the stage Freddy Mercuryesque. It felt like he was auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent, but he delighted the small gathering. By contrast the tent is rammed to see local band Gaffer Tape Sandy. For them it’s as much as a homecoming gig. They ooze talent and are full of energy. One to watch, a future headliner maybe. Another future star is Alfie Templeman. At only 19, and with already 4 EP’s to his name, his performance on the Obelisk stage was awesome. I’ll defo be looking to catch his autumn tour. When the Latitude app announced that Self Esteem were performing a secret set in the village, I set off in pursuit. However, several hundred others had a similar idea. By the time I arrived, judging by the large crowd, it wasn’t quite so secret. Even with a press pass it was impossible to get anywhere near the tiny stage, so I gave up and decided to have a wander around the site. I ended up in the Trailer Park, lured in by a yellow van serving cocktails, and a band dressed as dogs. Here vehicles are given a new lease of life by being transformed into something new. The caravan transformed into a pirate ship is amazing as is the car with spider legs. By this time mid-afternoon the temperature had risen to about 30 degrees, even the pink sheep had decided it was too hot had were laying down under their own shade. I decide to retreat to the BBC Sounds tent ready for Maximo Park who I’ve wanted to see live for ages.

I’m glad I did, the tent was several degrees cooler than being outside. Maximo Park certainly knows how to entertain the crowd; Paul Smith’s slightly eccentric performance was a joy to watch. I kicked myself for not catching them before.

My standout performance of day one goes to Self Esteem. This was undoubtedly one of the finest festival sets that I have ever experienced. In a dress made from Boot’s advantage cards, this was a truly spectacular and incredible performance. I’ve seen Self Esteem a.k.a Rebecca Taylor several times but tonight this was her ultimate performance. She was on another level. Everything else just pales into insignificance. While Maggie Rogers has a great voice, and her performance was powerful and exciting to watch she couldn’t touch self Esteem.

I wasn’t that impressed with Lewis Capaldi, and I wish I hadn’t seen him. The confetti canons were the most exciting part of his set. He apologised to the crowd that there was no new music, as he had spent the last two years masturbating. I decided it was now a good time to leave and grab some food before catching Phoebe Bridges and heading home.

Getting food proved to be another mistake. I don’t think the burger was cooked properly. I woke up at 2am being violently sick. I then spent Saturday on the toilet completely missing day 2.

First thing on Sunday, still with a dodgy tummy, I was standing on the bridge over the lake wondering why there was a huge queue. Perhaps they all had dodgy tummies I wondered. On investigation this was the queue for swimming. It was already quite hot so I was quite envious of all those having a dip in the lake to cool down. Due to the heat I decided to just stick to the Obelisk and BBC sounds stages. Having studied the days schedule, the line up didn’t seem as bloated as Friday.

Sunday kicked off with local girl Dylan. I was really impressed with her performance so will make a point of catching her on her autumn tour. I’ve seen Joe Armon-Jones before and was quite surprised to see him at Latitude. Both him and vocalist Ras Asheber are extremely talented, but they are niche performers.

One of the great positives of attending festivals is that you get to see acts that you wouldn’t normally go to see. Mark Owen is one such act. His female fans had turned up early to claim a prized spot at the barrier adorned with messages of undying love. There’s a huge roar as he walks on stage. Wearing a white baggy suit and sporting an ill advised moustache, you could be forgiven for thinking that he had been replaced by Bobby Ball. The resemblance was uncanny but there was no red braces or Rock on Tommy. We are treated to a couple of Take That songs, a confetti cannon and a chance to sing happy birthday to his daughter.

So, the highlight of the day is the closing double bill of The Manic Street Preachers and Snow Patrol. I was surprised that the Manics were not headlining the final day. Judging by the comments in the pit I wasn’t the only one to think so. As expected, their performance was pretty special being joined on stage by The Anchoress. The hour long set wasn’t really long enough. Clearly Nicky Ware didn’t think so either, smashing his guitar before handing it to someone in the audience.

So, the honour of closing the festival went to Snow Patrol who headlined the first ever Latitude. Their performance was ok. Not to be out done with guest appearances, Martha Wainwright appeared on screen, while local lad Ed Sheeran made a surprise appearance on stage towards the end of the set.
I really enjoyed the weekend. Set in a beautiful park tastefully enhanced with all manner of frills there’s so much to see and do. It appeals to all ages. When it comes to music, there’s so much, from the mainstream to acts you’ve never heard of. If you aren’t into music there’s comedy, poetry and even cookery. Next year I plan to camp to get the full Latitude experience.


Philip Goddard

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