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Summer Sundae Festival, De Montfort Hall, Leicester, August 14th-16th 2010, Part 3

August 26, 2010

Day three and we repeated our gargantuan all-you-can-eat breakfast experience. They were definitely getting to know us in the hotel restaurant, but it hadn’t made them hide away the sausages and eggs from the lads yet, so we can’t have made ourselves too unwelcome – when ‘kids eat free’ and your two teenagers eat like horses, you sometimes worry…

The weather looked brighter than on Saturday and we got up to the festival for noon, as I was keen to catch Andy White (left) in the Musician Stage tent. I last saw Andy about 22 years ago and we’ve both aged since then, but he still has a familiar spritely and cheery demeanour. He said hello to the recumbent Sunday audience and began the set with James Joyce’s Grave (including a nice dig at U2), Valley Of My Heart and green elegy Last Long Evening On The Planet. His style is that of the 60s-70s protest singer, but it’s not stereotypical and he long ago shrugged off the much hated ‘new Bob Dylan’ tag. He ended with a strong trio of Turn Up The Temperature On The Machine Of Love, Italian Girls On Mopeds and his fine anti-religious song about his Belfast background, Religious Persuasion – here’s an extract:
protestant or catholic?’
cried a voice from the crowd
‘not you again, st peter’
I was thinking aloud
should have packed my bags
headed off for the coast
had my time already come
to meet the heavenly host?
they switched on their halos
adjusted their harps
checked that the blades
on the pearly gates were sharp
I asked them what they meant
about religious bent
they said ‘that’s the test’
I said ‘that’s the test-ah-meant’
they were giving holy orders
I think you’ll find
I was up against persuasion
of the religious kind.

As the weather was now sunny and warm, we lounged around before going to the main outdoor stage to see Kentish troubadour Pete Molinari, wearing ‘the other’ spotty shirt from the one I saw him in at the Hop Farm Festival (thanks to Mr P for the photo, left). We were treated to a similar set, but it was all delivered with verve and style, despite a few sound problems initially. He started with A Train Bound For Glory, CC On My Mind and Streetcar Named Desire from the latest album, followed by relative oldie Love Lies Bleeding and a host of other toe-tappers – Easy Street, I Came Out Of The Wilderness, Absolutely Sweet Louise and Heartbreak Avenue. A Little Less Loneliness and All I Could Do Was Cry rounded off the all-too-brief set, but it had been an object lesson in catchy, straight-up country-folked rock ‘n’ roll. I’m looking forward to seeing his full set at the Jazz Café next month.

We wandered back inside for the next act, Montreal’s Besnard Lakes, whom I’d seen at the loathsomely trendy Cargo back in March, but enjoyed nonetheless. Once again, it was a similar set, played with great power and a swirling drone. Jace’s falsetto took some getting used to for those audience members who were unfamiliar with the band, and a couple of drunks seemed to take pleasure in random heckling. But mighty openers Like The Ocean, Like The Innocent and Devastation made most of the audience stare at them with bemused curiosity. Their sound was quite different to most of what had gone on at the festival, but the reception was generally positive – Astral’s not a fan, but liked hearing them in the festival environment. The rest of the set comprised familiar songs from the last two albums, but played with verve – Glass Printer, Albatross, And This Is What We Call Progress, Disaster and And You Lied To Me. They’re a fine live band, but it’s difficult to know in what direction they’ll head off to in order to give themselves a wider musical panorama. We shall see.

Back on the big outdoor stage, Low Anthem came on to some applause, but I wondered whether or not their sound was too delicate for such an environment. My worries grew as they gathered round a front-of-monitors mic to sing the opener accompanied only by a clarinet, but the audience was surprisingly amenable to something quieter and received them well. The next song, To The Ghosts Who Write History Books, was pretty too, but things warmed up with a fine rolling version of the Rev Gary Davis’s Sally Where Do You Get Your Liquor From? followed by a rocking rendition of Tom Waits’s Kerouac-inspired Home I’ll Never Be. They’re a very competent bunch, despite looking like extras from a photo shoot for an album by The Band, and swap instruments effortlessly. After Cage The Songbird, they resumed their places around the mic front of stage for I’ll Take Out Your Ashes, at which point the mic and PA packed up. They looked at each other and decided to play unamplified, which was very cool for those of us near the front, but must have been baffling for those at the back of the field. Still without amplification, they then sang a fine version of The Band’s Evangeline. As the PA crackled back to life, they took up their instruments again and roared through a great version of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott’s Cigarettes Whiskey And Wild Wild Women.

The next two songs, This God Damn House and Ticket Taker, were back to the softer stuff. It’s all done very well, but to my ears, the Fleet Foxes-style ethereal songs are attractive, but I’m not sure that the content is strong enough to hold up the structure. They finished with a good one, though – prison number The Old Triangle (The Banks Of The Royal Canal) by Brendan Behan, taken from his play The Quare Fellow:
Oh, a hungry feeling came o’er me stealing.
And the mice were squealing in my prison cell,
And that old triangle
Went jingle jangle,
Along the banks of the Royal Canal.
To begin the morning
,
The warder bawling,
Get out of bed and clean up your cell,
And that old triangle
Went jingle jangle,
Along the banks of the Royal Canal.

Our own hungry feeling came over us and three of us left the festival to have a fabulous veggie curry buffet at Shivalli while Humungous enjoyed the dubious pleasures of the DJ tent. Eventually, we gathered together again for a last goodbye to the festival and an enjoyable weekend.

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