So, my mini-run of summer festivals starts here. But why is it that two of them have the word ‘Sundae’ in the title? An accident of circumstances I guess. But maybe not. I can understand the first one – the Ben & Jerry’s sponsored ‘Sundae’ festival on Clapham Common on Saturday. After all, they are ice cream makers. And there really was as much ice cream as it was possible to eat, until you became sick and threw it all back up (I didn’t). The other similarly-titled festival is Summer Sundae in Leicester in a couple of weeks time. The name remains as a relic from the first festival, which was held on a Sunday back in 2001. Still, it was a rubbish name even then and now it’s obsolete too, since the festival has expended to a three-day affair. Someone should think up a better name, as it really is a great festival (this will be my fifth year) which deserves better. More on that in a fortnight or so.
Anyway, back to Saturday’s Sundae in SW4. Apart from the aforementioned free ice-cream, it was pretty much as you would expect a festival put on by ageing hippies Ben and Jerry to be. Fun for all the family – plenty to keep the kids occupied (animals, swings etc), lots of good environmental causes competing for your attention, and a laidback vibe. The music was alright too.
We caught snatches of Roland Shanks and Liam Frost between eating lunch, talking to friends and checking out the site. The first were generic post-punk, and the latter was generic singer-songwriter fayre. Neither essential, but probably OK to eat ice-cream to for half and hour.
The first (and really only) band I was really excited about was The Pipettes. I’ve said enough about them on this blog already, so no need to add any more. Suffice to say that they were great, and just about had the crowd pulling shapes and they strutted their stuff on stage.
Next up were Larrikin Love – the much touted new band from Twickenham. I was eager to see what all the fuss has been about. The answer? Not much really. OK, they make a generally agreeable racket, and have an energetic frontman in Edward Larrikin, but it was nothing unique and compelling enough to make me follow-up with either CD purchases or future gigs. In an attempt to make them sound more interesting (probably), some critics have dubbed them ‘gypsy punk’. Well, if that’s the case, then they’re the McFly to Gogol Bordello’s Clash.
Download: Larrikin Love – Downing Street Kindling
I’ve never really had the inclination to venture into Echo and the Bunnymen’s back catalogue, despite always quite liking the little I’ve heard. In fact I didn’t even realise the legendary indie band were a going concern, so an opportunity to see them was welcome. The older fans made a lot of noise at the intros I didn’t recognise, and Ian McCulloch cut his typical statuesque figure in his trademark dark glasses. He must have been feeling far from home in south London though, when he asked if there were any Scousers in the audience. Apart from the emergence of an double necked guitar, it was all fine. But I’m still not hugely tempted by the back catalogue.
Download: Echo and the Bunnymen – Killing Moon
Download: Echo and the Bunnymen – The Cutter
Headlining was Badly Drawn Boy, making a return after a two-year absence from the music scene. In that time he’s departed from his old label XL, signed for EMI and cut a new album. He apologised in advance for being under-rehearsed, and sure enough, three songs in, he had to restart a song. But no-one really minded. It’s not like he’s got a reputation as a virtuoso or anything. He started with new single Born in the UK, which is apparently his take on Springsteen’s Born in the USA, and namechecks Thatcher and the Falklands War among other things. It sounded quite good. He did another decent-sounding newie, but by the time he got around to Silent Sigh we had to leave to travel across town to see Gotan Project at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. More on that later…