Festival Review + Photos: Kendal Calling 2015 (Elbow, Kaiser Chiefs, The Vaccines, James, The Horrors, Temples, + more)

Kendal Calling recently celebrated their 10th birthday and I couldn’t resist returning to join in with the party. They boasted a sterling line up full of chart toppers, folk legends, and a gangster rapper (who turned up) – you can’t get better than that.

We set off from Preston with eager anticipation to see what the fields had in store for us this time around, 4 hours later and we are still in the car which brings me onto my first, and probably only, criticism of the weekend. The traffic was not dealt with well and it took us 3 hours to get onto the site, but once we had finally arrived, we pitched our tent and went straight into the arena. Because it was a special birthday for Kendal, they decided to make it a 4 day festival and put on an extra headliner for those attending on the Thursday night, no other than James. The Manchester band put on a brilliant performance which turned out to be one of my highlights of the weekend. They commanded the stage and had the crowd in the palm of their Mancunion hands. The stand out moment of the set was ironically ‘Sit Down’ which led the revellers into a sing-along which carried on even after the song had finished.

When James had finished their set we had the chance to explore the wonderful site of Lowther Deer Park, a perfect setting for this festival which had plenty of hidden treasures to be found. It felt like home after minutes of being there and with woodland areas which turned into stages, fairground rides, art exhibitions, comedy, and enough bars to shake a stick out – there was always something to do. Once we had explored the site, we headed over to one of my favourite stages of the weekend, Chai Wallahs, and saw Richie Campbell who was another highlight of the weekend. Richie is a Portuguese reggae singer and provided the perfect opportunity to dance until the early hours with his catchy songs and authentic voice. His cover of ‘ain’t no sunshine’ had the crowd in harmony and it was a perfect way to end the first day of Kendal.

We woke up fresher than expected on the Friday and headed straight to the main stage to catch Beardyman’s set. He was on probably earlier than he should have been and the setting wasn’t quite right, he is perfect for a tent quite late at night so perhaps he was a little out of his comfort zone but he put on a great show considering the issues. Then we headed over to the always varied calling out stage where we caught Laura Doggett about to start – the crowd was a lot smaller than I expected but she took to the stage with the presence of someone with a lot more experience and I could sense a real influence from Florence. Her set seemed perfect for Kendal Calling, it was mysterious, magical, and no one could predict what was going to happen next. After this we headed back to the main stage to see both The Levellers and The Vaccines who performed exactly as expected, with experience and flare to keep the crowd going as they always do. When the headliners finished, it was the perfect time to wander down to one of the smaller stages so we went down to the Woodlands stage and got a big surprise in the form of Slamboree who can only be described as a dubstep circus and I loved every minute of it. Then we headed back to Chai Wallah’s and saw Mr Scruff who made sure the rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits and provided an amazing 3 hour set to close off the day. Then it was off to get some food from one of the many stalls and bed.

Saturday brought with it great weather and a great line up – slightly worsened by Kodaline pulling out due to illness which disappointed me as I was really looking forward to seeing them but they were aptly replaced by Super Furry Animals. The main stage was an abundance of talent on the Saturday with the first three acts we saw all blowing us away with their sets – Hudson Taylor, Lucy Rose, and Nick Mulvey all catered to the crowd perfectly and the beautiful weather only added to the atmosphere on the Saturday afternoon. After this was another one of my highlights from the weekend, The Horrors who played a mesmerising set as they always do with everything from the crowd to the lights being perfect. Although I think The Horrors are better fitted to a tent, there were no complaints from me regarding their show. We then headed to The Soapbox which is Kendal’s comedy tent to see what it had to offer and were so impressed that we visited there numerous times throughout the weekend to catch some live comedy. Highlights from the comedy tent came from Dan Nightingale, John Fothergill, and Titty Bar Haha who all brought the house, well tent, down with laughter from their brilliant and original material. Now back to the music. It was time for, in my opinion, the best set of the weekend which came from Manchester band Elbow. They are the perfect headliner for Kendal and provided a beautiful set filled with sing-along’s, dancing, and admiration from the audience. They are an incredible live experience and I’d urge everyone to go and see them. We then headed to the glow tent to finish off the Saturday where My Nu Leng gave everyone the chance to dance the night away.

Sunday arrived so quickly and it was time to start our final day at the festival. Rumours were travelling through the campsites as to whether Snoop Dogg was going to turn up after being stopped at an airport earlier that day. First we saw The Everly Pregnant brothers who provided a set full of laughs and one very similar to that which we would later see from The Lancashire Hotpots. Next up was Billy Bragg who not only sang his wonderful folk songs but gave his opinion on politics – if you are interested, he is a big fan of Jeremy Corbyn. Next up we headed to The Woodlands to see Jeremiah Ferrari play another one of my favourite sets from the weekend. The Lancashire based reggae band have such catchy songs it’s hard not to enjoy them wherever and whenever they play, this is proven by the fact we saw them later that day for the second time at the Riot Jazz stage. Then we headed off to the eagerly anticipated and worried about Snoop Dogg’s set – although about half an hour late, he turned up with the swag and dancers you’d expect and gave the crowd exactly what they wanted – a set full of hits, ridiculous but brilliant covers, and wisdom only Snoop himself could come out with. It was then up to Kaiser Chiefs to finish off the weekend and they did so with a set full of pop hits the crowd had to join in with and they ended the weekend by singing happy birthday to the festival and starting off a firework display. We then tried to get back into the glow tent to see Groove Armada but it was too full and we couldn’t get in – so back to the comedy tent we went.

It was an amazing weekend and the best festival I have had the pleasure of attending, happy birthday Kendal Calling, here’s to another 10 years.


Kaiser Chiefs

The Vaccines


Super Furry Animals

The Horrors

Nick Mulvey

Public Service Broadcasting

Less Than Jake


Lucy Rose

Kate Tempest

Gaz Coombes

Dutch Uncles

Hudson Taylor

The Bohicas


Treason Kings


The Gramotones


Alex Hulme

Boxed In

Feed the Kid


Collectors Club

Demob Happy

Jeramiah Ferrari

Jeramiah Ferrari

Holy Moly and the Crackers

The Bear Around Your Neck

Follow updates from Kendal Calling here.

Photos Hana Harrison (@hanamariephoto) | Review by Jack McCabe (@JackMcCabeIMN)

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