Summer Sundae Weekender Festival, De Montford Hall, Leicester 11-13 August 2006. The debut of the Cabaret Stage kicks the second day off at 10:30 and, it takes little time in filling up, as a dose of light-hearted entertainment is just what is needed. The lobbing Leicestershire quintet The Junipers perform an unspectacular, but searching set pitched betwixt The Beatles and The Byrds to an ornate backdrop inclusive of a scary ginger cat portrait with fiery devil eyes. The exuberant bhanga rockers, Kismet set the main stage alight and have the whole crowd bouncing frivolously to their Kula Shaker skirting sounds. The absence of Martha Wainwright due to personal reasons, was in someway, mitigated by the presence of the Regina Spektor and Martha merging Joan As A Policewoman. Joan is best known for her work with Rufus Wainwright, her endearing presence and life bearing indie/anti-folk with a touch of soul sound, has people stretching every sinew of the packed setting to get a glimpse of her. I have to pretend that I'm a young child who's lost his mum to get fully in. `The Ride' exemplifies Joan's worrisome and journeying song-writing ability.
Former British Sea Power keyboardist, Eamon Hamilton and his band Brakes (incorporating Tom and Alex White from Electric Soft Parade and Marc Beatty from Tenderfoot) blast through a plethora of sharp sub 90 second, 70s rock propelled sizzlers. Their whizzing nature is epitomised by `Pick Up The Phone' that whizzes by the ears of eager listeners and disappears again in the blink of an eye. The punk spiked new song `Porcupine or Pineapple' shows the band's new direction, as they utilise hounding guitars to propel Eamon's hoarse vocals, delivering mystical and eccentric lyrics.
The prize for the heaviest outfit of the Festival goes to. Isobel Campbell, only joking, although her slow and tear inducing rendition of `Love Hurts' is captivating, the winner has to be Forward Russia! A blazing set startles the chilled out crowd initially, prompting front man Tom Woodhead to bait the audience by exclaiming that there is a break in the Festival for church on Sunday morning. `Twelve' ignites the younger members toward the front to form a mini mosh-pit that picks up pace with the frantic vocal onslaught and enveloping guitar riffs, aiding this youthful release. Most of the songs are driven by the pelting and relentless drum beats of Katie Nicholls, who throws in a wandering vocal performance of the VV Kills ilk on `Sixteen'. A notable spectator is the new John Peel; Mr Steve Lamacq, who is so excited by this set that he majestically crowd surfs towards the end.
The Sheffield born, indie Larrikins of Little Man Tate set up some Saturday night high jinx. While their material, based on stuff that happens to them is nothing spectacular they make a show out of it. The rhythmically biting lash out at modern celebrities `Who Invented These Lists' is delivered with irreverent defiance. Front man Joe Windle goes arse over tit midway through proceedings, much to the delight of onlookers and his band-mates, facilitating the fun atmosphere. Little Man Tate are a true festival band and they effortlessly break down the audience/artist barrier, with their down to earth nature. The non-stop rain does not perturb headliners Gomez showing renewed enthusiasm and delighting with a set spanning their ten year career, with the mystical love-out `Girlshapedlovedrug' taking on new life in a live setting. A communal dance to set ender `Whipping Piccadilly' defies the dreary weather and sends campers off in a fulfilled and happy mood.
Much of the Sunday morning campsite chit-chat involves meticulous planning of how to get the most out of the promising and intriguing final day line up. Caffeine and energy drinks are consumed in abundance, as there is certainly a lot to try and take in. The surprise package of the event is The Former Poor Little Rich Ones singer, William Hut's set. The Bergan born songster's soul/folk voice surrounds you with warmth and his songs come straight from the heart. The calming pop song, `Take It Easy' stands out for its masterful nature. M.Craft sets the scene for some breezy Sunday afternoon contemplation, providing for a wistful half hour. Serenity is sprinkled around like snowdrops in the heart-warming ode `Silver And Fire' that is the title track from the London-based artist's second album.
The biggest disappointment of the weekend is the failure of the flighty The Guillemots to take off; people stand perplexed at the lack of cohesion and energy. The rejuvenated Buzzcocks blast out classics such as `Ever Fallen in Love with Someone (You Shouldn't've Fallen In Love With)? and `Orgasm Addict' to a rambunctious crowd. Flying fists mar a set that recaptures the potency of these punk legends.
It is fitting that the wispy, Glaswegian indie/folkers Belle and Sebastian close proceedings. They show that their summery song building ability has not left them, by utilising a number of offerings from their latest album, `The Life Pursuit' that has been hailed as a sweeping success and is a celebration of the B & S way. `Another Sunny Day' helps to cast off any lingering dullness created by the typical English weather.
Stuart Murdoch is the original gentleman, constantly taking time to draw the crowd into the set. The poetic `The Fox In The Snow' is a particular highlight of a colourful finale. It is a pleasing end to an engaging weekend of fun spirited, musical appreciation.