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Summer Sundae 2006 - Sunday

Is it really Sunday already? That would be my only complaint about this festival – it ends toodamn quickly! Nothing much that can be done about that of course, but the whole weekend is just such a blast that it seems to be all over by the time you’ve blinked a couple of times.

It’s been a wonderful event so far, and I really am running out of superlatives to throw at it, so let’s just get on with the job(?) in hand shall we, and review the festival finale?

INDOOR STAGE

First band on today were Firebrand – an English and far less professional version of Hole. No end of mistakes, possibly due to nerves, were quite blatantly made, and bassist Sarah comes across more as a Primary School teacher than a rock star. I guess they’re nice people but they really ought to rehearse a bit next time…

The New Cassettes, on the other hand, were an impressive, thumping, passionate indie pop outfit that ought to send both the media and general public into something of a frenzy. Excellent contagious melodies were confidently belted out by a band that look set for superstardom in the immediate music world infrastructure.

Misterlee is, of course, an Atomicduster favourite, and he/they didn’t disappoint. Haunting, sometimes creepy, always innovative and occasionally just plain silly, I think Misterlee went right over some festivalgoers’ heads. It’s dark and moody, and more leftfield than anything else over the whole 3 day event. We are lucky to have an act like this in Leicester. Superb.

M. Craft was next, with his Adem style romanticism, which seemed a bit odd, to be honest, considering Adem himself was to be performing just two and a half hours later. Still, they were well constructed songs, if a little plodding at times.

Captain were welcome for several reasons, not least because they provided much needed shelter from some persistently soggy weather, but also because they were capable of mesmerising you and rocking your socks off in equal measure. It was a bit like watching a combination of Midway Still and Deacon Blue, if you can possibly imagine that, and there was some mighty fine banter thrown in along the way. The anecdote about the band’s drummer copping off with a vicar’s daughter and then nearly being struck by lightning was interpreted by the band as “God’s retribution” and raised a chuckle or two!

Adem was a whole lot more upbeat than I was expecting, and he had an acoustic swagger that sounded alarmingly like Coldplay at times, but it was worth staying in for all the same.

The Boy Least Likely To performed admirably, unleashing their brand of bouncy acoustic pop and wowing the audience with a splendiferous cover of George Michael’s “Faith”. Something tells me they’re going to regret that though, if they ever release it. My advice – excellent though it was, DON’T!

The Buzzcocks
were astonishingly still as edgy and powerful as they were in their heyday. In fact, you begin to wonder if THIS is their heyday. Pete Shelley’s vocal sounds just the same – possibly even better – than it did back in ’77 and their new songs have the same urgency and instantaneous appeal as the old ones. Talking of the old ones, it was nice to hear some of the less obvious ones being aired, like “Oh Shit” and watching Steve Diggle do battle with his instrument is as entertaining as ever. Great band. Great performance.

Coldcut completed proceedings in the Indoor tent with an energetic routine that spanned the last 17 years but, alas, this is one act I didn’t really get to see much of, such was the massive appeal of festival headliners Belle & Sebastian. But we’ll get to that later.

MUSICIAN STAGE

Power riffs aplenty came from The Displacements at half past twelve, rendering them a tad lie Stereophonics at first but eventually sounding about as far away from that as you can get, before the stupendously brilliant Ego-Armalade emerged with their tremendous punchy melodic pop songs. This is the next big Leicester band, I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever about that. Watch out for them. The fact that the band’s vocalist was kicked out of the event (albeit for a very innocuous comment) is perhaps a sign of future notoriety which, of course, can only be a good thing…

Excuse my manly urges for a moment, for I appear to have written purely “Fit as fuck” in my notes for Hayley Hutchinson but, as I remember, she also had a gorgeous voice which complemented her beautiful folk-country tunes just perfectly. I’m getting aroused just thinking about it…I think perhaps I’ll move on…

After Mike West and Truckstop Honeymoon gave us some “good ole country music”, us Weekenders were given something of a treat by an amazing female vocal trio with harmonies to die for. It was like the Puppini Sisters going country and really was terrific.

Humble apologies to Gary Potter, as neither I nor my colleague managed to catch his set for one reason or another, but Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes – one word – WOW. As Pedro Cortina put it: “This is everything I know I hate…and I LOVE it!”. It was like a far more entertaining version of The Blues Brothers with virtuoso harmonica recitals and high energy audience participation. This was undoubtedly one of the surprise packages of the weekend and without question one of the highlights. You MUST see this band.

