Bliss! The sun is out! - BBC pictures here for Sunday at Summer Sundae 2010. We start the day with breakfast at the Landsdowne bar which serves around 30+ people a much deserved sit-down breakfast in the midst of the festival.
With sunlight greeting the final day of Summer Sundae, it was definitely a day for enjoying the sun as much as the music. Nevertheless, we kicked off things with most of the set of David Gibb [and the Pony Club] putting in a charming local performance (he's from Derby!) and setting the folk-esque tone for the day. This was followed up with the Red Shoe Diaries, more local music as they;re from Nottingham. Getting the right balance of local music and those from further afield is hard: it could go too far, but its nice to hear good music from the local area. Very inspired by Camera Obscura and Belle and Sebastian but I'm hardly likely to complain about those influences am I? So I offer up my money for a very home produced CD and am very pleased about lending a hand to local talent.
As the sun continues to shine in fearsome defiance of the previous days rain, we revel in cider/beer and sitting about. The Guthlaxtones pump out some mighty and fearsome covers of classic soul/funk/pop from the 70s and 80s, the Summer Sundae Choir rehearse for the last time, and we enjoy the hilarious spectacle of a 14 year-old girl locating and berating her father.
Girl: "Dad! What do you think you're doing?!"Ah, the moral certainty of the 14 year old girl...
Dad (had been sitting reading his Observer newspaper)
Girl: "You were supposed to meet us at the Rising Tent!"
Dad (starts to get up, calmly and casually folding his paper)
Girl: "God! You can be such a child!"
We peer in through the back of the Musician Tent to watch the crowd whooping it up the YMCA from The Guthlaxtones (I really think they should have had the big stage)
Anyway, after that fun, we took in the pleasure of Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, sadly without Laura Marling (who he duets with on his recent album 'Been Listening') but its clear evidence of his style. Perfect for the summer sun.
Megafaun had come over from South Carolina (as we were reminded often), but they were GREAT fun. Bearded, folky, rocky, and generally just great entertainment. From the same stable as Bon Iver (which may give some idea of their style. They would randomly go acoustic in the middle of their songs and wander around and into the audience much to our general delight. They had a a great 'devil-may-care' attitude about many things, not least their records. "We have an album out... but we don't have it for sale here because we couldn't afford to get it through customs. You can just steal it from the internet. That's fine. Unless you;re our record company, in which case, but it. But mostly you can just steal it. You can always buy it from iTunes, which is kinda halfway between the two..." Genius!
After such excitement, we couldn't really be bothered with Junip (but then Jose Gonzales has singularly failed to capture my imagination on any of his previous turns at Summer Sundae). Instead we ducked indoors for a brief encounter with Errors (previously watched with the George at Summer Sundae). Fine, but we were getting in gear for one of our anticipated highlights - The Low Anthem.
From my first hearing of 'Charlie Darwin', it was hard not to love The Low Anthem. When their rockier hoe-down side came to light via the album it was both a shock and pleasure. So we were really looking forward to seeing them at Summer Sundae.
We planted ourselves near the stage: a good thing as at one point the mike stopped working (Ballboy suffered a similar fate at IndieTracks) but it didn't really deter The Low Anthem who just promptly moved into acoustic mode. Beautiful for those of us close to the stage who dropped to a hushed attentiveness to capture their talents. Gorgeous.
It was a stunning performance, even though at the end the band apologized for their "sloppy performance", but I knew what would get to me, and that was when they sang 'Charlie Darwin'. I'm sorry but it is SUCH a wonderful song: the harmonies are like angels. Not ashamed to say I had tears rolling down my cheeks at that.
I didn't think much would top that before the magnificent Mumford and Sons hit the finale, but I was pretty much proved wrong.
David Ford first hit my radar via a Word magazine compilation - it featured the heartbeaking 'A Long Time Ago' and from that I was sold. I've played the song MANY times. So I wasn't going to miss the chance of seeing him here. We got far more than we bargained for, thanks to a grumpy local church causing the postponement of his performance with the band. But this is David Ford. He doesn't let that hold him back despite the fact that one of his songs is called Cheer Up (You Miserable Fuck): it's actually a heartening song!
Anyway. Having been infuriated into walking away - "hopefully we'll be on in an hour" - I stumbled back from the toilets to find... he's just sitting there singing! He proceeds to sing his way through several songs, roping in the audience on tambourine etc for percussive effect and some gentle bongo playing from one of his band members. He nevertheless gives the impromptu set real vigour: we're an addicted crowd, many knowing his work.
We even had a sing-a-long to 'kumbaya' ("what do Christians sing?") and much amusement at his delight when the compere (from the Musician venue of Leicester who sponsor the tent) offered to make him a coffee.
He ended his acoustic set by coming down into the crowd and proceeded to sing 'Stephen' which he acknowledged as 'probably the saddest song ever' -- I couldn't help spotting a couple just by where he stopped: he with his arms around he, she near tears. Understandable as it is truly one of the most moving tracks you could hope to hear in such a setting (it was dedicated to Kate Carroll and her husband Stephen who was a Catholic policeman murdered by the Continuity IRA earlier in 2009. David has said that he was moved to write the song after hearing Stephens widow talking in a TV interview where she said "I hope these people are listening and if they just realised that we only get one chance at life and a piece of land is a piece of land.)
(I spoke to the couple who had been so moved by his performance of "Stephen" - I knew it must have made their festival, not just the acoustic set, but to end on that particular track. A lovely moment. They'd only seen him when he supported The Low Anthem on tour earlier this year, never having heard him before then. But they won't forget Summer Sundae in a hurry).
After that, David Ford took a well-deserved break before - he'd done an acoustic set for the best part of 40 mins and then he came back to do a shortened full-set with his band. What a bonus. Okay, so he had to reject requests for songs already done in the acoustic performance (we'd had a spikey 'State of the Union' for example) but I don't think anyone left that performance unimpressed. A real festival highlight.
(even worth missing Los Campesinos!)
Frightened Rabbit (25 mins)
Mumford and Sons are one of those bands whose time has been coming for a LONG while: another 6Music find (of course), they were inevitably many people's highlight. Indeed, they were no doubt a big reason why the Sunday tickets sold out first.
Arty photo of Mumford and Sons!