So here I am, nearly three weeks after we finally packed up our tents, and I’m still writing about the Latitude Festival. Haven’t quite grasped the concept of live blogging, have I?
Anyhow, we’ve now reached Day 4 or – as it was more commonly known back in those days – Sunday, 20th July 2008. It was the last day of the festival and, without hesitation, my undisputed highlight was seeing Grinderman perform at the Obelisk Arena. Grinderman, in case you don’t already know, is a band Nick Cave formed with erstwhile Bad Seeds Warren Ellis, Martyn P. Casey and Jim Sclavunos. They released an eponymous album last year and their raw and raucous guitar-based sound been compared in some quarters with Cave’s post-punk band The Birthday Party. Not in these quarters, mind: I think they sound more like the early-Bad Seeds. Other people in other quarters think that the early-Bad Seeds sound a lot like the late-Birthday Party, while other factions maintain that the early-Birthday Party sound a lot like the late-Boys Next Door. That’s just being awkward, though.
Whatever the case, I make no secret of my musical allegiances: I’m a huge Nick Cave fan and have been for many a year. I saw him play with his long-time cohorts The Bad Seeds as recently as May and wrote about it here. Elsewhere, I’ve said that he “kicks arse so hard it farts out of its nose.” Overall, then, I’m of the opinion that Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds are one of the greatest live rock-and-roll bands in the world. After seeing the Grinderman gig at Latitude, though, I feel as though they’re facing some stiff competition from themselves.
With menacing swagger and no shortage of humour, Cave captivated the crowd. He’s very good at crowd captivation. The band opened with Depth Charge Ethel and most of the set came from the Grinderman album, with the addition of a new song called Dream (“Like when you’re fucking asleep,” clarified Cave, before edging himself into a verbal cul-de-sac by misquoting Shakespeare: “To dream, perchance to… to… to… ah, fuck it.”).
Here they are. Watch them rock.
Other highlights of the day included:
14.00(-ish) Wordtheatre: The Affairs of Others. I caught this by chance and was captivated. David Soul – the artist formerly known as Hutch, Ben Mears and Jerry Springer – read the Tobias Wolff short story ‘Bullet in the Brain.’ Black as anthracite humour, powerfully delivered.
14.45 Frankie Boyle. Glaswegian panel show regular surprised me by being a lot funnier than I expected.
15.50 Noah & The Whale. They of the criminally catchy summer hit 5 Years Time. Clare wanted to see them; I’m glad I went.
16.30 Otis Lee Crenshaw. Wah-hey! More Rich Hall!
17.30 Stewart Lee. Sublime. A routine that consisted of riffs and meditations on a 1970s comedy album called ‘I’m a Comedian…. Seriously’ by Franklyn Ajaye (yes, I had to look him up, too) became a ruthless deconstruction of comedy technique. It shouldn’t have been anywhere near as pant-wettingly funny as it was. But it was.
18.35 Breeders. I saw them in April but, mercifully, this time around was spared the insane ramblings of a speed garage freak from Northampton. They were great, of course, but probably would have been better in the more intimate Uncut tent.
20.00 Grinderman. See above.
21.15(-ish) Blondie. More guilty pleasures. We caught them from a distance, but didn’t have a choice (and, yes, I meant to say ‘them’: as Clare pointed out at the time, Blondie is a band. People seem to forget that).
21.45 Tindersticks. I’ve never really listened to the Tindersticks, but they’ve often been mentioned in the same breath as bands I really like. Thought I’d give them a try; wish I didn’t.