Gig Review: Summer Sundae Weekender, Day Two, 12th August 2006

Arriving on site early on Saturday we were disappointed to find that Oxfam’s offer of free tea and coffee to campers did not mean that we would be sitting in comfy leather armchairs at sturdy wooden tables sipping lattés and Earl Grey while reading The Guardian but rather it involved standing outside the tent in the chilly wind sipping a small plastic cup of Nescafé Fair Trade instant coffee with no milk because they had run out. A couple of hours and beers later and we repaired to the main stage to watch local band Don’s Mobile Barbers‘ amiable chugging indie rock. They were likened to Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev in the programme but with just two members, one on drums, the other guitar/vox, and the occasional cameo from a friend with a synth, they had no chance of matching the sonic ambition of those two bands. There was a definite American indie influence in their songs and their set made for a good, relaxed start to the day. Oh, if only the sun would shine.

Next we caught the last two songs of dutch band Gem in the Jim Beam Rising Tent. They were fairly conventional Britrock in the vein of Libertines and Razorlight but it was good to see such energetic performers stirring up the crowd early in the day. Then we headed for the first time into De Montfort Hall to see Howling Bells play their bluesy indie rock to an enthusiastic crowd. Our own enthusiasm was overcome by a requirement to eat about five songs in so we headed outside where we watched the first two songs of Tuung‘s tunefully oddball folk, which sounded quite intriguing and we would have stayed longer but we wanted to get a good place in the hall for Brakes. Brakes cannot fail in these circumstances. How can the casual observer not be won over by the likes of “All Night Disco Party”, “Ring A Ding Ding Ding” and the magnificent “Porcupine Or Pineapple?”? One of the joys of this performance was the reaction to the likes of “Hi, How Are You” or “Cheney”, which got played twice in a row, the second time a “Leicester Remix”, from the many watching who had never heard the band before. Brakes should really have played the Main Stage, which is where we headed after they’d finished to dig a little Young Knives. Only a couple of songs, mind, and they didn’t sound as good as they had the week before during their excellent D:Percussion set. So back inside it was for Isobel Campbell, only upstairs this time for comfy seats to rest our weary legs. With the legendary Eugene Kelly, of Vaselines, Captain America and Eugenious fame, deputising for Mark Lanegan it meant that much of the material would be culled from the Mercury nominatedBallad Of The Broken Seas long player, and it didn’t sound too bad with the title track and “Deus Ibi Est” particularly good though Kelly’s vocals certainly lacked the edge of Lanegan’s. Again we departed mid-set, but with good reason…

¡Forward, Russia! at Summer Sundae 2006I didn’t think that ¡Forward, Russia! could be as breathlessly exciting playing to a large festival crowd as they are in small, sweaty clubs, but they were. It was a stunning performance by the Leeds quartet that had me so engrossed that the 45 minutes seemed to pass in no time and at the end I barely had any idea what they had played (admittedly I still have problems matching the number to the tune) . They started it all with “Thirteen”, that I know, and they definitely played “Twelve”, “Nine” and an amazing “Sixteen” but it all seemed to by in a blur as if I’d been hypnotised by Tom Woodhead’s manic dancing. I totally missed Steve Lamacq’s crowd surfing, though JustHipper was on the ball on that one. At the end Tom leapt from the stage and dived into the audience, still singing, and emerged with blood pouring from his nose. The crowd was in raptures. It feels like ¡Forward, Russia! have arrived.

After the excitement of ¡F, R! we settled back to watch Nouvelle Vague do their cool french thang over familiar songs, many of which I grew up with in the 1980s. Opening with a sultry “The Killing Moon” they made their way through a languid “Blue Monday”, a hilarious “Too Drunk To Fuck”, a gloomy “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and a quite superb “A Forest” only to end with “Love Will Tear Us Apart, which, let’s face it, no one should ever attempt to cover, though everyone does.

