Wishing every day was like Sundae

The proliferation of festivals has meant, unfortunately, that some have bitten the dust over the years, and I was particularly saddened when Leicester’s Summer Sundae succumbed to financial pressures.

It was a 6,000-capacity boutique festival held in the gardens of De Montfort Hall pretty much in the centre of the city.

And, for a couple of years, Gill and I found it to be amongst the most enjoyable festival experiences out there.

The headlining names were decent, the undercards were solid, the walking around was kept to a minimum and you could stick your car about 50 yards from the entrance and pay a couple of quid for on-street parking.

Even better, before entering the site there was always time to call in at Bombay Bites – possibly the finest Indian takeaway in the world.

in 2010 we decided to get two-day tickets rather than go for the full weekend and with Mumford & Sons headling on the Sunday that now seems a remarkably good decision in hindsight.

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Instead we managed to watch a tremendous variety of bands including a marvellous headling duo of Seasick Steve and Teenage Fanclub on the Friday and then an afternoon of Turin Brakes, Stornoway and The Go! Team on the main stage on the Saturday followed by a typically obtuse set from The Fall indoors in the hall itself.

While his band barrelled through some sturdy tunes, Mark E Smith seemed to spend most of the show stood behind the speaker stack or with his back to the audience. He probably sacked the band later that night.

But they, like the festival, were good while they lasted.

 

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Right there, Right then

I have had a good run at Creamfields, missing only two since it moved from Liverpool to leafy Daresbury.

Even its return to being purely dance as opposed to a combination of bands and dance, and one year straying into indie and dance – Kasabian headlining! – hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm.

In truth I see enough bands so its all-DJ line-up is actually a bonus.

But this year will probably have been my last.

Not because it was any less enjoyable. I had the usual good laugh with friends Matt, Paul and this year, Dean, but – and see the previous post for details – there comes a time when you recognise that you’re pushing the boundaries of good taste just by being there.

The age profile is nowhere near as young as Leeds but it’s still some way south of my middle-aged years.

At least I had the age thing in common with Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, who was the main reason I rocked up this year because despite him being on a million festival bills I’ve been at over the year (excuse the exaggeration)  I’ve never watched him.

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And his was a solid, crowd-pleasing set with great visuals that set us up nicely for the rest of the evening – some of which was spent in the excellent re-creation of Cream’s spiritual home at Nation.

Then it was more gigantic stage action with Tiesto who was a little underwhelming compared to previous visits. I thought his set lacked flow, almost as if he was testing out a few ideas. It had its moments and a few old school memories, plus the amazing production values that always go down well, but I’d rate the previous two occasions much higher.

However fortified by beer and thousands of others also having a top time it was only later that I could make a proper comparison.

Now what will I do next August Bank Holiday?

 

No, not that Bugsy Malone

Obviously there comes a time when you’re not as relevant as you think you are.

I realised some time ago that the majority of stuff that fills the chart these days wasn’t for me and that the overwhelming dominance of r&b and its derivatives had essentially pushed me to the margins of what would be considered pop culture.

And by far the biggest demonstration of this marginalised status came when taking my nephew, Noel, to his first festival this year at Leeds where a large chunk of one day was given over to Grime and rap

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Now I’m not so much out of touch that I don’t know what Grime is and I know – and like -some of its biggest stars. But we would be seeing people who hadn’t yet made that crossover into the mainstream.

So on that basis I found myself spending long periods in the Radio 1Xtra tent where the likes of Young T & Bugzey, Mostack, Dave and Bugzy Malone would be on stage.

I can honestly say that I didn’t know a single tune played all day. Not by the acts and not by the between acts DJ. Yet pretty much everyone else in there sang every word.

The performances varied in quality with the latter two certainly justifying their slots at the top of the bill and you can see that they could easily be the next superstars to follow Skepta and Stormzy into the wider consciousness.

J Hus was a disappointment on the same stage despite his fairly lofty status as someone taking Grime in a new direction with a set that seemed tired and uninspired.

When we did venture out into the sunshine we saw another of the genre’s biggest names – Giggs – on the enormous main stage and it was hugely entertaining to see both sides of the festival merging at this point.

As we approached the stage I said it looked like we were in a different festival. Lots of people who looked more like me, probably there for Liam Gallagher and Muse later on.

Then, as we sat and waited, there was this enormous influx of Giggs’ young fanbase who turned and left as soon as he was finished and headed back to where the Dance and 1Xtra stages could be found and the main stage dinosaurs were left to the old people.

Anyway, Noel loved the whole thing and is already counting down until next year’s line-up is announced and planning to camp once he turns 16.

If we’re at the same event, I doubt we’ll be watching the same things.

Clapham? I cheered as well…

An email conversation the other day got me looking for a picture I remembered I had of my radical youth.

It was of me in a rowing team for a charity competition proudly wearing a Nicaraguan Solidarity Campaign t-shirt. I also used to wear it to play cricket.

And then the e-conversation turned to other activism I used to get involved in. Standing as a political candidate, badgering shoppers on behalf of Greenpeace, attending Marxist get-togethers and generally fighting the powers that be.

So far, so unmusical.

But I also remembered this.

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The Artists Against Apartheid concert at Clapham Common combining my two favourite things at the time – marching for something and music.

I persuaded two friends, Simon and Alison, to go along too. Simon travelled down from Bath and Alison was already in London.

I had been a big fan of the AAA Sun City song released the previous year, absolutely loved Big Audio Dynamite and thought the whole thing looked a bit of a hoot to be honest.

I don’t recall much about the rally, but the march was slow and ridiculously hot with lots of entrepreneurial people along the way selling cans from bins packed with ice.

At Clapham Common an absolutely massive crowd had gathered, bigger than anything I’d ever seen before and it seemed to overwhelm the facilities on offer. Now I’d be looking round and thinking `I’ll give this an hour…’ but then it was marvellous to be involved in something that had drawn so many people for such a good cause even if from the middle of the throng there was no chance of going anywhere and even less chance of finding your friends again if you did.

From the printed line-up I can vaguely remember Sting , Boy George looking an absolute state in what was later revealed to be the middle of a dangerous period of drug addiction – a story that would become a tabloid frenzy that summer – and getting much nearer the front late on for some B.A.D action. I’m pretty sure Paul Weller also made an appearance in what I presume would be his Style Council days and Peter Gabriel performed an emotional version of Biko.

Two years later a Mandela Concert at Wembley was a much more corporate affair. Bigger, but worse, bands, more promotion and probably a bigger impact.

I watched it on the telly.