Live Music + Gig Reviews

Summer Sundae 2005 @ De Montfort Hall, Leicester

12-14 August 2005

A highlight of the festival season has been Leicester’s Summer Sundae, held every August at the city’s De Montfort Hall, and it’s becoming a favourite alternative to V, Glasto and the rest for many a music fan. This year, Lemon Jelly, Patti Smith, KT Tunstall and The Magic Numbers were amongst the acts featured, and we was there to report on the many highlights of the weekend…

The great thing about the Summer Sundae this year, like every year, is the line-up. Idlewild, Lemon Jelly and Patti Smith were the three headliners this year and all were top dollar – and very different outfits. After the morning acoustic club I headed inside. Not only because it was raining but because Clor were playing the indoor stage. With its drapes and balcony, the indoor stage is more like Wolverhampton Civic Hall or any of the Academies than an indoor arena.

Then back outside for Bap Kennedy and the excellent The Chalets. This is one of the things about the Summer Sundae. They mix up the big names with up and coming artists, on all stages. So you have no choice but to see talent that you would never see at the bigger festivals.

Although I wanted to watch Amusement Parks On Fire I opted for The Bees and The Magic Numbers (fresh from their two finger salute to Top Of The Pops). It was jingly-jangly summer pop from a band who are not fat. It was sublime, and, even better, the sun came out. Then some psychedelic fused rock pop everything from The Bees who were as breathtaking as they always are.

Apparently KT Tunstall was good but after taking a photo or two I left as all of Terry Wogan’s listeners had ram-raided their way through the barriers and barricaded themselves in the indoor arena for a talent (and she is a talent, don’t get me wrong) who admitted herself that “you ever get the impression that people think you are bigger than you actually are”. Good on you KT, I admired that statement immensely. Even she was clearly overwhelmed by the sheer number of people packed inside the arena.

Lemon Jelly were sensational on the Saturday night. Nice Weather For Ducks and the brazen glory of Rambling Man were magical in their timing and delivery.

After spending all day drinking I woke up Sunday feeling, well, like I had spent all day drinking. However, a warm shower and free tea and coffee soon had me on the road to the bar once again. The first band on Sunday morning were called The Dirty Backbeats, who were one of the highlights of the weekend. They don’t have an album out yet but they have just recorded some more demos at Rain studios and I cant wait to hear them. Their stage presence is majestic and big and their sound is a throwback to the Creedence Clearwater Revival. Hopefully these musicians will have big things ahead of them.

Later that evening, Yo La Tengo took to the main stage. These are one of my favourite bands so I obviously thought they were superb but one of the good things about the Summer Sundae is that you can walk straight up to the barrier for any band as the crowd is never thick enough to prevent this. You may imagine this dents some of the atmosphere but it doesn’t. Why?

Simply because the Summer Sundae is not trying to be something it isn’t. It’s a small festival with great bands playing to people who are genuinely interested in music. There are no major corporate logos flashed on every stall and every wall and corner. You’re not force-fed mobile phones, or made to feel guilty for not saving the Third World, or have to walk ten miles between stages, or put up with a dance tent full of space cadets. I’m going next year.

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