Calexico at Summer Sundae 2006Staying at the Main Stage, a pared down Calexico were on fine form as usual. With “All Systems Red” and “Letter To Bowie Knife” – the best two tracks off the excellent Garden Ruin – dispensed with early on, Burns, Convertino and co. treated us to smooth as silk versions of favourites like “Stray” and “Sunken Waltz” as well as “Alone Again Or”, dedicated to Arthur Lee and John Peel, and the superb latino groove of “Güero Canelo”. It wasn’t the best performance I’ve seen from them – I prefer them with a bigger band and a bit more mariachi – but it was still highly entertaining.

The rest of the evening was spent in the hall on another ’80s nostalgia trip (for me, at least). Thanks to various relatives of mine from an older generation I was very familiar with work by The Proclaimers and Ian Dury And The Blockheads while growing up. Though I had little affinity for the former, I learnt most of the swear words I know from the latter’s New Boots And Panties long player. It was one in/one out for The Proclaimers but we managed to get seats upstairs after a short wait. It was an incredible atmosphere as most of the oldies at the festival (and there were many, me included) had left their kids behind and packed into the heaving venue. We only saw the last 20 minutes but I recognised “Sunshine On Leith” and of course “500 Miles (I’m Gonna Be)” which had about 2000 people singing along and made you wonder why the hell they weren’t playing the Main Stage.

The crowd thinned out a little for The Blockheads who were replacing X-Press 2 on the bill after they had pulled out through illness. The late Ian Dury was replaced on vocals by comedian, DJ, TV guy Phill Jupitus and he did a pretty good job. It was a good set which began with “Wake Up And Make Love To Me” and took in Dury classics like “Clevor Trever”, “Billericay Dickie”, “What A Waste”, “Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll” and, of course, “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”. Unfortunately the band took it upon themselves to play a couple of recently penned numbers which saw Jupitus relegated to showing off his dubious percussion skills as Derek The Draw took over the vocals and the drummer got to play some solos. One drum solo in a gig is one too many; two is unforgivable. Norman Watt-Roy’s incredible bass playing must get a mention, however. There, I mentioned it. Anyway, an entertaining evening was rounded off with an excellent “Reasons To Be Cheerful Pt. 3” and we were further delighted to find that we had avoided much of the torrential rain that fell during Gomez’s set on the Main Stage.

5 Responses to “Gig Review: Summer Sundae Weekender, Day Two, 12th August 2006”

  • Justhipper Says:

    Nescafe? I think Oxfam could get us for libel on that one as they were serving Fair Trade instant and Nescafe are about as unethical as a company comes what with the whole powdered baby formula/milk thing….

    I thought Forward Russia were superb. The blood coming from Tom’s face was a result of jumping off the stage and misjudging the distance to the ground. He fell over, if you recall, and landed on his face. If you recall, he was bleeding when he got up, before he ever made it into the crowd. And I must give big props to Mr. Lamacq for his crowdsurfing and triumphant punching the air when pulled out by security, the being the same Steve Lamacq who earlier had been seen with Gideon Coe in the bar, directing Tom FR towards someplace he could brush his teeth and drinking cider. Only silly girls drink cider. Yuck.

  • Lee Says:

    Thanks for the review of our gig. I was playing guitar with The Blockheads. I agree with you about the 2 drum solos (in fact I would rather not have had one!) but we didn’t get a chance to rehearse Rhythm Stick or Spread it (for it was they) without them and that is how the arrangements are in our normal set!

    It was also one in/one out for our set but that is just a little point. If anyone would like to hear some of the gig (drum solo as well!) please hit on this myspace page where part of it is streaming week by week..

    Thanks again


  • samantha Says:

    Summer Sundae weekender is advertised as “family freindly” festival, however I found this was not so, the only place for washing was right next to the stinking port-a-loos, and in effect were the same sinks taht you washed your dishes at, parking was nearly impossible to find and when it was it cost £20, the distance that I had to carry our tent, bedding, clothes was very far and very exhausting, the showers were all the way up the opposite end of the campsite and stank, food and drink was expensive, the only toy stall was expensive. I think if I had been on my own after a few drinks it would have been great and none of the above would have mattered, but I was on my own with my two small kids, and it was just really hard, stressful, expensive and tireing. I just wanted to warn any other single parents who might believe that the festival is family friendly….in my opinion it is not!

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