I arrived at Kendal Calling with very high expectations after previous goers had explained to me at length the sheer brilliance of this festival and being the pessimist I am, I was kind of expecting it to be not all that. How wrong I was, and after the first night I spent the rest of my weekend with my glass half full. When planning to write this review I was struggling to put my finger on the one thing that makes Kendal Calling such a special festival: Is it the crowd pulling headliners or the gorgeous countryside setting? No, I think it is the effort this festival puts in to surpass expectations.
In the case of the best medium festival of 2013 (and hopefully 2014) the result of the sum is certainly better than the individual factors but said individual factors definitely deserve a mention. Let’s take some, at least before the festival started, gorgeous green countryside with a mass of fields and giant oak trees and chuck in some cumbrians, mancunians, scots, and geordies into the abyss. They of course need some music, art, raves, family zone,s and a disappointing but consistent spray of H2O and you have the perfect music festival. And we haven’t even mentioned the line up yet.
The best of Friday’s line up, in my opinion, came from Suede who brought an anthemic headline set to the main stage wowing the vast crowd with hit after hit of singalong brilliance; De La Soul who despite coming on let and performing the shortest main stage set I have ever seen impressed the crowd with a whirlwind of classics; the up and coming masterpiece that is Catfish and The Bottlemen who brought one of the largest crowds to the calling out tent with their powerful riff driven songs forcing anticipation of the album onto the strong crowd; and, fresh from supporting Kodaline on tour, Amber Run provided a brilliant set with their songs which seemed perfectly fitting for the setting which we all found ourselves in. Top this off the The Ramona Flowers; The Lottery Winners; and a little bit of Bondax and we have a not to be forgotten first day at Kendal.
By far my favourite day of the festival was the Friday which saw Frank Turner and his Sleeping Souls take to the main stage and smash Kendal Calling with a perfect headline set. He played hit after hit and treated the pilgrims to a few new songs with the energy and passion he never seems to lose, by far the best act of the weekend and probably the most deserving of that treasured headline slot on the main stage. This is not to belittle the brilliance of the rest of the line up starting off with Calling Out performer Rae Morris, the perfect voice of Rae travelled through the fields and forced everyone who walked past to stop and listen meaning the calling out tent had a pretty big crowd by the end of her set, there is no doubt Rae will go on to brilliant things when her album is released later this year. Other impressive sets came from Happy Mondays, Newton Faulkner, and of course Razorlight who may have led one of the biggest sing-alongs of the weekend with their pop hits. End the night of with a set from 2ManyDJs and you have another perfect day at Kendal Calling.
When Sunday hit us we didn’t let the last day blues get to us just yet as we prepared ourselves for the might of Clean Bandit, Tom Odell, Miles Kane, Frightened Rabbit, and Example to name but a few to impress us with their festival sets. Clean bandit epitomised their rise out of nowhere by performing all their house hits to a massive main stage crowd on Sunday afternoon. Followed by Tom Odell who changed the mood completely with is piano led tunes sending an altogether different but brilliant atmosphere through the fields. This atmosphere was once again altered by the forever energetic Miles Kane who smashed a set out effortlessly bringing out the mod in all of us. And of course we have to mention the fantastic Example who ended the weekend with pyrotechnics, pop hits and a very rowdy crowd with a set which not many Sunday nights at festivals would have received.
That, in a nutshell, is Kendal calling. There is something for everyone as you can see with the brilliance of the line up and despite a few drop outs and what could be described as wash out weather, spirits certainly were not dampened, pardon the pun, and if everyone at the festival had half as much fun as I did, it was certainly a success. Here’s to their 10th birthday next year, bring it on Kendal.
Review by Jack McCabe |