17-18-19 August 2012 / De Montfort Hall & Gardens, Leicester

  • "One of Britain's Premier Music Events"

  • "The finest weekend out that Leicester has to offer... Not to be missed"
    The Mirror

  • "You can genuinely say that there is something for everybody"
    The Guardian

  • "Anyone half awake knows that Summer Sundae is hitting the musical spot better than ever"

  • "The Grandson of Glastonbury"
    Steve Lamacq, BBC 6Music

Summer Sundae 2002 Reviews


Following on from the success of last years Summer Sundae in Leicester this years event was increased to two days and what a good weekend of quality acts it was. Organised by the De Montfort Hall, 28 acts played on two stages, one inside the hall and the other a large outdoor stage in the hall gardens.

Despite poor weather in the week before, the rain mercifully held off on Saturday and so on arrival it was straight to the outdoor stage to see the last half of I am Kloots set which made me wish we’d arrived a little sooner, their strong guitar sound and wistful muse-like vocals immediately putting us in the mood for more. We took a look inside the hall where Bobby Conn was putting on an alarmingly glamrock style performance that got the few heads that had ventured in to see him nodding and then it was straight back outside again where Calexico were attempting to grab the attention of a chilled out crowd. Their mixture of mexican/country songs conjuring up images of arid landscapes and fists full of dollars succeeded in the end and they left the stage to warm applause.

Stereo MC's

The acts on each stage were neatly timed to overlap so it was possible to flit between the two and catch most of each set, if you had the energy. As evening approached the Afro Celts DJ set took to the indoor stage and set the mood for a boogy before more hip swaying to the Stereo MCs on the outdoor stage. The passage of time seems to have had little effect on the freshness of the MCs old tunes and the energy with which they were performed infected the crowd who were brought to their feet at last, excellent.


Somehow despite having been around for a few years, Kosheen had escaped my attention till this weekend and I was clueless as to who they were, but for many others this was obviously not the case as the hall filled with the first decent sized crowd of the day, I was glad I joined them because I soon recognised their sound, the penny dropped in a "oh THAT'S who they are!" way. Is that Bristol drum and bass then? ...dunno but it sounded good.

Cornershop qualify as a local band in Leicester and they played the final slot of the day to an appreciative audience, always under-stated in the way they perform whenever I’ve seen them before and this time was no different, but their sound is tight and the performance is right in keeping with the material, a chilled end to day one.

On Sunday the festival gods looked down on Leicester and said “ye shall have sunshine today (me ducks)” and lo, the people came in larger numbers than they had for Saturday ....due also I’m sure to the headliner being, the one and only, David Byrne.

The good weather made it a wrench to leave the gardens for the gloomily lit hall and it most people felt the same way - loafing about on the perfectly sloping hill in front of the outdoor stage was definitely where it was at today, the festival was living up to its name. However I was attracted away from my sun-worshiping by a friends intriguing description of The Bays who were on the indoor stage. Any band who refuse to record because they don’t think it would convey what they do live have gotta be worth checking out and they didn’t disappoint, they look like a band (with a DJ) but they play a non-stop set of energetic dance music moving through various styles hardly pausing for breath. The final minutes of their set played in overdrive, left me gasping for air and then shouting for more, definitely someone to look out for ….live of course.

Outdoors once again, the pace slowed immediately and humour took over in the form of The Handsome Family and their quirky country ballads with-a-twist, I especially enjoyed the one about dead pets and my appetite wetted I decided it was time for a curry (vegetable). BBC6 was transmitting some of the event live and "whispering" Bob Harris came onto the outdoor stage to give a very professional expectation-building intro for Beth Orton - I was sceptical. I have to say she was a darn site better than when I’d last seen her a few years ago, drowning in the vastness of the mainstage at Glastonbury. This time she had a band with her and just back from a US tour they played a well rehearsed set, though I still remain not completely won over by her singing style, her songs are good quality for sure.


After seeing Lamb live for the first time just the week before at Glastonbury (must stop mentioning glasto) I was looking forward to seeing them again in Leicester, more than anyone else in fact and I wasn't disappointed - they bowled me over once again, what a good band, they must be because I missed the start of David Byrnes set watching the encore which wasn’t the plan at all!

For reasons I don't understand (now) I hadn’t expected much from DB despite being a fan of the Talking Heads years ago, but boy was I ever wrong this time, he blew me away. White haired Byrne can still sing his head off as well as he ever could (same as it ever was?) and I loved every minute of his show. The band comprising of a drummer, percussionist, 6 piece string section and a bass player were magnificent and played through a set comprising classic Heads tracks like Once in Lifetime and This must be the Place and more recent material like Lazy with enthralling precision and vitality. After an encore consisting of a mexican ballad and a cover of I Wanna Dance With Somebody we thought it was all over, but Byrne returned to the stage a second time and finished off his appearance in Leicester in great style with Road to Nowhere, much to everyones delight, sheer class.

David Byrne

Anyone who goes to Glastonbury (oops) knows about the comedown when its all over for another year, Summer Sundae was just what the doctor ordered, I asked Mark Merrifield of De Montfort Hall how it had gone for them...:

We're really pleased, from our point of view the event looked, sounded and felt fantastic - we have to say the crowd made the festival, everyone was so laid back and friendly, just what we wanted - the feedback from the crowd and artists so far has been phenomenal – we’ve been flooded with emails saying what a great time people had.

Will there be another one next year?

Oh yes, and we hope to see you guys there again.

We will be!

Phil Bull