what a great festival!
Page updated: 6th August 2015
New item: performance by Swamp Delta
Cameras: Kevin Gaughan and RhinoFeroSs photography; Pens: Trevor Locke
Not all photos have been sent in yet; several pictures shown below will be replaced (and new ones added) when we get the full set in from our photographers. The text for this page is now more or less complete.
In the warm midday sunshine of Saturday 25th July, fans waited outside the entrance to De Montfort Hall. A band waked into the garden to play (King Brasstards I think.) I noticed that one of them was Gaz Birtles – on the saxophone.
The festival was well organised and lot of people from the music industry and local music scene were there. The two day event started with really good weather, on the Saturday, but the great British summer meant that the Sunday was largely wet and overcast. Even so, the enthusiasm of the crowd was not dampened and people continued to enjoy the music. It is easy to draw comparisons with the festivals that were once held in the same area but, as one well-known member of Leicester music scene said to me: “It’s not trying to be Summer Sundae.” He was right; Simon Says is not trying to take over where Summer Sundae left off. It is a festival that has created its own approach, an event which does it own thing.
The first act that I saw was Rhett Barrow, performing on the Band Stand. I was reminded of Rhett’s appearance at Summer Sundae a couple of years ago. Rhett is one of the most well-known and much respected singers in this city.
The BBC introduced two local artists at this year’s festival.
Opening the Outdoor stage was Henry Jones; placed by BBC Introducing. The young singer from Belton had a good voice and an attractive set of songs. This was his first time on a stage of this size, he told the audience. As I watched his performance, I was remembered the first time I saw Jake Bugg perform in this field.
The Indoor stage, the main hall of the DMH, was opened by Dig Lazarus – the band that won the Original Bands Showcase earlier this year.
Dig Lazarus has gone from the stage at The Musician to the main stage at the DMH is less than a year; not the first Leicester band to have done this but a noteworthy achievement nonetheless.
Temple of Lies played on the Indoor Stage on Saturday. I remembered seeing this band at The Firebug in 2014 when they supported Resin and Martyr de Mona. Flashback:
A large crowd gathered for the appearance by Leicester band Casino Empire. Now one of the most widely known young bands in the area, lead singer Tommy Cobley has become something of a nascent legend. Casino Empire has enjoyed a number of festival appearances, including that at this year’s Glastonbudget Festival. (see Music in Leicester May 2015]
Swamp Delta played today on the Outdoor Stage; Adrian Manning was there to see them. He said:
Early Saturday evening brought Leicester rock royalty to the Outdoor Stage in the form of ex-Crazyhead and Gaye Bykers on Acid members unleashing the garage punk rock of the mighty Swamp Delta.
Drawing one of the biggest crowds of the day, the band played a storming set of classic and new numbers. Byker’s tracks ‘Shoulders‘ and the timeless ‘Everything’s Groovy‘ and Crazyhead tunes ‘Have Love Will Travel‘, ‘Baby Turpentine‘ and the legendary ‘What Gives You The Idea That You’re So Amazing Baby?‘ blend seamlessly with new tracks ‘Sick Liver Blues‘ and the awesome psychedelic groove of ‘Touch The Sun‘ amongst others.
Alex Peach throws some great rock shapes while Screaming Delta Anderson remains a fantastic frontman.
Tight rhythm backing from Rob Morris and Robber Byker alongside crunching riffs by Anthony ‘Blink’ Smith add to the meaty sound while Saxy Sue adds some great Stoogian ‘Funhouse’ era effects to certain tracks.
Having sold out local gigs over the last twelve months, headlined in London recently and with an album due soon, Swamp Delta are honouring the past whiles forging a new future. It was great to see so many of the Delta faithful in attendance and new listeners were treated to a storming introduction including many who are too young to have appreciated the Crazyhead, Bykers link – hopefully now they will discover more for themselves! Brilliant!
