Ocean Colour Scene break the news of Amy Winehouse's passing at Ben & Jerry's Sundae

Ben & Jerry's Sundae On The Common review

By Fran Jolley | Published: Tue 2nd Aug 2011

Ben & Jerry's Sundae (London) 2011 - Ocean Colour Scene
Photo credit: Claire Lacey

Ben & Jerry's Sundae (London) 2011

Saturday 23rd to Sunday 24th July 2011
Clapham Common, London, SW4 9DE, England MAP

In its seventh consecutive year Ben & Jerry's have been dishing out free ice cream alongside great musical acts such as British Sea Power, The Charlatans and Florence & the Machine. This year it expanded to Manchester as well, meaning that over 40,000 lucky punters could enjoy ice cream, sunshine and most importantly the toe wrestling, I mean the music.

As a new bee to the sundae (not a festival, as surely all festivals should involve camping and a curfew a lot later than 8pm) I wasn't sure what to expect, other than it would be on a field in south London. This much was true as I walked into the field and was ceremonially greeted by a man on stilts and a map of where I can get all my favourite ice cream. It is quite impossible to not be reminded of where you are. Ben & Jerry's trademark is stamped all over the Common. Tent after tent of desperate people queue up for a cone of ice cream whilst only the minority stand by the Main ( and only ) Stage watching bands including Munich, Misdirectors, and Ocean Colour Scene's lead guitarist Steve Cradock. The latter having the first surprise of the day with no other than James Buckley (Jay from The Inbetweeners) being bought out to play alongside his idol. Sadly this was the only highlight of a very formulaic dad rock set from Cradock.

Fun Lovin Criminals
After scouting round some more tents and giving up all hope of the strawberry cheesecake queue, I settled for some Jamaican sorbet and treaded carefully past the hundreds of picnic mats to get back to watch Fun Lovin' Criminals. Who actually manage to make some of the audience get to their feet and shuffle away from their Pimms and enjoy some music. Huey is on fine form, and FLC honestly look pleased to be performing their greatest hits set including 'King of New York', 'Love Unlimited' and obviously 'Scooby Snacks', allowing a fair number of 30 somethings to try out their new dad dances. But the potty mouthed Americans certainly need to stop dropping F bombs so frivolously before 5pm. Thank God they made up for it, bringing the wit and swagger needed to liven up what was fast becoming just an expensive picnic in the park.

The MC of the day, the excellent Stu Goldsmith, reminded us of all the amazing work Ben & Jerrys does for charity as well as all the other good causes on offer, whilst keeping us happy by throwing ice cream tubs into the audience. It seemed to work as by the time Ash had reached the stage there were thousands of on lookers awaiting the Ulster three.

Now without Russell Lissack from Bloc Party, who had recently been ex-lead guitarist Charlotte Hatherley's fine replacement, Ash takes the stage to play tracks mainly from their first 3rd and most recent albums. With so many quality songs like 'Girl From Mars' and 'Life Less Ordinary' they spark short term mosh pits and crowd sing a longs, until they try out their later material. 'Joy Kicks Darkness' is probably their finest song in 10 years but the Ash hardcore are not in attendance and it takes 'Kung Fu' to bring the partisan crowd back to their side. They end with 'Burn Baby Burn' where the missing fourth guitar sound is rather noticeable but the song still works and I find my feet hovering mid-air for most of the track. The trio seem as delighted as always to be playing for nearly 20 years together and they got the send-off they deserved.

Ocean Colour Scene
With a few games of giant banana volley ball and yet more ice cream thrown to the by then much intoxicated crowd, all waiting for the night's headline act Ocean Colour Scene. A band still going strong after 20 years, completing the trio of bands who were still wishing Chris Evans never left TFI Friday.

Since the end of the 90s OCS may still have a strong loyal mod following but haven't really had a radio hit in over ten years; the 90s is where they focused much of their set with just a few glimpses into last year's 'Saturday'. In fact the ghost of 'TFI Friday' is where they started the colossal riff of 'The Riverboat Song' sending out its nostalgic glory. Swaying alarms and more dad dancing continued on the grass and on the wings of the stage where nearly all of the band's friends and family stand visibly in the wings as if the band needs their own personal cheer leading squad. Quite off putting seeing so much black leather and feathered bowl cuts, singing to every word as if this was the most important day in Ocean Colour Scene's life.

Unfortunately this isn't their homecoming, it was Ben & Jerrys 'Sundae' and although a large number of at the front knew all the words, a vast number only new a handful of songs and quite frankly half way through another Steve Cradock solo it was hard to keep wondering how Ash were not headlining. A murmur was slowly spreading through the festival of Amy Winehouse's passing and singer Simon Fowler confirmed to everyone that it was true and how hard it was for the band to even play after hearing the news.

Ocean Colour Scene
But thank god they played on so that the now regular James Buckley (now dressed in full mod gear) could be welcomed to the stage to play along yet again. There was still time for a few more 90's hits, 'Travellers Tune', 'Hundred Mile High City' and the anthemic 'Day We Caught The Train' that still sounds as good now as it did on my cassette single over 15 years ago.

Not the best headline act, after all these years they are a tight proficient band who love each other greatly (as shown with a kiss on the lips from Steve and Simon after sharing a mic) it's just a shame that the majority of love for Ocean Colour Scene was on the stage. It seemed very odd to be leaving a concert before the sun had set, but not a bad start to the two day festival and a feeling that I should have gotten a lot more of the free ice cream on offer.
review by: Fran Jolley

photos by: Claire Lacey

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