This was the year the kids took over Latitude. Previously the only young people you glimpsed at the famously genteel festival were the offspring of well-scrubbed parents from Dulwich and had names like Persephone, or Quintus, or Cialis.

You could barely make it past the literary salon without hearing a cut-glass voice come scything through the air: “No, Triton, that’s mummy’s quinoa.”

This year it was mostly teenagers. Vast, marauding armies of them, making the campsite at times resemble a cross between Children Of The Corn and an episode of The Inbetweeners. And they weren’t there with their parents; they were there with friends, blasting vuvuzelas and getting slaughtered on vodka-and-Capri Sun.

The line-up was presumably to blame. Last year’s headliners included Pet Shop Boys and Nick Cave, thus ensuring a Mojo-reading crowd. This year: Florence and Vampire Weekend. You get the impression Latitude organisers – perhaps a little sick of all those falafel jibes – had deliberately tried to rebrand the bash as an edgy mini-Glastonbury.

Photo: Andy Willsher
Latitude 2010 - photo gallery

And if that was their intention, well… then booking Crystal Castles was a masterstroke. Easily the most compelling spectacle of the weekend, their cut-short performance – confrontational, violent, volcanically exciting - served as a reminder of what a magnificent frontperson Alice Glass is.

The adults at the back booed. The teens at the front bayed for more. One of them enjoyed it so much he didn’t even mind getting punched in the head by Glass (read his account of the incident here.

There’s an edge of genuine, cant-tear-your-eyes-away danger to what Crystal Castles do. Belle And Sebastian, who followed them on the main stage, couldn’t help but appear tame in comparison.

But then, after Alice Glass’ wild-eyed meltdown, anything short of Stuart Murdoch motorcyle-jumping Evel Knievel-style over a fleet of burning buses would have seemed disappointingly short on pulse-quickening thrills. Hey, at least they played ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’.

And at least they weren’t as bad as Florence, who celebrated her first ever festival headline appearance by attempting to shout the audience to death, using a voice that remained stubbornly several kilometers off-key. For an hour-and-a-half.

Photo: Andy Willsher

Florence is the anti-Laura Marling, the Whitney Houston of indie, seemingly incapable of subtlety; you get the impression if she covered ‘Blackberry Stone’, she’d bellow it like it was ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’.

Actually, that’s too harsh. I saw her last year and she hit every note with the accuracy of a laser beam. She’s just been touring too long, and her larynx is in tatters. Someone give the poor woman a holiday.

Photo: Andy Willsher

No such vocal problems for Tom Jones, the ultimate pro, a man who has never let down his audience – although he came close at Latitude on the Thursday night. The program clearly stated he would be playing only songs from his new album, but people either hadn’t got the memo, or simply refused to believe it.

Poor Tom Jones. Evidently relishing his first chance in forty years to not play ‘What’s New Pussycat’, he rolled through a set of rootsy blues and gospel numbers – only to be greeted by bellowed, drunken requests for ‘Sex Bomb’. One woman next to me, when it became clear he wasn’t going to wheel out the hits, flatly called the 70-year-old singer a cunt.

Photo: Andy Willsher

I interviewed Tom before the show and in amongst hymning Kings Of Leon and The Killers (who he’s hoping to work with) he told me he had an irrational fear of being imprisoned. I wonder if there’s something psychologically revealing in that. After all, if you’d been forced by your audience to sing the same songs for four decades, you might fixate on the idea of being trapped, too.

Headliners and legends aside, new music was well represented this year – it was the most NME-friendly Latitude line-up ever, with extraordinary performances, in particular, from Everything Everything, Empire Of The Sun, Wild Beasts and Villagers.

Empire Of The Sun at Latitude, by Andy Willsher
Latitude 2010 - photo gallery

In the moments when I wasn’t out front enjoying all that lot, I was scurrying around backstage firing random quick-fire questions at every band I bumped into.

Here’s Everything Everything on crying over their own music and drinking their own piss:

Video by thefiveaday.com

Here’s Frankie Heartstring on loving Led Zeppelin and giving Jedward a slap.

Video by thefiveaday.com

Here’s The Maccabees’ Orlando Weeks (he wasn’t really into it to be honest)

Video by thefiveaday.com

Here’s Hockey on fancying Jessica Rabbit and death by guillotine.

Video by thefiveaday.com

And here’s School Of Seven Bells on the wonder of Will Smith and Bananarama.

Video by thefiveaday.com

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