Great Imitation performed in the Marquee Stage. Front man James Scott-Howes put on a sizzling performance of his high-octane rap songs. Another stunning performance by James; even if you are not a big fan of hip-hop, you will love his intense showmanship and command of the audience and his wicked sense of humour.
We have written about Great Imitation many times. We reported on the gig they did at The Soundhouse in January 2015 [Music in Leicester]
Today’s performance proved to be a crowd-puller. Another stunning appearance from one of the county’s great bands and a unique stage act, without a doubt.
On the Band Stage stage, we heard from a succession of well known artists: Mikey Kerslake, Siobhan Mazzei, Slow Motion, The Ruby Doos and many more; the stage reached a finale with Leicester-born singer Jinnwoo.
Seeing a performance by singer and songwriter Siobhan Mazzei is always a great pleasure and a rewarding experience. We have reviewed her many times in this magazine; here is one flashback:
The four stages offered a wide variety of musical styles; throughout the programme there was something for just about everyone to like, from the sweet and sophisticated through the rip-roaring and dance-provoking. Most genres had a presence on the programme. OK we might not have had post-hardcore screamo or really heavy death metal but then this is an all ages, family-facing festival. The only thing I would say is that Leicester’s vibrant hip-hop scene was not well represented.
Jinnwoo performed on the bandstand stage. He has received comments in The Independent, The Guardian and Fly magazine, among others. Jinnwoo’s characterful voice reminded me of the solo work of Leicester singer Joe Morrell. It has a timbre all of its own. People must have heard of him because the grass in front of the stage was filled with a larger than usual number of people. His vocals offered rich subtleness of tone and he provided his songs with a delicacy and resonance that held everyone spellbound. Renaud told us: Jinnwoo plays his songs as thought he was naked on stage – fragile and vulnerable. It is a dialogue from soul to soul, as he lays down his soul to touch ours. He raises his face only when talking reservedly to the audience, almost apologising to be here, which has the effect of increasing his charm. The man himself has impressive simplicity. If you come to meet him, there is strong chance that he tries to find out who you are, talking more about you than himself. He has, for sure, an exceptional voice and personality, and I am looking forward to the release of his first album due to November 2015.
On the indoor stage there were stunning performances; they were all good but the sets by Charlotte Carpenter, Clubs and today’s headliners British Sea Power were stand-out moments for me and for many I spoke to.
Fans of Charlotte Carpenter might want to read Trevor Cobbe’s review of her appearance at The Cookie in January 2014 [Music in Leicester] Charlotte’s set today pulled in a fair-sized crowd to the Indoor Stage and rewarded them with a cool, pleasing and tranquil sounds and the beauty of her fine vocals.
Many of Leicester’s most acclaimed bands were here today. Ash Mammal packed out the Marquee stage for a sensational set of their songs. Compere Sean Tizzard introduced them as “the band most likely to make it.” The marquee was packed to capacity and the local rockerati had turned up in large numbers for this one. One way of describing AM is to say they are different. That is true but then that is not a bad thing; maybe it would be better to say they are original; unique even. But then, when By The Rivers first played in this field, we thought then they were different – and look where they got to! With successful bands it’s not just about the music – it’s also about the package that goes with it. What singer Cass Rowe brings to the band is a stage act that has a persona that stands out; he is the band, the music, the dazzle.
Following Ash Mammal on the Marquee Stage was Leicester band Last Edition. Some might remember that the band appeared at the Download Festival in 2014.
What I noticed about the festival was that people turned up at the right places, at the right times. Everyone had clearly studied their programmes (which were provided free) and made their way to see the acts that interested them. There were few clashes; as one stage finished, another started up, so there was little of that having to be in two places at once. Quite a lot of those I met had been to the previous Summer Sundae events and had come to this one certain that it would provide them with an experience of the same musical calibre. People were here from all over the country. The acts might have been local but the audience certainly wasn’t.
