Highlights: Latitude Festival - Day Three (19/07/2009)

Seb Perry | Thursday, 23 July 2009

Highlights: Latitude Festival - Day Three (19/07/2009)

Latitude's final day brought powerhouse performances from the likes of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Gossip and Editors, as well as sublime nostalgia trips by recently reformed Scottish indie legends The Vaselines and influential post-punkers Magazine. But none quite met the standard set by one special guest star, of which more later.

Hjaltalín are a nine-piece band from Iceland and were cruelly allocated a lunchtime slot where almost no one got to hear them. This was a travesty, because their disarmingly melodic prog-pop was a treat from start to finish, aswirl with lush boy-girl harmonies, brass and woodwind - and wry lyrics like, "You spend all your time checking if you have new messages on Myspace." Put their album Sleepdrunk Sessions at the top of your wishlist.

The rain returned to Latitude with a vengeance that afternoon, with many taking shelter in the Sunrise tent, only to be blown away by Israeli folk-funk rockers Asaf Avidan & The Mojos. His style might not have been to everyone's taste, but what captivated throughout was the sheer force and flexibility of his voice, which called to mind early R'n'B singers like Little Richard or Big Mama Thornton.

Next up were Villagers, a band of youthful Dubliners who could probably benefit from taking themselves a bit less seriously. Their songs, anchored around singer Conor O'Brien's literate lyrics and solemn voice, weren't bad at all, but there was a humourlessness to proceedings that grew tiresome. But Villagers were at least part of the weekend's most startling spectacle when, during their doom-laden set closer 'Pieces', the weight of rain accumulating in the folds of the Sunrise Tent finally tore the roof open, drenching the stage and audience. It was as if the apocalypse had come.

But Sunday was only ever going to be about one event – the hour-long solo appearance by Thom Yorke at noon. "Sssh, there are people sleeping," he joked as he came on. Actually, it didn't look like there were – the main arena was probably more packed than it's ever been at that time of day. Hecklers shouted out requests but Yorke had no intention of resorting to easy Radiohead crowd pleasers like 'Karma Police' or (dream on) 'Creep'.

Alternating between piano and guitar, with some drum samples and loops thrown in to assist, Yorke largely played tracks from his 2006 solo debut The Eraser, including the snarling 'Harrowdown Hill' – his tribute to the late David Kelly – and a slowed down piano version of 'Atoms For Peace'. He even debuted a new song, 'Present Tense', which found its way onto Youtube within minutes.

From the Radiohead back catalogue, he went for obscure songs "from the shelf", like the Tony Blair-referencing 'Follow Me Around', last seen being rehearsed at a soundcheck in the band's 1998 tour documentary Meeting People Is Easy, and closed with an aching 'True Love Waits' from the band's live EP I Might Be Wrong.

"I thought this was a nuts idea – that's why I did it," Yorke admitted towards the end. But rock's most renowned misery guts was grinning throughout – and that really was an achievement.