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>Day 125: Latitude Saturday

21 July, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s highlight – Doves

Relaxed start to the day today, hanging round the tents until the Arena opened at around ten. After wandering around the Village we made our way into the Arena and had a quick coffee, sitting at one of the many picnic tables dotted around. Decided we ought to eat, so invested in the festival staple, the Aussie Steak Sandwich – combo version. A freshly baked baguette, stuffed to the gunnels with steak, bacon, onion and cheese. Delicious, although naturally I managed to lose half of it in the eating – unwieldy rascal, the combo!

After lunch, we hung around the Lake Stage, where we saw The New York Fund and The Cheek.

I’d seen The New York Fund last year, in a similar slot, and was very impressed by them. Essentially one Scottish bloke, supported by either his regular band (who seem to have a problem getting to Latitude) or, as in this case, his mate – who apparently had only learned the songs that morning (yeah, right). In any event, it was a good set of originals with a couple of interesting covers – good band, and I’d be made up if they gained a following. Find ’em on iTunes and MySpace – or below…check them out, they’re good!

http://cache.reverbnation.com/widgets/swf/15/widgetPlayer.swf?emailPlaylist=artist_243796&backgroundcolor=EEEEEE&font_color=000000&posted_by=artist_243796&shuffle=&autoPlay=false

The Cheek used to be called ‘Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds’ and were being touted in some circles as the Next Big Thing. They weren’t. So, regrouped and renamed, here they are near the bottom of the bill on one of the festival’s smallest stages. Not difficult to understand why – indie by numbers with nothing to set them apart from a thousand other bands.

I believe Beer was taken at this stage. Specifically, a wicked brew called ‘Scarecrow’, recommended by our neighbours, and which slipped down a treat, on this and many more occasions over the weekend. Hic!

So off to the Obelisk, where we caught the tail end of Datarock (European electro-stuff in red hoodies). We then sat in the sun listening to Broken Records from Edinburgh, who we liked a lot – a bit Arcade Fire-y (in a good way). We then caught the beginning of The Airborne Toxic Event, about whom I’d heard good things but who were a bit, well, meh, I think the expression is. So we wandered off for an explore, which took us into the Woods and to the Sunrise Arena, where we saw some of the DM Stith set. My God, he is so sensitive! A lot of Buckley pere et fils (but mostly pere), a lot of eyes closed, acoustic guitar (of course) and a bloody cello! He made Nick Drake sound like Motorhead.

Needing something a bit more meaty to listen to, we went back to the Obelisk stage for White Lies. Last year they opened the stage in front of about a hundred people, this year the stage was mobbed. They’ve come a long way in twelve months! Clearly influenced by Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen, they do use these influences well and are well worth the price of admission.

Oh, before White Lies, we inadvertently caught the tail end of Patrick Wolf‘s set. Oh my. Did I mention how camp Of Montreal were yesterday? Well Patrick showed me there are levels of campness that I did not know existed. He made Of Montreal look as camp as….actually no, just look at the picture. Actually, the music was not half bad, once you got past the image. He might just yet be the next big thing…

At this stage I have a confession to make. You know me as a hardened festival goer, forged in the mud of Glastonbury 2007, prepared for all weathers and every eventuality, no matter how extreme the elements or the conditions. Well, reader, today I weakened. You see dotted around the Obelisk Stage are a small number of shiny blue plastic seats, arranged in four mini-stands, if you will. And yes, we sat in the seats throughout Saturday evening. With the old people and the little children.

Simon made me do it.

Anyway, Doves were up next. Saw them recently as well, as described here. Ace little band, a bit in the shadow of their good friends Elbow (who coincidentally had the same slot on Saturday last year) but with some great tunes and a stonking new album I have already pushed hard on the blog. Go out and buy it! They didn’t disappoint either, a great set that was well-paced and full of little gems. The final two songs – The Cedar Room and There Goes The Fear – were as good as anything else we heard all weekend.

So decisions – should we hang around for Grace Jones or should we do something more interesting and worthwhile? The latter, obviously. Caught the tail end of Bombay Bicycle Club on the Lake Stage, who were ok in a jangly, slightly twee indie way. Whether they justify the hype they are currently getting – I’m not so sure.

Wandered across into the Cabaret area to see a rather strange production involving dome tents that I’m sure was hugely meaningful and significant. If it was, it went way over my head. Fun though. Then the rain came, just as we went to catch a bit of Grace Jones, who seemed to be doing as much costume changing as singing (or, in her case, talking). Underwhelmed, we left to drink beer.