On the indoor stage the performance by Clubs was one of the most frequently mentioned sets in the bars and gardens. If I asked random people what they remember most of today’s programme, nearly everyone made reference to Clubs.
Compere Alex introduced Clubs as “ambient pop rockers.” Well, as I listened to them playing on the Indoor stage, I remembered the time was I was sat here listening to Kyte, Tired Irae and similar bands of that time. Clubs bears comparison to bands of that standard.
Clubs played at The Musician on 12th June this year, Keith Jobey was there to tell us about it [Music in Leicester] commenting on that appearance, Keith wrote:
The slow and steady rise of Clubs continues. This gig being their biggest headline show to date and it brings to an end a UK tour. They also have some great festival slots this summer including Simon Says and T in the Park, where they’ll be on the BBC introducing stage (we might see them on TV). They’re also due in the studio again to record more tracks. As for the gig, the Musician has filled up, including fans at the front holding up a ‘We love you Matt’ sign. It’s a pretty comprehensive set from the band, with most of their songs getting an airing. A set that gets the crowd dancing, singing and partying. A set that shows off their excellent collection of songs, all delivered with confident ease.
A full house heard them play a set that included songs as such as Second Sister, Hot and Cold Feet and East Coast.
This was a magnificent performance by one of Leicester’s most celebrated bands.
The Marquee stage was brought to a resounding finale by the performance of The Brandy Thieves. Another set that was so packed out, you wished they had been on a bigger stage. This is a band that sits at the top of the city’s musical tree. I remember the band’s appearance at the Riverside Festival (a few months ago) when even more people enjoyed their thrilling music. [Music in Leicester]
What an amazing performance! With their gypsy melodies and punk-style rhythms, laced with ska, this unique band delivered a formidable set that was second to none. A stunning performance from lead singer Andrea Kenny accompanied by Cain Barriskill (bass), Bernardo Mendes (drums), James Jarvill (guitar) and Joe Carey (the new accordion player.) The first song started with a solo on the trumpet and then Andrea came in with an acapella vocal passage; after that it just took off and soared. Favourite songs played today: Howling to the Moon, The Owl and the Pussycat, and more. It was an amazing atmosphere; people were standing outside to listen, the rhythms were utterly compulsive and Andrea’s was nothing short of sensational.
British Sea Power is a band that has played in Leicester before. Their return to the city was welcomed by large numbers of people who had seen them previously and by a large posse of their devoted fans who had crowded into the front of stage area, the biggest turn-out of the day here in the Indoor Stage. The stage had been specially prepared for the set with trees and coloured lights. The band was joined by a viola player (Abi Fry) for some of the songs, adding an extra layer into the already rich orchestration. Keyboard and cornet player Phil Sumner was positioned on the drum riser alongside Matthew Wood. Lead singer Yan Scott Wilkinson on vocals added the meat to the songs, adding to the rich and complex harmonies.
Outside, the day was brought to a close with a party. On stage was Tann-I Browne with his Ankh band and the Bob Marley songs, for which is has become famous, flowed thick and fast; the crowd joined in with many of them and there was much dancing to the infectious rhythms of the Caribbean.
As I made my way home, I felt exhausted and satisfied. Exhausted by the sheer physical endurance demanded by the constantly moving programme and my appetite for music was completely satisfied. It has been a brilliant day; good weather, good music and plenty of good company.
Sunday 26th July saw the great British summer gathered its malevolence and unleashed its waters to wet the festival pretty much all day. The enthusiasm of the music fans was not dampened as they enjoyed another day of top-notch music. A large crowd assembled in the Indoor Stage to hear Leicester band Beneath The Lights put on a storming set of their high-powered songs. Another case of a local band going from the stages of small venues (such as The shed, to the main stage at the DMH, always an inspiring story.) The music of BTL epitomises all that is good about the Leicester sound, a distinctive style of rock marked by exciting songs, sparkling stage craft and compelling rhythms. One of the city’s great young bands.
