Afternoon slots on a festival’s main stage can be a cruel and intimidating testing ground for up-and-coming performers. What may sound great within the gloomy confines of a medium-sized urban venue can lose its impact when performed on a big field in broad daylight before a transient crowd of musical moochers. It takes a certain calibre of artist to fill that space, make an impact and grab that crowd’s attention.
It takes someone like Patrick Wolf.
On Saturday afternoon, the 26 year-old multi-instrumentalist didn’t just fill Latitude’s Obelisk Arena; at times it felt as though the festival’s largest stage would struggle to contain his incandescent energy. Wearing a monotone Union Jack-themed unitard which made him look like a demented splicing of Ziggy-era Bowie and Marvel Comics’ Captain Britain, he tore through a set of old and new tracks including Accident & Emergency, Hard Times and The Libertine. With just the right balance of camp flamboyance, charismatic cockiness and I-belong-here swagger, Wolf delivered a compelling performance that had the audience eating out of his presumably finely-manicured hand. If that wasn’t enough, he even managed to tease some sunlight out of an overcast sky.
A headline act in the making, then.