Kendal Calling hosted sets from Noel Gallagher, Peter Doherty, Blossoms and more – but the location was the real star, writes Anthony Longstaff
They say that good things come in small packages and that certainly describes Kendal Calling. Blessed with its serenity and rolling countryside, the fields of Lowther Deer Park provide a location not only memorable for its beauty but for the neatly wrapped package that Kendal Calling comes in.
Photo: Anthony Longstaff
The line-up is eclectic, mixing saviours of rock with pioneers of hip hop. It puts mashed-up reggae in a cider garden. It takes some of the finest up and coming new bands and places them in front of thousands of people while hosting retro bands in compact venues for intimate shows. It’s kind of contradictory, but the fans love it.
The Charlatans – photo: Anthony Longstaff
Headlined by Noel Gallagher, Rudimental and Madness, Kendal has a line-up that at first glance seems like a boutique party in the park, but delve a little further and you’ll find a cavalcade of gems from the likes of Peter Doherty, Blossoms, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Pretty Vicious, The Hives, Eagulls, The Charlatans, and more.
Arriving on Thursday we catch the tail end of Ash‘s set but are in time for a mega performance from The Charlatans. It’s a sea of bucket hats and bowl cuts but Tim Burgess is setting the scene for an amazing weekend.
On the Friday we take in some sweet performances from Haus, Blossoms, Rat Boy and Milburn. Catfish and the Bottlemen execute a solid set which draws the second largest main stage crowd of the weekend.
Blossoms – photo: Anthony Longstaff
The evening is rounded off with drum’n’bass phenomenon Rudimental.
Saturday afternoon paves the way to possibly my favourite set of the weekend, an intimate performance from ’90s Britpop veterans Dodgy. It’s me, Nigel, Math and Andy in a ‘secret’ location and 70 or so other people playing classics such as ‘Staying out for the Summer’, ‘Good Enough’ and ‘In a Room’. From the smile on my face after their 45 minute slot it’s like I’ve been given free Greggs pasties for life.
Northeasterners Maximo Park produce a rousing set on the main stage followed by an outstanding 50 minutes of nostalgic rock from the self proclaimed saviours of rock, The Darkness.
The Hives follow with an exceptionally energetic set. It’s a Swedish garage rock masterpiece with an unusually long-haired Pelle Almqvist smashing hits like ‘Hate to Say I Told You So’ and ‘Walk Idiot Walk’.
The evening is finished off by Madness with a predictable but enjoyable set.
Sunday brings a trickle of rain and a few extra clouds. Its a more laid-back day on site with a few thick heads strolling around, and the bucket hats and rounded rose coloured glasses are out in anticipation of a certain former member of Oasis.
The Main Stage is opened by Yorkshire indie boys The Sherlocks, who for that time of the day bring in a fairly sizeable crowd. We catch solid performances from Warrington band Slydigs and Leeds rockers Where Fires Are who are both on the smaller stages but pull off some big stage sets.
The Sugarhill Gang bring some hip hop nostalgia to the North West, famous for their top 40 Billboard hit ‘Rapper’s Delight’. The Lightning Seeds grace the stage with their ’90s anthems setting up the finale from Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds.
It’s fair to say the majority of the 20 odd thousand people are waiting for this set, anticipating a few Oasis classics in there too.
He doesn’t disappoint, covering 10 Oasis tracks including ‘Half the World Away’, ‘Champagne Supernova’ and ‘Fade Away’. With the addition of a couple of his own pretty exceptional solo songs including ‘The Mexican’ and ‘The Ballad of the Mighty’, the set is the perfect ending to what’s been a fairly amazing weekend.
Kendal adds a certain touch of panache to festival season. It’s happy and chilled yet bouncing with energy after dark. Its great to take the kids yet still enjoyable for parents when the little ones have nodded off. Let’s hope Kendal retains its identity as a music lover’s festival as its popularity grows.