Opening the outdoor stage, Leicester-born singer Prash Gor filled the garden with his stunning voice, amusing anecdotes and enchanting songs. Well done to the BBC for introducing people to two very talented local artists at this event. He is remembered well here at MIL; we discovered him one night at an open-mic event being extremely nervous at performing a couple of songs but since then has gone on to become a very confident and successful artist. he enchanted the audience today with his sumptuous vocals and amazing stories.
It was a rewarding experience to see Jersey Budd again. Probably one of the most widely-celebrated singers of this city, his set on the Indoor stage was accompanied by three backing singers and violinist, in addition to his usual guitarist and drummer. The Jersey fans were out in force. Introduced by compère Alex as a “local legend” Jersey was no stranger to the festival stages of the city and beyond. Today he showed the DMH audience what a master of melody he is, as he filled the hall with his characterful voice. The singer was mentioned in the recently published biography of The Heroes, a band that performed with him on several occasions [The Heroes in Golden Times… Music in Leicester] He released his first album Wonderlands in 2009. A strong football supporter, he released Louis Armstrong’s When You’re Smiling with Leicester City FC, in celebration of the club’s success in reaching the Championship Play Offs and he sang the song on the pitch before the first leg against Cardiff City at the Walkers Stadium. Jersey appearance at the Strawberry Fields Festival in 2013. he has appeared in a variety of European countries including a recent tour in Bulgaria as well as doing gigs in the local venues. He performed a brand new song, today, which opened with a lively and upbeat intro.
He was followed by another much-loved singer – David Wyatt – who appearance was well attended and clearly much enjoyed. On the Outdoor Stage, Sean Grant & The Wolfgang gave the crowd a lively and upbeat set of sounds. He is an artist who had played in several of the city’s small venues and many people braved the drizzle to enjoy his singing and the band’s music. In april 2014, Sean and the gang played at the OBS and we wrote:
Sean Grant and The Wolfgang has distinguished itself as being a band that is setting the bar for style and originality. Sean Grant, leading the vocals, has a voice with an iconic sound and a stage presence to go with it. This is a band that has brought something fresh a new to the music scene. Listenable, pleasing and enjoyable songs sit hand in hand with mindful lyrics to give you a band that is extra-ordinary. [Music in Leicester]
Sepia Sun is a band we have seen a few times recently.
In The Marquee Stage people enjoyed the ear-lickingly beautiful sounds of Martha Bean, the richly vibrant songs of Violet Cities and the entrancing electro-ambient sounds of Sepia Sun. On stage were four musicians (but no drummer) delivering rich and powerful sounds.
Watch this video of Sepia Sun, courtesy of Kevin Gaughan.
Readers might remember that Violet Cities was the band that won the Play@LMF competition last year and went to on to perform at The Leicester Music festival. [Music in Leicester]
Later on there were hugely entertaining sets by Polly and, following her, the ever boyish charm of Michael Vickers.
Michael Vickers is a well-established artist, originally from Leicester, who now performs as a solo artist but once was in a local band called Kicking Habits.
Polly performed in the Marquee stage on sunday.
Watch this video of her performing, courtesy of Kevin Gaughan
Watch this video of Martha Bean’s performance, courtsey of Kevin Gaughan
Leicester loves ska and reggae and the crowd was richly rewarded by performances from El Pussycat and The Moderators; these compelling rhythms kept coming back throughout the two days.
El Pussycat drove away the gloom with their stomping set of dancy tunes. This Leicester ska band has been around since 2001 and since then have been playing shows all over the world.
In the Indoor Stage we heard the two spell-binding, soprano harmonies of Eden, two beautifully costumed young women who gave us something very different from anything else but what an amazing experience! They performed their own version of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, the song made famous by Pavarotti. They also did their own rendition of Metalicca’s Nothing Else Matters. Bet you’ve never heard that done by a pair of operatic sopranos before! With Take That’s Rule The World included this was an eclectic programme of songs. Hugely entertaining; smashing.
