Live reviews

Summer Sundae @ De Montfort Hall, Leicester, July 2002

Here comes the sun...?

We saw it summer 1998, all that makes a British music festival well, British. Skies that make a mockery of any 'hose pipe ban' the water authorities may choose to place. The return of health issues thought forgotten since the early 20th century, those like 'trench foot', and groups of people enjoying communal bathing in what can only be likened to a 'swamp'. But this year was different, or perhaps it was that this was more a 'long-weekend' than a festival proper. This years 'Summer Sundae', now into its second year and fast becoming 'an event' on the music calendar - certainly locally - was no doubt the best and an occasion that organiser's are going to have to use as a 'yardstick' for any future affair. It seems but a distant memory now, but this was still at a time when the ground seemed more like a baked parchment and skies were a 'hood of clear blue', or maybe that it's rained so damn long now I choose to posses this idealistic vision. But with a lineup that boasted truly some of the greatest performers Leicester has known since Gary Glitter went 'head-to-head' with the Bay City Rollers in the early Seventies, this was gonna be one of those not to be forgotten affairs.

I find it's always the same at any outdoor musical event, unless you go prepared, you end up missing the majority of the days events, lured by the treats available at the perimeter. The 'new-age' goodies, expensive ice-creams and T-shirts sporting the name tag 'habitwat', your girlfriend thinks would suit you down to the ground (like I'm going to pay good money to advertise the fact! They probably haven't got my size anyway).

But sure enough, with press sheet in hand detailing bands and stage times (that I managed to hang on to till the end, even though it was lent out to fellow reveler's more times than the communal splif might be passed around), I was adhering to the motto 'be prepared', or so I thought. Obviously I had decided who in particular it was I wanted to see of the weekends proceedings, and who from details given in their brief biographies, might also be worth lending an 'ear' to. So with 2 days of music ahead of me, I soaked up the sun, as well as that put in front of me.

Saturday; Arriving just too late to catch the first of the days bands, Little Fat Hoover and Nectar (two local bands), I positioned myself 'stage front', and absorbed the music of David Kitt, whilst going over old memories with an old friend I'd not seen for several years (trust common interests to have this effect - check out Volcano the Bear at www.brainwashed.com/vtb). In Mr Kitt you will find a Dublin based singer song writer, recently back from touring with Starsailor and performing at the Meltdown festival in London, who easily fitted in with the 'vibe' on offer, as the sun beat down and the music washed over me. The event was held over two stages, the main stage placed in the garden and another inside the hall itself. Sometimes you do wonder how the 'heck' some of the artists booked to perform at these events were able to get a booking? Or maybe that's just personal preference, but upon moving inside I had the misfortune to catch the truly dreadful Jinari. Described as a promising 8-peice, who had recently released their single "Can I Be Your Man", through 'Acid Jazz', did nothing for the movement and in my view added weight to the fact that the 'label' Acid Jazz should be left firmly in 1992! Outside then and to be honest The Be Good Tanyas left me cold in the afternoon sun. A female four piece hailing as far a field as Ireland and Vancouver, this was something I would probably have listening to 10 years ago, but have chosen to leave there. So with these failures behind me, I ventured inside again to see if anything would give me hope. I found it in the darkness of a set in progress by Capitol K, two musicians intent on producing 'psyched out lo-fi excursions', who reminded me of an early Spiritualised. Ok admittedly this is from an era I've just slagged off on two occasions, but these guy's had something in this wild durge they were producing that was infectious and drew me to the front of this sadly lacking auditorium, keeping me there until a feed-back ridden guitar was unplugged, and sounds echoed through what remained. Even at festivals, you have to take a break and when this festival is in the middle of the city you call home, on this occasion the draw was too much and left, armband on wrist, promising myself to return for what was to be my 'headline' of the day - The Stereo MC's. Well, so local lads Cornershop were ahead of them on the bill, but it would be late, and in my opinion this was the 'faux-pas' of the weekend and was I disappointed by my choice of 'headline'? Well read on. You may've thought that we'd left these urban warriors in 1992, but after a return to the UK airwaves with last years 'Deep Down and Dirty', The MC's showed that they still knew how to put on a show. From classic cuts, that had lost none of their appeal - 'Connected', 'Step It Up' and 'Ground Level', to the batch of new tunes, as their '2D' vocalist proceeded slide around his stage. The heckle from the audience was duly ignored, or not heard and why shouldn't they be 'up there', Status Quo are still making a living of the few chords they knocked out 34 years ago!

Sunday; To be honest today was a blur. Well when you've got the 'lounge king', David Byrne himself headlining, although for the earlier proceedings I may have been present in body, my mind was elsewhere and to be honest everything else just went out of the window.

Attired in slacks and jacket I can only describe as totally uncoordinated, right down to his 'crocodile' effect slip-ons, David took to the stage, acoustic guitar slug around his neck and proceeded into a set that comprised not just his own solo material, but also that from his days as front man of the awesome, Talking Heads. Music that in the failing light of a late July's evening was apt to a tee, as stage lights became more pronounced and David's dress sense remained suitably eccentric, he satisfied the increasing numbers before the stage with a presentation that was as flamboyant in its content, as David's life as been in the raw.

This whole weekend had been one of those 'had to be there' experiences and despite those minor stumbles I had encountered along the way, tonight's pinnacle had made these pale in significance.

Nick James

de montfort hall


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