Sun, sea, and sand...

Sun, sea, and sand...not the setting we’re used to in festival season but Summercase has them all and more to boot.

Slowly creeping into the conscience of the festival going public in its three year existence, the four stages of Summercase, based in Barcelona and Madrid on the same weekend is on the verge of becoming a major player in the festival season and with good reason.

The blazing Barcelona heat is the perfect setting for Ian Browns’s particular brand of stoned rock, belting out tracks such as ‘F.E.A.R’ and ‘Golden Gaze’, it’s when Mani joins that he really gets the crowd going with note perfect renditions of ‘I am the resurrection’ and ‘Made of Stone’, he still sings like a puppy in a bag heading towards a watery death but it works a treat, who needs John Squire?

With the audience rapidly increasing, the main stage is treated to Nick Cave’s Grinderman’s brand of pychobilly punk blues and is electrifying, especially ‘Honey Bee’ and the dumb-assed rock of ‘No pussy blues’. With Cave jumping around onstage flanked by a crazed Warren Ellis, they prove old men can behave just as badly as the young ‘uns and it’s great.

Talking of the oldies, the biggest audience of the evening is for Blondie in the cavernous Walkman stage which has an almost gladiatorial feel to it. Oddly, it’s the horrific ‘Maria’ that gets them going rather than a majestic ‘Rapture’, the crowd inexplicably stay for the meat and two veg Top Man indie of Maximo Park whilst the main stage is visited by one of the finest bands to come out this decade, Interpol. As the last of the days sun subsides appropriately to black, they raise the bar to a level many bands can’t reach, with an opening gambit of ‘Pioneer to the falls’, ‘a frantic ‘Slow Hands’ and a stunning ‘PDA’, their doom laden miserablism stuns the crowd.

The smallest stage Converse (the fourth being the Levis, a dj tent), has some of the more interesting smaller acts such as Glasvegas, Cornelius and Ed Banger acts, Mr Flash and Vicarious Bliss, the best being DFA act The Juan Maclean. With members of !!! and LCD Soundsystem, their live take on twisted house music goes down a treat with the crowd getting down to some serious shape pulling, result!

How did everyone fall in love with The verve again? Revivalism at its worst is seeing a band flanked by two people who obviously despise each other but love cash. At least bands such as The Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine created their own musical legacy; The Verve made two great albums in ‘A storm in heaven’ and ‘A Northern Soul’ but accidentally made the first solo Ashcroft album in the massively over-rated ‘Urban Hymns’ but never actually made anything that cutting edge, they just turned shoegaze into pop music.
Having said that, they put on a great show and make the main stage theirs for the night, ‘Sonnet’ and ‘Bittersweet symphony’ are accepted with misty eyed glee but it’s the lesser known tracks such as ‘Stormy clouds’ and ‘Life’s an ocean’ which remind you why you loved them in the first place.

The programming of Interpol whilst the sun was setting to be followed by The Verve was a stroke of genius but having them followed by Primal Scream who disastrously clashed with 2 Many DJs was a mistake. The Scream, despite being one of the greatest UK acts of all time are not a main stage headlining act, they thrive being up against it. Their headline slot on the other stage at Glastonbury 2003 was one of their best gigs of all time whilst REM were boring people into submission on the main stage.

Tonight however, they dampen the euphoria by crashing the party, where once they were electrifying, they have failed to excite as much since Robert Young left despite playing many of the same songs.
Granted ‘Swastika Eyes’; the greatest song of the 1990s and ‘Rocks’ still raise the roof but still finding a place for the stodgy ‘Jailbird’ but not electro classic ‘Miss Lucifer’ is unforgiveable. Their soon come eleventh album ‘Beautiful Future’ proves there’s still life in the old dogs yet as it’s their finest since ‘Exterminator’ in 2000 and is one of their most consistent albums.

Tonight though, the single ‘Can’t go back’ aside, the new tracks are greeted with a muted response. The cheeky Kaiser Chiefs-esque title track is the Scream making great pop and live is fantastic while ‘Suicide Bomb’ is Mary Chain inspired dark sleaze and the deep disco of ‘Uptown’ could easily be sung by Kylie Minogue, something the crowd obviously wished for instead.

Ending with a spiky ‘Country Girl’ which creates a mass sing-along, they sign off a successful day one for Summercase.

Click here for Part Two!
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