Monday, 22 July 2013

Birding the Latitude Festival 2013?

Kraftwerk, Latitude Festival 2013, Southwold, Suffolk - 20th July 2103

Well, no, but I bet you’d achieve quite a list if you tried. Latitude Festival is staged at Henham Park, Southwold: only a 30-mitute bike ride to the birding site of Minsmere, and even closer to Dunwich and Westleton Heaths, Corporation Marshes at Warberwick, and the coast at Southwold. Good birding pedigree.

I did see a few Wood Pigeons flying over the site on the Saturday we were there, and my 8-year-daughter called out a Red Kite only to find it was a high-soaring Herring Gull (good shout all the same). I was only there for one thing, and it wasn’t the birds. It was Kraftwerk. But more of that later…

Comma, Little Waldingfield, Suffolk - Friday 19th July 2013

We (me and the family) stayed the weekend at Little Waldingfield, near Sudbury in Suffolk. Lovely place. The weather was hot and sunny, so I spent Friday outside, en famille, walking and kind-of looking at wildlife. Sparrowhawk was the bird of the morning, high over the village, but the insects were more rewarding. Nothing rare, just common species, and all really enjoyable to see in a rural setting on a hot summer's day: Red-tailed Bumblebee, Soldier Beetle, Seven-spot Ladybird, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Comma, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Large Skipper, and a possible Southern (or Norfolk) Hawker.

Probable Wood Pigeon egg, Little Waldingfield, Suffolk - Friday 19th July 2013
Soldier Beetles, Little Waldingfield, Suffolk - Friday 19th July 2013

It was so hot by the afternoon we needed to dip our kids in some open water. We weren’t near the coast, but the River Stour at Bures on the Suffolk/Essex border was perfect.

Common Blue Damselfly, Bures, Suffolk - Friday 19th July 2013

Blue-tailed Damselfly, Bures, Suffolk - Friday 19th July 2013

Banded Demoiselle, Bures, Suffolk - Friday 19th July 2013

Mute Swans, Bures, Suffolk - Friday 19th July 2013

Later we went to Flatford Mill – hone to a Field Studies Centre, and somewhere I have considered studying for a while. This place is idyllic…

The Hay Wain, Flatford Mill, Suffolk - Friday 19th July 2013

Black-tailed Skimmer, Flatford Mill, Suffolk - Friday 19th July 2013

As for Latitude Festival itself, we were only there as day visitors so I can’t vouch for the weekend as a whole. But, the Saturday we were there was great. Most of our time was spent entertaining the kids (I’ve got quite a graze on my arm from one of my trips down the helter skelter), but we did see a couple of bands. I enjoyed Hot Chip, on just before Kraftwerk, with their so-uncool-we’re-cool vibe. Perfect for the mix of punter at the festival (sort of youngsters who’ve raided their parents’ record collections and parents with a lifetime of obscure gigs under their belts). 

We spotted Neon Neon were performing with the National Theatre Wales, and so quickly joined the queue (my wife has a Gruff Rhys fetish). The show - Praxis Makes Perfect - was excellent. It was the story of the millionaire communist publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, his battles with Soviet Russia, his friendship with Fidel Castro, and ultimately his death in Italy trying to blow up a pylon. All a bit bonkers and great.

Luke gets into the Kraftwerk vibe

I’ve liked Kraftwerk since I was a kid, when my older brother used to play their albums over his home-made, in-house radio station (which had an audience of two: me and my mum). I still remember like it was yesterday going to Boots in Ashton-under-Lyne with my pocket money to buy Kraftwerk’s Computer Love / The Model double A-side.

As with all things Kraftwerk, the show was immaculate: the synthesised tones pure and sweet, the 3D visuals simple yet striking, the songs pristine moments of understated pop. So much of their set sounded fresh and new, yet was presented in the same form as it was in the 70s and 80s. To say they influenced modern electronic music is a severe understatement: they drew up such a perfect blueprint that few have strayed from it since.

The Robots, Numbers, Computer World, Home Computer, Computer Love, The Man-Machine, Spacelab (complete with a 3D Skylab coming out of the screen to loads of cheering), The Model, Neon Lights… What can I say? Perfection.

Due to tired kids, we had to leave partway through Autobahn, hearing Tour de France in the distance as we made our way to the car park. I could have watched and listened to them all night. Respect to Latitude for putting them on.

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