RISING STAGE

William Hut
was how I imagine Travis would sound if they were a purely acoustic band, but that’s not as bad as it sounds, for Hut has a voice more akin to Antony Hegarty than Healy and somehow that gives his music the twist it needs.

I was a little disappointed with Token Of My Affection, who seemed rather tired and generic of everything that’s gone before, so I was relieved when Sophie Solomon took to the stage with her remarkably manic violin playing that gave way at other times to Radiohead style morosity. I’ve overused the words “moody and atmospheric” FAR too much already, but I’m going to have to do it again here!

Eh? My notes here for Absentee say “like an indie Chris Rea with a huge erection” – what the hell does THAT mean? Oh, hang on, it says a “horn section”. Sheesh, I really ought to get handwriting lessons…

Jamie T, unsurprisingly, drew a HUGE crowd to the Jimbeam stage, due in no small part to his recent top 30 hit “Sheila” and it can’t be denied that his vivacious enthusiasm was of great appeal. Nice to see someone making such an effort to win the crowd over, which he duly did.

Larrikin Love hold great appeal too, but they have to be careful they don’t fall TOO far into the ska-punk trap that has swallowed previously decent bands up whole within the space of a few months. Fantastic new single though.

MAIN STAGE

Redcarsgofaster
got the ball rolling like a cross between The Cure and Carter USM, but ultimately sounded more ferocious than that. Pretty good show, but their vocalist seriously needs to stop telling the audience to “Stand up”. That really rubs people up the wrong way…

The Long Blondes were fun enough and came across like a mid nineties girl Britpop band who’ve brought in the rhythm section from Bow Wow Wow. Hmm that’s be The Ants then wouldn’t it?

Morning Runner were the first “big” band of the day and they were very strong and powerful live. There weren’t too many diversions from their recorded output – in fact they sound almost identical, and sometimes I LIKE that. They coped extremely well with the dwindling crowds due to a sudden downpour and their “big” sound came across effectively. The only thing I noticed was that they didn’t have a great deal of stage presence and their music tends to get a bit samey after a while. You probably already knew that though…

If I’m totally honest, I was keeping my fingers crossed for a heatwave when Jose Gonzalez came on, as I didn’t think his music would work without bright sunshine and everybody lying back dreamily soaking up the rays. How wrong could I have been? Although we were riddled with that irritating rain that stops and starts intermittently, the Argentinian proceeded to send shivers down my spine on more than one occasion with his gorgeously intricate melodies, and in particular on that line about if the “rain stops play” in “Heartbeats”. Spot on.

It’s not often I say this, but I was absolutely blown away by Guillemots. Sure, they had a bit of a false start with a minor technical hitch (actually I wouldn’t even have noticed if they hadn’t told us!) but they really were sublime. The band soldiered on regardless with an electrifying set full of the recent familiar singles, epic tracks from “Through The Windowpane” and some stunning new material. If you’re looking fo stage presence too, Guillemots have it in bucketloads. Impassioned, uplifting and exciting, these guys are the best thing about this year’s festival. I even made a point of hunting down vocalist Fyfe Dangerfield to shake his hand and tell him so!

Stephen Fretwell was pretty much what you’d expect, but following Guillemots is a tall order for anyone, and while he weaves his own musical tapestry admirably, it doesn’t quite have the same impact. Still, tender ballads and Squeeze like compositions made for a “nice” set rather than anything spectacular.

That DID set the festival up nicely for its finale though, and if anyone who was there was NOT a fan of Belle & Sebastian before their excellent headline performance, their heads must surely have been spinning in appreciation by the time the curtain eventually came down. I must confess I had no idea they would be so entertaining live, despite my fondness for the band, but they were a delight to watch. Professional, exuberant and highly amusing, the guys steamrollered through highlights from “The Life Pursuit”, “If You’re Feeling Sinister” and may other terrific tunes from their other albums. A particularly satisfying moment came when vocalist Stuart Murdoch whisked a girl from the audience – Springsteen style – from the audience to dance with him, and then mentioned to the crowd afterwards that he had to apologise for sticking “twelve inches of tongue down her throat”. Yes, WE thought he was going to say something else too…
Finishing with “The Fox In The Snow”, I think the vast majority of the folk who attended the festival would agree that, despite initial reservations, Belle & Sebastian were the right act to be closing the event. Full credit to them for making me like them even more!

You what? Go home? I don’t WANT to go home!

BAND OF THE DAY – GUILLEMOTS




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