Total Guitar headed across the country to Henham Park, Suffolk to review Latitude festival 2010. Saturday's bands included The xx, Frankie & The Heartstrings, Chief and First Aid Kit.
As TG awoke to Saturday at Latitude, things were considerably hazier than the previous day. Sleep deprivation, hangovers and wallet-abuse had all combined to create a slight sense of melancholy remorse.
In an attempt to battle whatever it was from the previous night that was giving us a headache, TG once again headed to the shady confines of the Sunshine Arena for another acoustic(ish) act, Lupen Crook. Unfortunately his new songs have lost the dangerous-edge we loved and his new family-friendly pop is not of the same quality. Even Crook's totally-over-the-top Slash wannabe guitarist and his 12-string electric couldn't perk us up.
Later it was on to new Domino Records act, Chief, who did a much better job of soothing our beer-sweats. Breezy harmonies, chilled out Americana guitars and an awesome combination of beards, sunglasses, hats and hair uplifted us no end.
Next up was John Grant, who was given the unenviable task of trying to keep the Obelisk Arena entertained. He soon had the crowd on his side though, telling everyone that the first song was "For anyone that's had their heart trampled on by some asshole." With analogue synths, acoustics guitars and piano lines, Grant came across like a tongue-in-cheek Elton John.
Early evening saw the folkies among us head back to the Sunrise Arena for some aural treatment from two-piece First Aid Kit. These Swedish sisters made their name with an enchanting YouTube cover of Fleet Foxes' 'Tiger Mountain Peasant Song' (recorded in a forest with just an acoustic guitar) and they proved just as spell-binding in Latitude's own woodland setting.
Next up was one of TG's most anticipated bands of the festival Frankie & The Heartstrings. Writing intelligent pop songs with a traditional band set-up these days is almost unheard of, but these guys manage to seem classic and fresh all at the same time. Guitarist Michael McKnight struggled through the show, thanks in no small part to his battered Epiphone Wilshire's tuning problems (it was literally held together by tape!), but still pulled off his choppy riffs and lead lines with aplomb. Perhaps our favourite band of the festival, charismatic frontman Frankie Francis had no trouble converting passers by into true-believers and, providing someone gives McKnight a new guitar, they're bound for bigger things. Check out TG204 (on sale now) for a Those About To Rock piece on the band and Free Track Friday for a free download.
Saturday night headliners in the Word Arena, The xx, turned a lot of heads this past year and rightly so, having pretty much invented a new genre. However, despite a certain understated charisma and an awesomely atmospheric entrance, the band couldn't sustain the momentum required of a great headliner off the back of only one album. Occasional foot shuffles and hand-stares aside, there was plenty to admire, not least guitarist Romy Madley Croft's otherworldly guitar tones.