Latitude saved the best till last at the weekend, with a vintage headline set by New Order, writes Daniel Jeakins
A lot has been written about Latitude‘s unashamedly ‘middle-class’ feel, and perhaps not enough about what a great event it is for hardcore music fans.
Yes, those who visit Henham Park can take gondola rides, pay concierges to deliver them drinks and dine at an on-site restaurant, but it’s the music line-up that truly impresses for the weekender’s 2016 iteration.
Feeling like the result of careful, considered curation (rather than simply booking stadium-fillers to bring in the masses), 2016’s Latitude features performances from some critically-adored acts and, in conjunction with its stunning site, feels like a true utopia for the music connoisseur.
The Maccabees – photo: Dan Dennison
The huge success of her debut album earns Courtney Barnett a slot on the Main Stage this year, and in truth it’s not the ideal environment for an artist who still sounds so raw and rough around the edges.
The spacious folk anthems of Bear’s Den are a better fit, with the band’s War on Drugs-meets-Mumford sound going down well with the audience.
Ex Fleet Fox Father John Misty has certainly come out of his shell as a solo artist and impresses with a charismatic set rife with tracks from his excellent 2015 release I Love You, Honeybear.
As night falls it’s the turn of The Maccabees to grace the Main Stage in their highly anticipated headline slot, and they grab their moment at the top of the bill with both hands.
The five-piece from Elephant & Castle have quietly built-up a diverse set-list over four studio albums and now feel like a band with the range of songs to take on headline slots regularly. The cutesy ‘Toothpaste Kisses’, anthemic ‘Pelican’ and brooding ‘Something Like Happiness’ are amongst the highlights.
Chvrches – photo: Ben Gibson
Scorching heat greets Daughter on the main stage, and whilst the soft, angelic vocals of Elena Tonra are impressive, songs from the band’s relatively weak second record fail to engage much of the crowd.
Chvrches are a live act far better suited to large stages and their punchy indie-pop delights in the sunshine – the Scots have continued their upwards trajectory since second record Every Open Eye hit the UK top 5 and you wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them headlining a few years down the line.
The responsibility of Saturday’s headline slot falls to The National, who take the honour of being the first band to headline Latitude for a second time.
There are a few poignant moments typical of the emotive indie specialists – Lauren Mayberry joined the band for ‘I Need My Girl’ whilst an acoustic sing-a-long to ‘Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks’ closed their set brilliantly – but they weren’t as compelling as they can be on record.
M83 – photo: Victor Frankowski
On Sunday The Magic Gang could be found kicking up a storm on a small stage amongst the woodland. The indie four-piece create a house party atmosphere effortlessly and could prove to be one the 2016 festival season’s biggest breakthrough act.
A little later and the main stage is treated to the performance of the weekend from M83. Their 2011, Grammy-nominated record Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming propelled them to international acclaim but it’s the sheer depth of their discography that truly impresses.
Atmospheric interludes constantly lead to golden dance hooks in a genuinely thrilling set, which culminates in the divine ‘Midnight City’.
New Order – photo: Jen O’Neill
It’s such a good set that most acts would falter when given the task of following that, but legendary 80s synth pioneers New Order rise to the challenge with a career-spanning set that completely brings the house down.
Their latest album Music Complete is up there with their strongest releases and the band’s new and old songs both sound mightily impressive on the huge Obelisk Stage.
The finishing one-two punch of ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ closes the festival in terrific fashion, but the whole set is so impressive that you can’t imagine there’d be many complaints if they were invited back to headline next time around.