Maximo Park are simply astonishingly great live 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 - Maximo Park
Photo credit: Claire Lacey

Ben & Jerry's Sundae (London) 2011

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

Day two of the Sundae, and time for an extra portion of free ice cream and music. This time I promised myself I would get some delicious strawberry cheesecake, but with endless queues again I settled for some coconut and cherry. This melted in the surprise shock of the day's line-up...the sun who indeed had his hat one and was smiling down on the un-suspecting Londoners lying down on the beer stained grass.

around the festival site (Sunday)
Sound Of Rum, Starlings, and Little Comets tried their best to entertain the lazy congregation, with only the latter succeeding. Their percussion led indie set, one part Vampire Weekend one part Maccabees were vastly appreciated and 'One Night In October' for a few minutes found itself an unorthodox summer classic. Much kudos to the boys for having a clothesline over the stage with different percussion hanging by string; Blue Peter would have been proud.

Stu Goldsmith returns again as the cheeky MC of the day, seriously having far too much fun teasing us with ice cream. We were treated by half naked models on stage working for 'Pants for Poverty' which is maybe the oddest act that Stephen Fretwell has ever followed. The northern singer- songwriter made a joke about the odd setting for a man to "sing miserable songs". He was rather out of place on a sunny afternoon, with a suit jacket on and just an acoustic guitar. Fretwell gratefully praised us for a much warmer reaction than he received in Manchester the day before, which means there must have been even less than the twenty or so who stood to watch his performance!

The Duke and The King
New Yorkers The Duke & The King seemed to have walked out into the wrong festival, the troubadours looking rather well travelled. They would certainly feel more at home in a field in Austin than Clapham Common but they win over the crowd with their soul/glam rock n roll. With all members switching instruments and vocals they play for the same cause; to just play music to as many people as they can. They seem to be loving it, and surely they will sell at least 100 more records on the basis of this performance. A cover of Bob Dylan's 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' alongside their own material 'If You Ever Get Famous' and 'Shaky' does enough to even hear some singing from the other side of the stage. But is it possible for anyone to now sing 'Knocking On Heaven's Door' without singing the Axl Rose "hey, hey, hey, hey, hey" part? Apparently not.

Gary Numan
Next up 80s synth god and now industrial lover Gary Numan. I'm rather unsure if there was anyone today who owns all the albums of the main bands. The word eclectic was invented for today, and the all-in-black attire of the Numanoids didn't really fit in. They were there for one reason; to see their hero play at half past five on a scorching Sunday afternoon. The St John's Ambulance on hand for fainting Goths.

Numan came on with his band of lookalikes, sporting a Nine Inch Nails T-shirt and eyeliner. Straight into his harder laced sound, the children near the front have to be carried away by the bombast from the speakers. He looks on exchanging one rock star posture for another. It's a shame that Numan has continued to choose his 90s industrial change of direction, as retro synth couldn't be anymore popular at the moment, and I for one would have much preferred to hear a stripped down synth version of 'Cars' and 'Down in the Park' than the ones covered in guitar and wailing keyboards. His newer material all seemed to melt into one and apart from a much needed 'Are Friends Electric?' I felt myself drifting away. At least he seemed to enjoy himself and must have drunk about 10 litres of water in an hour; impressive.

Maximo Park
Stuart Goldsmith returns for one last time to thank us for coming along, to recap all the charities in attendance and then throw even more ice cream into the audience all waiting for Maximo Park's first festival this year. The Geordie heroes run out to screams from the beautiful young ladies who have replaced the middle aged Numanoids and Paul Smith, wearing trilby and jacket like an indie Sinatra, kicks off with 'Girls Who Play Guitar'. Without seeing the band for 5 years I was unsure about how they would be; it's a long time since their debut glory and had the lesser success of their last album calmed down the bravado of the group.

Not at all, in fact they had more gusto and enjoyment in their own songs than I had ever seen them before. They are simply astonishingly great live. The frontline of Paul, Lukas and Duncan barely stand still for a minute, whilst the rhythm section are tight and focused. Paul banters with the crowd; they were thinking of doing a Rastamouse cover but instead they played 'Graffiti', not to too many grumbles as it's probably their greatest tune alongside 'Our Velocity', also played and equally brilliant.

The songs from 'Quicken the Heart' may not have the same effect on the audience than they wish, but this just stirred on Paul to scream for us to "come on" so we did and sadly it may take some time to restore the common turf. They end by playing a tease of the next album with 'Waves of Fear' that is more guitar heavy than usual but very Maximo Park and very catchy. They end with 'Apply Some Pressure'; there wasn't one person around me not singing' 'til their cheeks glow red. Paul stood watching with megaphone in one hand grinning ear from ear, and soaking in sweat. They leave, the crowd beg for them to return. Alas we are asked to leave the common and bid farewell to another successful Ben & Jerry's Sundae.
review by: Fran Jolley

photos by: Claire Lacey

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