Another feature of the weekend was that Demon FM radio station was broadcasting live from the festival and airing plenty of interviews with the artists taking part.
On the outdoor stage, the now famous acapella harmonies of the Simpletones was a highlight of the day. By then the rain had stopped so a large crowd gathered on the grass to hear this hugely entertaining barbershop quartet and mini-male-voice choir sing some well known songs and their own works, that have delighted music lovers both in this city and around the UK.
Mountaintop Junkshop played on Sunday on the Band Stand Stage. Adrian Manning watched them and he said ‘If you are familiar with We Three and The Death Rattle or Ex Comets, you would recognise Jon Bennett and Amy Cooper, who in their guise as Mountaintop Junkshop took to the Bandstand in the pouring rain. Opening with Ice Dancers, from their great debut EP the band, completed by slide guitarist, Ross Voce, played a five song set of melancholy but uplifting songs including the wonderful I Dreamed I Heard Somebody Singing In a The Outhouse and a fantastic cover of Sonny and Cher’s A Cowboys Work Is Never Done which they also recorded earlier at the Leicester College pop-up studio and is available on Bandcamp. Throughout the set, Jon encouraged the hardy audience to come onto the stage and take shelter. The weather was miserable, but it didn’t matter as the music is so beautiful it was well worth enduring the rain. The band play soon at the Summer Art Trail and The Musician and new material is hopefully going to be available before the end of the year.’
Watch this video of Mountaintop Junkshop playing I Dreamed I Heard Somebody Singing In The Outhouse at Simon Says, courtesy of Adrian Manning
The two days saw the recognition of some amazing new and some well established talents; on the Band Stand we heard the sensational voices of singers Claire Schofield, Reuben Wisner, Mark Elliott and that of a completely new name (to me) Michael Kurtz.
The thing I noticed about 17-year old Michael Kurtz (from Loughborough) was his voice and its deep, rich timbre. A natural singing voice if ever I heard one. He writes his own songs and several people had mentioned to me how good he was.
One group of people who rarely get a mention in festival reports are the sound engineers. But, without their skill and dedication it would not be a festival. As it was, several musicians said to me that the sound was excellent across all of the festival stages. So, let’s hear for: the sound guys.
A small but very select group of people introduced and compared the four stages and their contribution should also be applauded.
Sunday closed with a performance by Alabama 3 (unplugged)
The band performed in Leicester in November 2014 at the O2 Academy and have made several other appearances at local venues, including The Donkey and The Charlotte.
Tickets prices this year from the Festival flyer:
Advanced tickets: adults £30, students £20, under 16s £10, under 10s £7.50 under 5s free.
The Editor writes:
This page had been published first in order to get the headlines out; over the next days I will flesh out the reviews of the acts and include more photos and links to on-line samples. I wanted to get something up quickly and give myself time to fully digest the many pages of notes that I took while I was there.
