Paul Goodwin

I scream, you scream, we all scream ice cream

Published on Mon 22 Aug 2011

I'm getting quite far behind with this whole thing, and I think it'll only get worse from here on in. On the other hand, my time's not being taken up with anything of interest, so maybe it won't. Anyway, a month or so ago we got a very crowded train down to London (one 4 coach train to Liverpool Street to take the passengers of three 8 coach trains to Kings Cross) for the Ben and Jerry's thing on Clapham Common, with the promise of all the free ice cream you could eat and some decent music. It was an unexpectedly beautiful day and we stopped off for a surprisingly tasty lunch at the O'Neill's next to Clapham tube (best burger I've had in ages) before getting in just as a band whose name I never found out were finishing. It was quite hard to tell which enormous queue was for which type of ice cream at that point, but after a 15 minute wait for what turned out to be pineapple or apricot or something else orange and inappropriate (when will people learn that ice cream should be either brown, yellow, or yellow with little bits of raspberry in?) we got some pretty nice Baked Alaska and watched a bit of Stephen Fretwell. The sound wasn't really loud enough where we were (or anywhere really - it was one of the quieter events I've been to) to grab our attention, though I've heard a few of the recordings and they didn't really grab my attention either.


There were two stages, of very different sizes. The first being pretty impressive, and the second looking a bit like something you'd get at a school fete. Most of the bands on it in the early part of the day sounded like Tom Waits impersonators singing circus music, but Rachel Sermanni was OK - she had a lovely voice and a nice line in songs about how it's annoying when you have to queue in chip shops.


When she was done we went over to the main stage to see Simone Felice from The Duke and the King stake a reasonable claim to being the coolest person in the entire world (though he was in a band with a man wearing what looked a lot like a fishing hat), as well as the best in the band at every instrument. I'd forgotten that he was the drummer in the Felice Brothers, but even if I hadn't I think I'd still have been taken aback by how enjoyable it was to watch when he took over. I like it when people drum with their entire body. I kept trying to take pictures of him standing on the kick drum but he kept getting down just too soon. 


I remembered quite a lot of the songs from his solo show at The Haymakers the other month, which is always a good sign. Though I do think maybe Knockin' on Heaven's Door should have been retired as a song that people can cover after the definitive Guns 'N' Roses version of the early 90's (only half joking). The Duke and The King (or Simone Felice on his own) are well worth seeing.


The surprise highlight of the entire thing was Gary Numan. My friend Chris bangs on about him all the time, but I've never been convinced. Obviously I knew a few of the classics, but I wasn't expecting it to be as energetic as it was, or as engrossing, or his band to be so young and energetic. The layering of sampled and live drums as well as real and synth bass made a pretty huge sound. To be fair the set also coincided with a very short queue at the chocolate flavour, which probably made me more amenable to things than I would otherwise be but I'll definitely try and see him the next time he's passing through. Odd fact - his biographer has the same name as I do.


Deer Park were the last thing playing on the second stage, with a full band this time, and were as good as the small stage sound allowed them to be. I think I enjoyed  him on his own better, but that might have just been the dark and the surprise. I really like the songs. 


We only watched a little bit of Maximo Park, who were good fun, but not worth adding an extra hour to the journey home for. They played the only song of theirs I know (and I had thought that was by The Automatic - you know, the one that goes "something something something - recover!") as we were walking arond the outside of the arena. We randomly bumped into my brother on the way to the station, which was strange as I didn't know he was going. That happened at Glastonbury once too. The world is smaller than you'd think.

I was never convinced about how much commercial sense it made to give away ice cream all day, but I'm completely sold on Ben and Jerry's now. Their chocolate flavour is even better than the cheapest sort you can get at Asda, which was my previous favourite, other than the stuff you get abroad. So, fair enough Ben, fair enough Jerry, you win.