Latitude Festival team’s must-see picks

Hofesh Shechter. Photo: Gabriele Zucca

Hofesh Shechter. Photo: Gabriele Zucca - Credit: Archant

So much to see, so little time. If you haven’t decided what to do yet, entertainment writer Wayne Savage talks to arts curator Tania Harrison, music curator Natasha Haddad and festival founder Melvin Benn


Weaves - Credit: Archant

If you thought Latitude’s stage curators got a free pass to see whatever they want to see, think again.

“There are things I’m tremendously excited about and things that have taken forever to get including people like Louis Theroux but God help everyone trying to get into that,” Tania laughs.

“I did say to him ‘do you want to do a couple of shows’ but I think that was just a little too much for him, he’s such a busy guy; so yeah I’ll be queuing myself for that.”

He’s one of several highlights picked out by Tania, who you may have seen at Landscape with Monsters By C!RCA and Sadler’s Wells presentation of The Bad by the Hofesh Shechter company last night.

Familie Floz's Teatro Delusio. Photo: Pierre Borasci

Familie Floz's Teatro Delusio. Photo: Pierre Borasci - Credit: Archant

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“Vamos Cuba! are flying in literally from Cuba tonight, which will be pretty special on The Waterfront. The comedy, I hope that speaks for itself. In theatre terms there are quite a few things that are pretty strong. We’ve gone quite international in the theatre this year.

“Familie Floz’s Teatro Delusio, I know that’s going to be an incredible great show and I desperately want to see that. There are quite a few things in The Little House, it’s full of collaborations with lots of different artists. There’s where I would be tonight.”

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Tania relishes the challenge of helping make the festival fresh and exciting each time.

“I was saying once ‘you’re only good as your last festival’ and Melvin (Benn, festival founder) said ‘Tania, you’re only as good as your next festival’. It’s a good way to think about it, to try to bring something new and exciting.

Comedian Russell Howard

Comedian Russell Howard - Credit: Archant

“The whole Wellcome Trust Hub strand (a series of talks by some of the bright minds in science, the humanities and social sciences) has really become very strong at the festival. We’ve done pretty well with the comedy too.”

Armed with a wish list that, she laughs, changes daily; Tania and the rest of the programmers are already thinking about what would be great for next year’s festival. She’s already had conversations with theatre companies.

“You’re always thinking about how to make it diverse.”

Natasha, busy wrangling acts for the multiple music stages, was clear on her choices - straying away from headliners like Maccabees, The National and New Order who speak for themselves.

Louis Theroux

Louis Theroux - Credit: Archant

First up are Weaves, playing the Sunrise Arena from 2.40pm today. Known for making bent out of shape pop music that’s catchy and unpredictable they’ve only released one EP and during the year and bit they’ve been playing live together. There’s a lot of buzz around band, recently chosen as Rolling Stone’s “Band To Watch”.

Her next pick, Artful Dodger; one of the most commercially successful UK Garage acts to have emerged from the scene to date. They play the Sunrise Arena late tonight.

Third is Sturgill Simpson, dubbed by critics as the saviour of traditional country music. He plays the Obelisk Arena from 12.50pm tomorrow.

Christine and the Queens, playing the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage today, is the must-see artist of this year. If you saw her recent appearance on Graham Norton, you’ll know what you’re in for - a freaky pop show where music, theatre, dance and video combine.

Natasha’s final choice is Michael Kiwanuka, playing the Obelisk Arena from 2.30pm on Sunday. His 2012 debut album Home Again was released to widespread critical acclaim. He spent most of 2014 and 2015 working on the follow-up, produced alongside Danger Mouse and Inflo.

For Melvin, comedian Katherine Ryan - playing the Comedy Arena from 5.15pm today - being there is as good as it gets.

“She’s just fantastic. Katherine, for me, could be the headliner comfortably. To have Bill Bailey (playing the Comedy Arena, Sunday, from 5.30pm)... He’s amazing, I can still remember the last set he played here, he was doing a sketch about one of The Killers’ songs, it was just extraordinary. I was saying to someone earlier, one of the things that’s great about the Kids Area and the kids being here is they get to see their parents having a good time and a having a laugh. Being able to see people laugh, it’s a treat isn’t it?”

One of the joys of Latitude is its warm and receptive audience, adds Melvin, who’s already offered acts slots for for next year. And the exposure it gives acts.

“The truth is there were genuinely 15,000-20,000 people saw Ed Sheerhan make his first festival appearance here. Equally there will be 500 people who will see AYA make their first festival performance. Looking and listening to them, I’ll be very surprised if they don’t become a main stage act.

“Florence and the Machine’s first headline performance was here, Foal’s first headline performance was here and they’re heading the Reading and Leeds Festival this year... Catfish and The Bottlemen played the Alcove stage, James Bay made his first appearance there. Latitude’s important at whatever level you perform at because the audience are so good - if you engage with them you’ll build a fanbase.”

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