Over the weekend of 28-31st July, we headed up to the Lake District for Kendal Calling. Back for its eleventh year, the festival had certainly delivered a line-up that lived up to previous years. As we arrived, we could feel the excitement around, Kendal Calling truly represents a staple summer festival in the North of England. The campsite itself had a phenomenal view of miles of rolling Lake District fells as far as the eye could see; it certainly was a setting like no other.
For the first evening we headed for the main stage, which has previously hosted the likes of Elbow, Calvin Harris, and Snoop Dog. The support act for the evening was Catfish and the Bottlemen who reeled off a well-known selection of tracks off their two albums. Compared to seeing them headline Truck festival earlier that month, they were not quite as impressive but they gave us an excellent performance nonetheless. Any initial doubts were however washed away as Rudimental stepped up as the headline act. Their 12-man performance created an energy on stage that was unrivalled by any other act over the weekend. Their lead singers Anne Marie and Will Heard, alongside none other that DJ Locksmith performed with an infectious vibe; playing their smash hits from Feel the Love through to Lay It All On Me. We rounded off the evening by catching Dave Haslam in the House Party tent grooving to a mix of old school classic anthems.
Photo Credit: Scott Salt
Saturday allowed us to appreciate the eclectic mix of music offered by Kendal Calling and it was certainly the best day of the festival. Our morning started by nursing a hangover by the delightful lake-side VIP area, an idyllic recovery spot. As we got into the music, the highlight of the afternoon was undoubtedly watching Model Aeroplanes perform on the Calling Out stage. The lively crowd gave these Scottish lads more than they could have wished for as the their brand of indie.rock went down a treat. The afternoon’s main stage lineup saw Maximo Park play a set full of their well-known hits, followed by a simply bizarre performance by The Darkness (who, if we’re honest, we didn’t even know were still around). Justin Hawkins, The Darkness’ lead singer openly admitted “there’s no point playing our new stuff that you lot didn’t buy, so we’ll get on with playing our old songs”. I suppose his honesty was refreshing.
As Kelis stepped on stage, there was certainly a feeling that things could continue to descend into further oddity. Whilst her the start of her performance alluded to this worry, as soon as she played ‘Bounce’, new life was breathed into the performance. The second half of her set saw a series of dance-covers alongside, of course, the infamous ‘Milkshake’. As a result, Kelis made a surprisingly good warm-up act for Madness who treated a very excited crowd to a well-polished performance of back-to-back classics. From Baggy Trousers, to Our House and finishing, naturally, with It Must be Love, they were unbeatable.
Our evening then proceeded to take yet another surprising turn as headed to the Glow Tent, the home of dance music for the weekend, to see Craig David. He stepped out to a crowd that were pretty fired up after Toddla T’s set but he certainly took things to a whole new level. Craig David’s comeback truly has to be seen to be believed as the man himself (minus the pencil beard) gave us a show to remember. His performance was flawless; a perfect combination of old hits like Fill Me In and Re-Rewind, alongside his live lounge covers that went viral of Justin Bieber and more. The Glow Tent made the perfect setting for this spectacle, the after-hours closed-in tent provided an intimate atmosphere for the mass of thriving enthusiastic fans.
Sunday provided more of an opportunity to relax. Last year had introduced the Lost Eden area to the festival, which once again delivered a magical range of emerging and established visual and performance artists. It served as a great place to explore, as well as hosting two smaller stages, our favourite of which was the Woodlands stage. This stage was dedicated to showcasing early stage talent and our favourite by far on Sunday afternoon was The Floodgates.
Other highlights of the Sunday included Sundara Karma, Spring King and GhostPoet on the Calling Out stage, who provided an excellent substite to the mainstage for more alternative music. That said, the end of the evening was rounded off by Everything Everything’s euphoric performance followed by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. We took time out of seeing Noel Gallagher to watch GhostPoet’s dramatic set but returned for the final 20 minutes – a decision that turned out to be one of the best choices we made. It was just at that point he started to bring out the Oasis tracks. The main stage had gathered an unprecedented mass of people for the evening’s performance with swathes of people standing all the way up the grassy banks to witness historic Oasis hits be played out one after another. Noel Gallagher’s performance provided the perfect round-off to Kendal Calling, bringing together the different generations that had been represented across the different stages over the weekend.
Photo Credit: Scott Salt
Other highlights of the weekend included the Bowie Disco and Prince Disco at the infamous Tim Peaks’ Diner, as well as the slightly more relaxed Chai Wallah and Riot Jazz stages. The Jägerhaus, now a staple of any remotely rural UK festival, also provided a great place to hang out and enjoy DJs take over the decks. If all the music wasn’t enough to enjoy, the Soapbox tent also saw the comedic talent of Jason Manford, Rob Rouse and Steve Shanyaski take to the stage, which made another fantastic edition to the festival.
Kendal Calling was an excellent example of how to host a rural festival; from the splendid setting to the star-studded lineup, the weekend catered for a cross-generation demographic and provided a fantastic edition to our summer.
Review by Tom McGivan and Harry Rice
Headline image Photo Credit: Jody Hartley