Al-J brought Latitude 2018 to a close last night (July 15) with a bewitching set of synthetic future-folk and minimalist medieval funk pop.
Before visuals of glistening white lights and flanked by slivers of neon, the band delivered a captivating amalgam of fan favourites and arch new tracks from latest album ‘Relaxer’.
“Latitude, how the hell are you?” asked keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton as the new album’s ‘Deadcrush’ fed into the sordid monk rock of ‘Fitzpleasure’. The crowd were in fine mettle, roaring on the futuristic country trot of ‘Something Good’ and the stark grooves of ‘Nara’ like stadium showstoppers.
‘The Gospel Of John Hurt’ built twitchy pagan vibes to a sizzling climax and ‘In Cold Blood’ was skeletal funk with a murderous bent. Then a mid-set ‘Every Other Freckle’ upped the pace and a horn-drenched ‘Hunger Of The Pines’ built a brooding mood ahead of a late-set run of Alt-J’s debut album classics. “This is an old song, it’s a good song, sing along if you want,” said singer Joe Newman before striking up the opening chimes of ‘Matilda’, which gave way to the pixie rave of ‘Dissolve Me’.
Restraint returned for pastoral new album track ‘Pleader’, full of flutes and nonny-nonny rhythms, and the band fluffed the intro of a sweeping and sonorous ‘Taro’. The main set closed with garage blues twangler ‘Left Hand Free’ but Alt-J returned for a run through ‘3WW’, their ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’, before a final ‘Breezeblocks’. “I haven’t got gushy yet, I’m gonna get gushy now,” Gus said ahead of the song, “you guys are the best crowd, headlining Latitude is the greatest honour, we’ll see you in the woods later.” At the end of the song Alt-J left the stage to the strains of Rick Astley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.
Earlier in the day, Wolf Alice paid tribute to Gareth Southgate during a Jekyll and Hyde set of furious screamo alt-rockers ‘Yuk Foo’, ‘You’re A Germ’ and ‘Formidable Cool’, dream pop tunes like ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ and ‘Your Love’s Whore’, and wild doom rock such as ‘Giant Peach’. “This one’s about everyone making friends everywhere, I love you Gareth Southgate,” said bassist Theo Ellis ahead of ‘Bros’.
“We didn’t play any festivals last year so we’re having a blast in the festival season,” singer Ellie Rowsell told NME backstage. “We’ve had such a good weekend, playing in Portugal for Nos! Alive yesterday and Madrid for Mad Cool, which were both really stellar line-ups, amazing crowds, amazing vibes. We’re going to lots of new places after the festival season like Russia, China and South Africa, so we’re still excited about this campaign. I like music again now. I went through a long period of not listening to it, now I’m starting to be excited again about new music.”
“We’ve all been overwhelmed by the response to the new tunes,” added Theo. “I still find it weird that people are willing to clap after ‘Visions Of A Life’ because it’s eight minutes long and I can’t do anything myself for the last two minutes, so that’s a good indication that things are going well.”
Ellie has celebrated her birthday at two previous Latitude shows, but this year she’ll be in Romania for the big event. “I’m debating having a world cup-times-Love Island theme party.”
Elsewhere, Idles delivered a brilliantly chaotic set in the BBC Music tent, inviting audience members onstage to play guitar on a ragged, bawled cover of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ while singer Joe Talbot carried one of them around the stage on his shoulders. Rag’n’Bone Man played sunset soul to a hearty crowd at the main Obelisk Stage and Superorganism played a show of laconic indie hip-pop backed by playful visuals of galloping prawns, talking hippos and Cherry Crush.