Finally we headed into the Guilty Pleasures tent, where an ’80s Prom night was in progress. Hung around for an hour or so, soaking up the ’80s vibe (Kevin, you’d have loved it) then back to the tent in anticipation of a quiet night. As it was, our neighbours had other ideas and we ended up sat around the fire chatting and drinking until about three.

Happy days!

>Day 114: Bye Glasto, Hi Latitude!

8 July, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Doves – The Best of Doves

Yes, I know we’ve had Doves on the soundtrack before, but there’s nowt wrong with that. They’ve come up courtesy of my new iTunes ‘Latitude’ playlist, 826 songs of beefy goodness incorporating all the artist on iTunes that are playing at this year’s Latitude Festival. Including Doves, of course.

So why the focus on Latitude today? Well, two reasons really. Firstly, my ticket arrived today (yay!) which in itself is enough to set the pulse racing. But secondly, I have been emailed by an increasingly giddy mate who is soooo looking forward to the festival, and we have been swapping notes on itinerary, packing lists etc in advance of next week, when it all kicks off.

Up to now, most of my festival focus has been on Glastonbury, with Latitude too far off to get excited about. But now Glasto’s gone, and Latitude is rapidly appearing over the horizon.

So why is Latitude so good? Well essentially, it’s Glastonbury in concentrated format – smaller scale, fewer stages, but a really good ratio of quality to dross and a really good history of dropping a few gems quietly into the mix.

The big surprise this year was the announcement of Thom Yorke performing on Sunday lunchtime, completely out of leftfield that one. I was also (pleasantly) surprised today to see Tricky performing on the Uncut Stage on the Sunday – not sure when that was announced, but it had completely passed me by as well.

Some interesting headliners this year – I already know that the Pet Shop Boys and Nick Cave will be ace, having seen them both already in the last month or so – so Grace Jones will be the really interesting one. Similarly, I’ve seen Magazine, Doves and the Gaslight Anthem recently and know that there’s some real quality there. Then you have the likes of Squeeze and Pretenders – old favourites from back in the day – and quality indie from the likes of Editors and White Lies.

And that’s before even considering the bands on the smaller stages that I know nothing about yet! Last year, there were a number of bands I’d never heard before who made a big impression – White Lies, who opened proceedings on the Saturday morning, The Maybes?, The Beep Seals, Johnny Foreigner, Beggars, Nada Surf, I Am Kloot… if this year’s hit rate is anything like as good, it will be a great festival.

I might even find some time to spend in the comedy/theatre/literature areas this year as well!

Now, just need to start checking the weather forecast….

In other news, it was another domestic day today, baking (French rustic loaf, since you ask) and finishing the ironing. I also found time to finish my latest book – called ‘Man on Wire’, the story of a Frenchman who managed to string a high wire between the Twin Towers during the final stages of their construction back in 1972/3 and to walk between the two buildings. It’s a fascinating story, if wrapped up in a bit too much cod-philosophy for me. apparently there is a documentary on the walk that’s been released recently and will no doubt pitch up on DVD soon, which must be worth a look as well.

I’ve now started reading ‘Homicide’ the book written by David Simon, creator of The Wire, about the year he spent shadowing the Baltimore Homicide Department, and which provided a lot of the raw material that informed The Wire and made it as true to life as I am sure it is. Another fascinating read so far, but a long way to go!

So some more Doves for your enjoyment – Jetstream, recorded live at Delamere the other week. I must have been standing about six feet away from the bloke filming this!

>Day 97: Glastonbury – let planning commence!

21 June, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Doves – The Best Of Doves

Son No 1 headed off back down south today, after a detour to pick up Son No 2 from Huddersfield – so with the house quiet it was time to start the planning for next week in earnest.

First job: Print off the Glastonbury Clashfinder and do some preliminary planning on who to see and when. A plan that will probably last until Friday afternoon, then to be consigned to the back of the tent as I make it up as I go along.

For what it’s worth,there appears to be an unhealthy focus on the Pyramid this year – that will have to be rectified on the fly I think. But at the moment the highlights are looking like this:

Friday – White Lies, Steel Pulse, The Specials and Neil Young
SaturdayTinariwen, Eagles of Death Metal, Spinal Tap (oh yes!), The Gaslight Anthem, CSN, Tindersticks and Brooce
Sunday – Easy Star All Stars, The Status Quo, Amadou & Miriam, Glenn Tilbrook, Madness, Nick Cave and Blur

Next job: Start piling up all the essentials in the spare room. Shorts, t-shirts, bandanas, beads, ponchos, hats, the usual stuff. Take a long look at the pile of stuff and then put half of it back in the cupboard. Root out torches, cameras, batteries etc. Going to risk taking the expensive camera this year – it’s bigger and heavier, but takes far better pictures in low light than the cheap compact one. Defeats the object really, taking a small and light camera if you can’t take any decent pictures with it!

