Festival Frolics: Saturday, Latitude 2012.

The night spent staring at strangers and later fearing for a soggy form of inundation, Splashh go on to enliven early on with their umpteenth-hand lo-fi gimmickry, coming across as Watery, Domestic protruding up and out from the slough of muck that The i Arena has unfathomably become overnight. At barely midday, equally unbelievably it's time for Sharon Van Etten. Not only is her scheduling substantially off, but so too is her staging: Van Etten's live show thrives on intimacy. Like a yelping pup abandoned, in a setting such as Cargo, or the Scala she is as though reconvened with human touch; with flourishing compassion and – at least in our case – obsession. Shove her up in The Word Arena and she is as though mislaid, slipping – if only an iota – down toward mediocrity. She is of course anything but – a quintessentially seething Serpents, blissful 'n' blustery Leonard and an ever anthemic All I Can ensure all that. However in entirely neglecting Epic, despite the now almost mythical brilliance to Tramp it all feels a little one-dimensional, an ungracious heckle for Don't Do It greeted only with a nicely wry smirk and consequently made to sound more akin to a plea to clamber down from the precipice of ominous edifice than a song request per se. When you've only thirty-five minutes to enthral, withal, elongating I'm Wrong out into an enervating ramble of bowed strings and prickly feedback isn't particularly advisable as sentimentality continues to dissipate. A disappointment.
And that's a word that couldn't possibly feature in the Gospel According to Baxter Dury. What it would entail, however, is a list of names. Snatched from female acquaintances as you're left to presuppose he went and reciprocated something ignominious. The faint waft of Claire; the indier-than-thou jaunt of Isabel; the wretchedly baptised Rebecca Trollop of Cocaine Man; the lovelorn and disconsolate Katy of Leak At The Disco; his beloved backing lass Madelaine Hart: if he may be painted a modern-day Lothario then there's sufficient penitence within the mawkish drip to much of Happy Soup to warrant the awe of the endless innumerables. A scriptural re-imagining of the bedpost cliché transposed into song then, despite bits and pieces being drowned out in this fenny expanse Dury, as ever, can hack us into his slumber lumber as and when he pleases. Brandy or brandy not.
Wooden Shjips keep the sounds saturated with a diluted psych that's as though an aqueously inconsistent tie-dye whilst, at sixty-five, perchance a little more sodden of muddied jean is Daryl Hall. Reinforcing both all-pervasive '80s intimation and Latitude's proclivity for refuelled stars and studs of said epoch, even without the magnificently bewhiskered John Oates by his side and despite his voice being shot to utter shit Maneater remains utterly superb. Another still half-decent nostalgia act dredged out from Benn knows where, were he to veer a little closer to the delightful torpor to Out Of Touch and not the dreary dad rock of Save Me – the sort you'd expect to hear seeping out from the unrolled windows of a sluggish station wagon – he could be slathered across a fair few more festival bills this time next year. I infer doubt, as if the dubiously undercooked soul of recent single Eyes For You (Ain't No Doubt About It) whiffs of anything it's that Hall has himself lost touch with the times and despite declaring the track to be "doing well in the U.S." – all grim vocal trills and superfluous drum fills – I and I'd reckon many more can't go for that.
"There's quite a few people here", Kwes. disbelievingly mutters under his breath over on The Lake Stage and such self-effacing reflection would go on to grate were the rest of his set not quite so resplendent. Overtly bashful he remains (the lead track from his Meantime EP a quiet highlight that's propelled by post-punk blasts of distorted bass) although now seemingly integrated into his backing band of two as opposed to concentratedly instrumental within, and with the show now composed more of compositional pieces than of songs Kwesi Sey looks increasingly comfortable. He rounds things off – as on record – with the sublime lgoyh and raises the proverbial roof, with it raising the musing that he could go on to become the voice of a generation would he only speak up.
Never one to shy away from the mic, Richard Hawley looks out across what resembles a sullied Yorkshire Moor. His leg broken – perhaps in getting stuffed down some grotty pothole – he's wheeled out by Guy Garvey who again succumbs to that trite 'band of the people' appellation, before the very same people are left a little disenchanted by a spot of wearisome rawk from Standing At The Sky's Edge. Observing the man strum out sludgy riffage from the discomfort of a wheelchair is as unconventional as it is counterintuitive although the storm of oppressive gloom soon passes, Tonight The Streets Are Ours dawning like sunrise lacerating the minatory clouds to plague the skies for much of the weekend. Soul-searching then becomes the order of the eve, the lyric "Those people/ They've got nothing in their souls" jutting out prominently from its musical lucidity. You can practically smell the fetid stench of stale Yorkshire working men's smoke; the disco ball shimmy splattered across your prematurely wrinkled visage and yet this scintillating line pierces the impression. Such evocative imagery only accentuates that although there may be a deficiency in our common contemporary morality, modus vivendi and whatever else may be construed as byproducts of the soul, this stalwart of soft rock is dosed up on the stuff. That and the morphine derivative he's on today. Nonetheless the gentle rousing of this soul is something Hawley has always been quite adept at doing and although the slow swoons to Lady Solitude (see his lyrics of breaking into a certain psyche) and Open Up Your Door may not be Hawley breaking a leg as his wife suggest he did, they may rather be considered the tender caressing of the ears and the therapeutic nursing of the old anima.
Zonked, we sit. TOY play The Lake Stage; needless to say we've opted for a quite inopportune spot. Sounding like Common People stuck on perennial repeat and worse still lodged on fast-forward, someone with an ironic 'I ♡ Crap' tote bag saunters on past. It pretty much elucidates our estimation in one tawdry statement. Traditionally one would never approach SBTRKT with such negativity steaming out of every orifice, but today the luxury of subjectivity is scuppered by the most atrocious sound to have befallen any festival showing for as far as the mind doth recall. The muddiest on what has now become a bloody muddy weekend, bone-obliterating bass and acerbic soundcheck drums not only become focal points but the only points it's possible to focus on at all. Whether intentional or accidental, Living Like I Do is as such given a UKG rework and every kalimba intricacy of Hold On is blotted out, whilst Roses Gabor's prerecorded Pharaohs vocals are rendered entirely inaudible. The most intelligent dance/ pop crossover in veritable yonks is ergo dumbed down quite deplorably, with Sampha's role within it all nullified agonisingly which leaves Jerome looking like Freshers' Week entertainment and sounding a load more synonymous with such hideousness.
Dancing shoes thus donned and then promptly disposed of, when faced with the proposition of The Horrors' kicking up of dewy-eyed shoegaze or the belt-along brashness of Elbow both appear equally ill-advised. And immensely more so having witnessed Walls: nowhere near as restrictive as their moniker may insinuate, the duo comprising Sam Willis and Alessio Natalizia potion a heady blend of blip, ambience and pumping beat that is, again, considerably more flavourful than its ingredients may indicate. The muggy pulses of Heat Haze; the Autobahn whiz to Into Our Midst; the elastane bounce crucial to Sunporch all illuminate the pairing's powers and as the tent begins to lightly bulge, their time comes to a logical crescendo; one it's calculatedly built to over an all too concise timeframe. And on that unanticipated high, Saturday becomes time expired.

Josh Holliday / Emily Jeffrey-Barrett. 
Supplementary photography courtesy of Tom Rhys.