This year at Longitude, MCD has tweaked the main arena set up, shifting the main stage on to it’s western edge. After 7pm this puts the main stage crowd in the shade, and also makes the festival feel much bigger than its 25,000 capacity.
On the Heineken stage, Leon Bridges gets things moving with a little rhythm and blues. A muddy sound mix takes time to sort itself out, and let the clean edges of his dapper country-inflected soul shine through. It's a decent set from an in-the-pocket band, that almost switches into slow-set territory in places. It's not a particularly original sound he's selling, but it's well tailored and the early doors young crowd lap it up.
Over on the Whelans stage, Josef Salvat is cutting through his stylish electro funk set with no little swagger. He dances a fine line between spare pop with smart hooks and rockier anthems with big-calibre choruses. Throwing a Rihanna cover into the set is always going to get the crowd, and he has enough romantic drama in his voice to do it justice. But he has enough musical game in his own locker to power a set, even with older tracks such as Hustler. On Monday, he finished recording new album Nightswimmer. We await it with plenty of interest.
Hubie Davison might just be a chip off the old block. The young Irish producer puts in a cracking DJ set of funky house music on the RBMA stage that, in style if not quality, is a world way from his da Chris de Burgh's work. The only thing that detracts from it is the group of young girls wondering if I am Hozier's da (no, I'm not but yes you can take a picture).
Meanwhile back in the Heineken tent, French-Cuban twins Ibeyi are bringing their Yoruba-flavoured folk music to an impressively full tent. The harmonies are gorgeous and the piano and percussion playing is certainly on the money. At a summer festival, though, a straightforward two-person set-up feels too slight to hold the attention for a full set.
From there, Metronomy pick up the main stage baton and put in a solid set, getting fan favourite The Look out of the way early. It's always a good sign when a band is confident enough to frontload a festival set with their most popular tunes.
Over in the Heineken tent, things are really kicking off and Young Fathers put in an early shout for set of the festival. The strange mix in their textured hip hop is giving furious force by G Hastings, Alloysious Massaquoi and Kayus Bankole, with Steven Morrison driving the beats from behind. It's a brilliant, blistering set of music that whips up a euphoric atmosphere, lent a touch of class by the kind of dancing that would make Samuel T Herring sit up and take notice.
After that, Todd Terje takes over the packed tent for a fairly standard set. He goes through the motions, and while he has a cracking back catalogue to draw on, he flirts with brilliance, without ever making the set catch fire. A set closer of Inspector Norse feels like an obligation more than an ending.
Back on the main stage, Hozier predictably gets a huge crowd for a more local take on rhythm and blues. There's a level of professionalism here that's been missing from previous performances. In the first few tracks, there's no chat with the crowd, and a razor-sharp edge to a band playing like consummate professionals. The set also gets a lift with a few new tracks unveiled, and as darkness takes over, the stage lights up for a powerful Take Me to Church.
His success might have come at rocket speed but now he’s stepping up to the plate of being a genuine global phenomenon. The pressure on him must be immense – live, he’s now got a sound substantial enough to carry it.
Heading to Longitude today?
Saturday’s outlook is breezy with rain and cloud, so dress accordingly. Expect temperature to feel like 14 degrees. Wellies might be overkill, at least going by yesterday when the ground held up well. Our highlights today include Daithi (3pm), Toro Y Moi (7pm), Jungle (6.30pm), Girl Band (8.30pm) and Caribou (7.45pm).