Finally today – give the booze shopping a bit of thought. It’s looking like a serious booze run on Tuesday – a run that will involve the purchase of a vodka drink, a gin drink and a white wine drink. And some cheap red bull substitute (got to keep my energy levels up!) At the very least. Oh, and some cereal bars to take away and bring back, uneaten.

One band I won’t be seeing at Glastonbury is Doves – saw them last week as reported, and will see them at Latitude next month – and they clash with Neil Young as well. The ‘best of’ I’m listening to now was a download, and I don’t think was ever an official release by the group – I’m guessing it’s a ‘fan compilation’ put together and uploaded to a music blog. No matter – I’ve got all the official albums anyway, so the group’s not losing out due to this bit of downloading. The compilation pre-dates ‘Kingdom of Rust’ but cherrypicks nicely from the group’s first three albums. Definitely suits a relaxed afternoon’s listening.

Here’s ‘There Goes the Fear’ recorded live in 2002.

Categories: Doves, Glastonbury

>Days 89-91: Where did the weekend go?

15 June, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Jeniferever – Choose a Bright Morning

Apologies for the slight break in service – must’ve been busy for the last few days!

No idea where Friday went – sitting here three days later I’m struggling to remember a single thing I did…which probably means I spent the whole day sat in front of the computer ‘fannying about’ for want of a better expression.

The computer gets a fair amount of hammering in our house, largely due to me it has to be said, and is beginning to show signs of wear and tear. It occasionally decides to freeze on us, and has a tendency to present me with the ‘blue screen of death’ and turn itself off from time to time as well. It has also started to show graphical problems on occasion when I turn the thing on, with “artifacts” (which I think is the technical term) appearing on screen. This can be fixed using the ‘turn it off, then turn it on again’ technique that has served me well over the years – but for how long? More worryingly, one of the fans inside has begun to make a horrible whining sound and to spin more slowly than it should. The thing seems to be welded to the motherboard as well, so may not be easily replaceable. I’ve picked up another fan to mount inside the case for a fiver, but don’t think this will be a long term solution. We’ll see.

Son No 1 had another interview in Bristol on Friday – not yet heard whether he’s through to the next stage but good experience nonetheless.

Off to Huddersfield on Saturday to pick up Son No 2 and bring him home – Doves in Delamere Forest! Every summer around this time the Forestry Commission put on a series of outdoor concerts in the middle of the woods. This year, Doves are sandwiched in between Paul Weller on the Friday and Katherine Jenkins on the Sunday. Two years ago I went to see The Feeling there (I know, I know) but gave it a miss last year. A shame, because I missed out on seeing Elbow and I Am Kloot, both bands I was lucky enough to see later in the year anyway but it would have been a grand night out.

As it proved to be on Saturday. The forest is quite literally on our doorstep, but unfortunately there is no direct walking route from home – otherwise we’d walk. So there is a need to drive round three sides of a square and park up – a three minute drive, followed by a ten minute walk from the road to the stage.

Interesting dynamic at this concert – it’s all very middle class and comfortable, parties taking tables, chairs and hampers. It’s the only concert we’ve ever been to where the arena fills up from the back as people stake out little campsites with their rugs and such, leaving a big empty space in front of the stage.

So naturally, after a beer and a baguette we took up position on the barrier at the front.

Support band were called ‘Delphic’, a Manchester band in a kind of New Order/Klaxons style – lots of synths and sequencers combined with traditional guitar, drum and bass. And pretty good they were too – a short (30 minute?) set with individual songs running together. Not the most ‘visual’ of bands, especially when playing with their synths (oo-er missus) but not a bad way to spend half an hour.

By the time Doves came on, the space in front of the stage had filled up to an acceptable level and a bit more atmosphere was being generated – even some half-hearted crowd surfing a bit further along from us. Good band Doves – and they put on a good show with a decent number of encores and all the ‘hits’. They are on in the second headliner slot at Latitude so will definitely catch them again. I’ve recently said nice things about their new album, ‘Kingdom of Rust’, which is definitely worth your consideration. Nice bunch of blokes too.

So Sunday was largely taken up with a trip back to Huddersfield to drop the boy off, and with the conclusion of the first series of ‘The Shield’, again something I’ve talked about recently in glowing terms. The climax of the series didn’t disappoint either – so now on the lookout for Series Two. Still got a couple of boxes of CSI and The Corner to watch though.

