One of the best aspects about Latitude Festival was that it was incredibly chilled out to the extent that you could be incredibly close to the front even five minutes before an act started on stage. I’m one of those people that hate pushing my way to the front but also love to be as close as possible so when I was at the barrier for Laura Mvula I was certainly pleased. Latitude Festival have a comedy tent, literature tent, poetry tent, cabaret tent, theatre, and several music stages and my top three musical acts were:
I won’t lie, in the past, without having listened to Grimes before, I thought she was girly teen-pop. I decided to see why there was so much enthusiasm around her by visiting her set in the 6 Music tent. I was impressed and I’ll probably go buy her album simply after that performance. She stood centre stage switching between synths, keyboards, guitar, and dancing on stage singing with her two amazing dancers that were equally strong in performance. Grimes is an alien powerhouse and a human bullet whose feminine vocal pitch is a reminder of her influence as a woman in the music industry and her ‘I do what I want regardless of what you think and I experiment with my music’ attitude is a strong message for her audience, especially the younger kids.
I remember downloading Mvula’s ‘Sing to the Moon’ track as part of iTunes free tune of the week promotion four years ago, so when I stood at the barrier almost directly in front of her the first time I saw her live I almost teared up. Part of what made Mvula’s performance so special on the Obelisk stage that Sunday afternoon was that she was accompanied on stage by her brother playing cello and her sister playing guitar, it wasn’t just her talent alone–it was a family affair. I rate an artist who can make music, and Laura can push her vocals away from the recorded album and give the audience an equally magical piece such as a different rendition of one of her other songs. Her confidence seeped into the crowd and, from what I could tell at the front, everyone was really enjoying it too.
Similarly to Laura, I got introduced to Michael Kiwanuka through the iTunes free tune about four years ago, his recent album release (about a week ago!) was a surprise to me because I’m not the sort of person to follow musicians lives; many of the people I listen to could pass me on the street and I wouldn’t have a clue. Michael Kiwanuka’s soulful vibes stretched the field and the whole crowd bopped and clapped along to his upbeat tunes. Although I feel everyone can appreciate music no matter where it originates or what influenced it I felt that an incredibly white audience clapping along to ‘Black Man In A White World’ didn’t sit as easily with me. The majority of the audience participated in the musicality of a song which contains (catchy) lyrics that as white people we can’t empathise with and I felt it was more of a reminder of the lack of diversity in the Latitude Festival audience.