Two days of some of the best music you could wish for and a programme that offered a wide variety of choices…
We say: It was bloomin’ marvellous
The complete programme:
The A-Z line-up from the SSF website
Alabama 3 (unplugged) – Sunday – Outdoor Stage – 9pm
Ash Mammal – Saturday – Marquee Stage – 5pm
BBC Introducing Henry Jones – Saturday – Outdoor Stage – 1.30pm
BBC Introducing Prash Gor – Sunday – Outdoor Stage – 1.30pm
Beneath The Lights – Sunday – Indoor Stage – 2pm
Blu Flint – Sunday – Marquee Stage – 12.30pm
Brassick Bears – Sunday – Band Stand – 5.45pm
British Sea Power – Saturday – Indoor Stage – 9.15pm
Casino Empire – Saturday – Outdoor Stage – 2.30pm
Charlotte Carpenter – Saturday – Indoor Stage – 4pm
Claire Schofield – Sunday – Band Stand – 1pm
Clubs – Saturday – Indoor Stage – 6.15pm
Cohesion – Saturday – Marquee Stage – 4pm
David Wyatt – Sunday – Indoor Stage – 4pm
Dexeter – Sunday – Band Stand – 8pm
Dig Lazarus – Saturday – Indoor Stage – 2pm
Eden – Sunday – Indoor Stage – 5.15pm
El Pussycat – Sunday – Outdoor Stage – 4.30pm
Evie Ward – Sunday – Marquee Stage – 12.30pm
Ex Comets – Saturday – Indoor Stage – 5pm
Former Utopia – Saturday – Band Stand – 5.45pm
G.D. Sweeney – Saturday – Outdoor Stage – 4.30pm
Goldwater – Sunday – Marquee Stage – 8.15pm
Great Imitation – Saturday – Marquee Stage – 3pm
Hyde and Beast – Saturday – Outdoor Stage – 8.15pm
Idle Empire – Sunday – Band Stand – 12.30pm
Initial Thought – Saturday – Band Stand – 12.30pm
Jersey Budd – Sunday – Indoor Stage – 3pm
Jinnwoo – Saturday – Band Stand – 8.45pm
KAV – Saturday – Outdoor Stage – 6.45pm
King Brasstards – Saturday – Marquee Stage – 12.30pm
Lady Paradox – Saturday – Band Stand – 7.15pm
Last Edition – Saturday – Marquee Stage – 6.15pm
Mark Elliott – Sunday – Band Stand – 3.30pm
Marrakesh Express – Sunday – Outdoor Stage – 5.45pm
Martha Bean – Sunday – Marquee Stage – 2pm
Melanie Page – Saturday – Band Stand – 6.45pm
Michael Kurtz – Sunday – Band Stand – 7.30pm
Mikey Kerslake – Saturday – Band Stand – 12.30pm
Mikey Vickers – Sunday – Marquee Stage – 7pm
Mountaintop Junkshop – Sunday – Band Stand – 5pm
Nylon 9 – Sunday – Marquee Stage – 5.15pm
Polly – Sunday – Marquee Stage – 6.30pm
Racing Snakes – Saturday – Marquee Stage – 2pm
Reuben Wisner – Sunday – Band Stand – 1.30pm
Rhett Barrow – Saturday – Band Stand – 12.30pm
Rollo Markee and The Tailshakers – Saturday – Outdoor Stage – 3.30pm
Sally Barker and Strange Blues – Saturday – Outdoor Stage – 7.30pm
Sean Grant and The Wolfgang – Sunday – Outdoor Stage – 3.30pm
Sepia Sun – Sunday – Marquee Stage – 4pm
Siobhan Mazzei – Saturday – Band Stand – 12.30pm
Slow Motion – Saturday – Band Stand – 2.40pm
Sophia Marshall – Sunday – Band Stand – 4.30pm
Steve Parker – Saturday – Band Stand – 8.15pm
Sugabeat – Sunday – Band Stand – 2.30pm
Swamp Delta – Saturday – Outdoor Stage – 5.45pm
Tann-I Browne and the Ankh Band – Saturday – Outdoor Stage – 9.45pm
Temple of Lies – Saturday – Indoor Stage – 3pm
The Aurora – Sunday – Band Stand – 6.15pm
The Brandy Thieves – Saturday – Marquee Stage – 9pm
The Hardy Band – Sunday- Outdoor Stage – 2.30pm
The Moderators – Sunday – Indoor Stage – 8.30pm
The Ruby Doos – Saturday – Band Stand – 3.30pm
The Simpletones – Sunday – Outdoor Stage – 7.30pm
The Status Trio – Saturday – Marquee Stage – 1pm
The Urban Voodoo Machine – Sunday – Indoor Stage – 6.30pm
Titanic Jazz – Saturday – Band Stand – 4.30pm
Tony Wright (Terrorvision) – Saturday – Marquee Stage – 7.30pm ***NEW TIME***
Violet Cities – Sunday – Marquee Stage – 3pm