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The day the music (almost) died: Mud, sweat and beers at Latitude

PUBLISHED: 17:16 20 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:04 23 July 2019

An electrical storm delays the Saturday line up at Latitude Festival 2019. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

An electrical storm delays the Saturday line up at Latitude Festival 2019. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Sometimes claggy, sometimes sloppy and often with a dubious aroma, Saturday at Latitude festival began with just one word on everyone's lips: "mud."

An electrical storm delays the Saturday line up at Latitude Festival 2019. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodAn electrical storm delays the Saturday line up at Latitude Festival 2019. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

Friday evening brought heavy downpours to Henham Park, near Southwold, dampening spirits and leaving some festivalgoers dashing for their tents early.

And headliner George Ezra - with his seemingly unending array of samey, soporific, summery tunes - felt like he was rubbing salt in the wounds. "Riding shotgun underneath the hot sun" seemed a long way from reality as the rain lashed down in deepest, darkest Suffolk.

And overnight the inclement weather did little to calm nerves that 2019 could turn in to the year of the brown stuff.

Perhaps because of the precipitation, Latitude was slow to emerge this morning. And when the thousands of red eyes glanced anxiously heavenward they were greeted by threatening clouds.

An electrical storm delays the Saturday line up at Latitude Festival 2019. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodAn electrical storm delays the Saturday line up at Latitude Festival 2019. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

But some brave souls took a chance arriving at the entrance dressed as fairies and angels with tutus, wings and even sparkly flip flops. They were soon running for cover - neon nail varnish so loving applied the night before now pebble-dashed with mud.

As the first burgers of the day began to be tossed the heavens opened - and and it threatened to be biblical.

There were rumours of thunder rumbling in the distance and lightning flashes. Everyone gathered around phones with their fingers crossed and disposable ponchos at the ready - according to the weather apps a storm was brewing.

One rather nervous festivalgoer in a snaking queue for coffee even ventured: "Oh no ... what if the tent is struck by lightning? If this rain carries on I'm leaving. And they have run out of chai latte."

Then the skies darkened and word began to filter out bands were being cancelled - confusion reigned but the weather did not. The festival confirmed the three main stages would be halted over lightning strike worries.

After a short break - and a quick downpour - we were back up and running. Better safe than sorry - the music hadn't died. Phew.

And then what felt like a miracle - proper, unbroken sunshine. And within an hour the mud had gone, the fairy's flip flops were dry and the mood improved. In the sunshine the beers flowed and some even worked up a sweat dancing along with those evening bands desperate for the attention of the crowd.

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Beth Calver, 29, from Lowestoft, visits Latitude every year and admits to being nervous about the weather on Saturday morning.

"I was expecting a mud bath - and to be honest when I first arrived on site it wasn't far off," she said.

"But the sun came out and everyone cheered up. The vodka probably helped as well."

Jon Harris, 38, was visiting Henham Park for the first time and had brought his two-year-old twins along as well.

"People think we are mad bringing toddlers to a music festival and there have been moments so far when I'd have to agree with them. We've got this cart to pull the kids around though and last night they fell asleep by 9pm so it was fine. Me and my partner danced to Primal Scream and had a drink.

"This morning when they woke up at 6am screaming and it was chucking it down outside ... that was the moment when I questioned whether or not we should have brought two small children to Latitude.

"But now the sun is out. It's glorious and the kids are having a great time."

Early relief from the weather came from Wearside indie popsters The Futureheads who still feel like a band who could be the next big thing despite getting close to a 20-year career - even if their set was cut short.

And Brighton's The Magic Gang also got the crowd smiling on the BBC Sounds Stage with a mix of jingle, jangle and their grandad's Beach Boys' LPs.

But it seemed the band everyone wanted to see on Saturday was Welsh indie plod-rockers The Stereophonics - and they weren't even supposed to play.

The late stand-ins for the injured Snow Patrol had the site buzzing ahead of their set.

One cheeky punter was overheard saying: "Getting Stereophonics instead of Snow Patrol is a bit like going to the dentist for a filling and being told you qualify to get another for free."

And there was also a treat in store for those who preferred something a bit more challenging than bouncy, 1990s, three-cord indie with electro legends Underworld taking over the main stage and geek-chic art rockers Everything Everything on the BBC stage.

And the best news? Sunday's weather is set for sunshine.

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