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

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

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

  • "One of Britain's Premier Music Events"

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

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

Summer Sundae 2003 Reviews


In its third year Summer Sundae maintained its course and stated ambition to become an annual date on the UK festival calendar, by supplying appealing blends of good quality music in the informal and relaxed setting of the De Montfort Hall and grounds. This year there were extra stages that proved popular and the lawns of an adjacent college became a campsite for the weekend enabling people to travel from further afield.

An extra evening of entertainment was added with acts appearing on the Hall Stage Friday night - we arrived in time to see the last few minutes of Fingathings set and wished we'd arrived sooner - energetic work on the decks accompanied by some funky double bass playing was going down a storm with the small but enthusiastic audience.

Visiting the bar in search of refreshments we noticed the doors which led out out into the arena were open so we took a meander around the natural amphitheatre and bought something to eat from a food stall and just enjoyed being outside in the sultry evening air. It was tempting to stay outside for the rest of the evening but the first notes of what sounded like a real band hitting the stage called us back inside to investigate. We hadn't expected to see any bands on Friday thinking it was a "club" night but RSL with eleven members are most definitely a band and a highly enjoyable band at that. I was reminded a little of St Germaine as their instrumental multi-influenced and danceable tunes continued the party vibe that Fingathing had started.

Mr Scruff was the last act and, though he is a well known DJ now, it was the first time I'd seen him perform, as expected a bewildering variety of music was employed as he set about getting the sparsely populated hall dancing until the close at 1.30.As predicted by all, Saturday dawned sunny and warm and by the time Praha 7 from Leicester opened the proceedings on the Main Stage, the powerful sunshine was forcing people to seek shade. Warnings to take care were issued from the stage with reports from Cropredy Festival of hundreds of people being treated for sunburn on the Friday! Praha 7's upbeat and lively sound struck a suitable chord with the recumbent crowd and their too-brief set drew applause.

Next up, one of the highlights of the weekend for me - Rodrigo y Gabriela - two acoustic guitar players from Mexico City who proved there are sounds an ordinary acoustic guitar can make that few would think possible - mixed in with traditional flamenco sounds familiar rock guitar riffs would suddenly appear - 'Smoke on the Water' was easy to spot but I'm not sure if my ears were deceiving me when I detected Metallica chordage in there as well! ... I'll probably never know. The afternoon continued hot and chilled (urg), BBC 6 Bob Harris introduced Laura Cantrell who was sweet and soft country style and then things went more melancholic-rock as Longview took their turn to entertain the afternoon crowds but sulked perhaps a bit too long for my taste so it was off to pastures new in search of something with a faster pulse.

I found it in the cool darkness of the indoor stage in the form of Pink Grease from Sheffield. This band of high energy popsters delivered a much needed tonic to my afternoon sloathing, great fun to watch I'll certainly look out for them appearing live again - a friend commented after one of the numbers they're "like a camp Terrorvision" and I thought "I'll use that" so there it is.

After a quick trip home for a quick cold shower and bite to eat (ahh the pleasures of a festy on your doorstep) it was time for those good ol' boys from Brixton - Alabama 3 - to perform their ever-entertaining and perfect blend of country-acid-house-rock on the Outdoor Stage - the arena, now busier than before was upstanding at last and groovin' along in the Alabama3 way of the slow marching beat. Back to church (with a bit of slurring).

The Gotan Project were hard to see, at first - in an unusual move, they played behind a screen onto which swirling and endlessly repeating images were projected, the band only becoming visible through the screen as more of them became lit up by lights, unusual but quite compelling with the dark and moody Flamenco style of music they play and the end of each song was greeted with warm applause. Eventually the screen came down to reveal the band in their fineness, but the music stayed dark and a moody to the end - an interesting finale to the first day.

It was a shock to see grey skies on Sunday morning and claims that rain might occur looked like they might hold water, but it was still very warm and it certainly didn't put people off - they came in droves today proving the big names who were joining together later in the evening to raise awareness for the Campaign for a Landmine Free World had a lot of pulling power.

Other acts were to get a turn before that though, The Vessels played a tight set of acoustic rock on the mainstage, a visit to the Musician Stage (in association with local pub-venue - The Musician), which was conveniently also the beer tent proved there were acts well worth seeing on the smaller stage - local lad Pete Morton attracted a captive audience when the only short shower of the day started but if the applause was anything to go by his well crafted protest songs were keeping his prisoners quite content.

Aqualung were an unknown to me (as per!) and they were quiet and chilled, delicate and sombre songs delivered with understatement, nothing too taxing - verdict postponed. Richard Hawley I was more interested by but unfortunately I missed most of his set - would like to see him again based on what I did hear though.

I was impressed again steel guitar playing Ian Siegal on the Musician stage and then it was time to get a spot for the finale - Emmy Lou Harris with Joan Baez, Chrissie Hynde, Billy Bragg and Steve Earle taking it turns to sing and play from the heart, all impassioned with the cause they were supporting, Billy Bragg looked delighted to be there in such company.

The show was halted for a while to give the mic to a campaigning vietnam veteran - wish I could remember his name because he spoke so eloquently about just why the land mine really IS a Weapon of Mass Destruction and should cease to be used in any theatre of war. The music resumed as before, solos and duets, adaptations of old standards and sooner than expected it was the encore and the end had come for another great weekend of entertainment - hats off to the organisers for putting it together.

Phil Bull