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Page last updated at 23:49 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Latitude Festival gets a youthful makeover for 2010
By Richard Haugh
BBC Suffolk

Florence and the Machine
BBC Introducing was an early supporter of Florence and the Machine

Florence and the Machine, Vampire Weekend and Belle & Sebastian have been announced as the musical headliners for Latitude Festival 2010.

Tom Jones, The XX, Grizzly Bear, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Empire of the Sun and Rodrigo y Gabriella will also appear at Henham Park, 15-18 July.

Emo Philips, Ardal O'Hanlon and Tommy Tiernan lead the comedy line up.

And for the first time, BBC Suffolk Introducing will be taking three local acts to play at Latitude.

Latitude Festival returns to the Suffolk coast for a fifth year, promising once again to be 'more than just a music festival'.

With three stages dedicated to theatre, a poetry tent, literary tent and a new Faraway Forest, Latitude is living up to its mission statement.

But for many, especially at the festival's launch event in Covent Garden, the identity of the musical headliners was the most eagerly anticipated.

Ancient and modern

Last year the term 'heritage acts' was being used to refer to main arena headliners Grace Jones, Pet Shop Boys and Nick Cave. In 2010 it's very different.

"This year I think we've got the balance better than we've ever had before," said Festival Republic's managing director Melvin Benn.

"The three headliners represent what's hot and what's brilliant, generally, but they also represent Latitude very well - which is terrific."

Tom Jones
Tom Jones, who played Glastonbury in 1992 and 2009

Someone who could be described as heritage though is Tom Jones who's going to be making a special midnight appearance on Thursday at the tiny In The Woods stage.

He'll be performing songs from his Praise & Blame album which saw him going back to his roots with an American traditional folk, country and gospel sound.

"It's food for thought, it's real, it's natural, and in that sense it's truly me," said Tom.

Florence and the Machine have enjoyed a meteoric rise to top billing status.

Early exposure came from BBC Introducing and the controversial use of Kiss With A Fist on a TV advert, which forced singer Florence Welch to distance herself from any perceived connection with domestic violence.

The band received the Critics' Choice award at the 2009 Brit Awards and returned a year later to pick up the Best British Album award for debut Lungs.

"I shouldn't be in love with Florence and the Machine in the way that I am - she's just incredible," said Melvin.

"She's taken the UK by storm and rightly so. The album is fantastic, her performance is fantastic, and for this to be her first headline performance delights me."

Along with Florence and the Machine, Friday night will see the return of The National, who are headlining the Word Arena - the second largest stage, formerly sponsored by Uncut magazine.

For Belle and Sebastian, Latitude will be one of a "select number of shows around the world" where they'll be showcasing work from their forthcoming album, their first in four years.

Vampire Weekend at the BBC Radio One Big Weekend
New Yorkers Vampire Weekend headline Sunday night

"Belle and Sebastian are Latitude in a way," said Melvin.

"It's taken us five years to get them, we've been talking to them every year, but it's a great time to have them because they're recording again."

The Glaswegians will headline the Obelisk Stage on Saturday night, whilst Londoners The XX find them elevated from last year's Lake Stage set to top the Word Arena.

Vampire Weekend, who will close the festival on Sunday night, are a blogging success story.

Early support for tracks Mansard Roof and Oxford Comma made them one of the most popular searches on the influential Hype Machine website, before their eponymous debut album and the instant dancefloor filler A-Punk made them modern day indie heroes.

"Some people say Vampire Weekend are too poppy, some people say this, some people say that. I think they're great," said Melvin, who is delighted to welcome back one of the success stories of Latitude Festival 2007.

"Having Rodrigo y Gabriela come on before them - Sunday night is going to be a great party."

Two years ago Latitude introduced a fourth headline slot, with harpist Joanna Newsom opening the main stage on Sunday.

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke followed suit in 2009 and music booker Jon Dunn says the slot has become a key part of the festival.

"Within two years it's become fundamental in the programme - it's a unique spot.

"Joanna was so special and so gifted, and to follow it with Thom last year has really set our stall out and made it quite difficult.

"There are a few things we've spoken about but we actually don't have anything in mind yet."

Raised expectations

Tania Harrison is responsible for overseeing the non-musical entertainment at Latitude.

"It's my job to do the more bit," she said with regards to Latitude's tag line. "This year I think we've gone a bit more decadent, a bit more sexy."

Emo Philips
Emo Philips is one of the first big names booked for the comedy tent

Tania expects Les Enfants Terribles, Emo Philips and Tommy Tiernan to be highlights at Latitude, along with the introduction of the new Faraway Forest which will host a masked ball.

"One goes to a festival to be a part of yourself that you can't be during your everyday life at work.

"It's about dressing up in a mask, be whoever you want to be."

A big arts announcement is promised around Easter time, with Tania and Melvin saying the launch line up is just the beginning.

But then, with four festivals behind them, Tania says they're becoming victims of their own success.

"What had the wow factor in year one is now expected by the audience - they expect Thom Yorke hanging from a tree upside down with a circus face. That's apparently the norm now.

"I've got to think about things that are more creative, more wild and that people haven't seen before.

"That gives me quite a few sleepless nights."

BBC Suffolk Introducing at Latitude

Every year Huw Stephens, the man described as "the best DJ in the world" by Melvin Benn, pulls together some of the country's most exciting musical talents to perform on the Lake Stage at Latitude.

The Cheek, the Lake Stage, Latitude Festival 2009
The Cheek opened the Lake Stage at Latitude in 2009

Golden Silvers, Marina and the Diamonds and The XX are amongst the acts to have played the stage which has a prime location at Henham Park.

In 2010, BBC Suffolk Introducing has been invited by Huw to get involved with the stage, to showcase some of the talent we feature on our weekly Thursday night show.

"To get the cream of new Suffolk talent on to the stage we're handing over to BBC Introducing in Suffolk to choose the bands and artists who will open up the stage," said Huw.

"It's a good slot. It's better, really, than the end slot."

Myself and Graeme Mac, presenters of BBC Suffolk Introducing, will be deciding the three acts alongside Huw.

So if you're making music and want to be considered for this, as well as other opportunities and airplay with BBC Introducing, submit your tracks via the BBC Uploader .

Melvin Benn is supporting the involvement of Suffolk bands, but warns the quality will have to match the rest of the bill.

"Latitude Festival has a quality threshold," he said.

"One shouldn't play the festival because one is from Suffolk, one should play it because you're capable of playing it and capable of entertaining the audience."

Latitude 2010 sold-out in advance and has a capacity of 35,000 for its fifth year.



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