We also started to catch up on Celebrity Masterchef, which is a bit of a guilty pleasure for Mrs W and myself. Cooking doesn’t get tougher….

Speaking of which, the second attempt at bread rolls was a resounding success on Saturday. This time, I progressed to a ‘wash’ with beaten egg and a sprinkling of grated cheese on top before baking, which gave a nice savoury tang to the crust. And hot from the oven, split and filled with grilled bacon, they were a joy.

Jeniferever – you’ve never heard of them either, have you? Great name though, you have to admit. Swedish band, although they sing in English, in a style most closely reminiscent of Sigur Ros without being as ‘otherworldly’ as their Icelandic counterparts.

‘Choose a Bright Morning’ is their first full album, released in 2006. It has recently been joined by Spring Tides, and both are worth a listen. Not on the festival circuit this year as far as I can tell, which is a shame.

This is ‘Alvik‘ from Choose a Bright Morning.

Categories: Andrew, Delphic, Doves, Jeniferever, Matt

>Day 87: Interview prep (but not mine!)

11 June, 2009 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack: Doves – Kingdom of Rust

Self-selected soundtrack today, using Spotify. Son No 1 is on the main computer which has all the music stored on it, so I’m typing this on the netbook and setting my own soundtrack. Need to do a bit of research anyway, as we are seeing Doves at the weekend and I need to familiarise myself a bit more with their oeuvre!

Son No 1 is busy researching for his upcoming interview tomorrow – he finally managed to make contact with the relevant company and get details of time and place, so he’s all set. I’ll take him into Manchester and meet up with old colleagues while he’s being grilled. It’ll be an interesting experience for him, whether successful or not. It scares me to see my kids making their first tentative steps into the ‘real’ world – there’s a temptation to do too much to prepare or advise them, but to be balanced with a need for them to be making their own way in the world, standing on their own two feet.

Makes me feel bloody old, as well…

Out early this morning, to get the weekly shop in. With Son No 1 up, we need to do a bit more menu planning to feed the extra body, and we’d decided on a chunky turkey curry tonight – memories of a turkey curry from the dim and distant past for me to try and replicate!

I do cheat a bit with my curries – not wanting to go to the trouble of grinding and mixing my own spices, I do revert to Patak’s curry pastes, which always seem to hit the mark. So Turkey Tikka Masala tonight, accompanied by a Vegetable Balti and a range of breads and rice.

With the son and heir up to stay, my life would not be worth living if I did not take him down to see the grandparents, so off we headed to deepest Birkenhead for a spot of lunch and chat. She puts on a decent spread, my old mum, and I feared for my appetite later in the day, especially after slaving over a hot stove and juggling copious numbers of pots and pans!

Having done our filial duty, we then headed off to the local farm shop to pick up some ‘Cheshire Farm’ ice creams, the ‘Coffee Mocha’ flavour being a particular favourite of Son No 1. We also picked up some ‘Malt Tease’ and ‘Honeycomb’ Ice creams as well….guess which particular sweets are incorporated into these particular tubs? The Cheshire Farm range are well worth seeking out, and as a ‘home grown’ alternative to Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Daas, are just the ticket. Not cheap though!

Back home to slave over pots and pans and, despite a concern that the potatoes in the veggy curry would not cook through quickly enough, everything came together quite nicely in the end.

We watched ‘Best in Show’ while chowing down on the curry, another of the Christopher Guest semi-improvised films (I blogged about ‘Waiting for Guffman’ recently, another from the same stable). Best in Show does stand repeated viewings though. Bit of a cliche, but the stars of the show are undoubtedly the dogs themselves!

So Doves. Over the last couple of years they have slipped into the shadow of local rivals and mates Elbow, and there are a lot of similarities between the sound and profile of the two bands. This year however, following the release of ‘Kingdom of Rust’ and a high profile on the festival circuit, it might just be Doves’ year. Kingdom of Rust is a fine album, indeed all their albums are worth a listen, and the have slightly more of a dance sensitivity than do Elbow, which I’m sure will go down well with the big outdoor crowds. as I said, seeing them in Delamere Forest at the weekend and also at Latitude later in the summer. They are headlining the John Peel tent at Glastonbury as well, but given I’ll be seeing them elsewhere, Neil Young will get the nod this time.

There’s an interesting clip of Doves performing Kingdom of Rust here, along with many other tasty (and not so tasty) bands. The conceit of this little website is that all the bands are filmed performing in the back of a standard black cab, driving round the streets of (I assume) London. Yes really. Well worth a look, the Doves clip in particular is very good.

And here they are on Jools Holland, performing the same song…

Categories: Andrew, Best in Show, Doves