Festival Review: Kendal Calling 2016 (The Charlatans, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Rudimental, Maximo Park, Sundara Karma, + Pale Waves)

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds by Scott Salt
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds | Photo by Scott Salt

Every year I go to Kendal Calling and every year I struggle to emphasise how bloody good it is. This year it was especially amazing due to the gorgeous weather on top of the wonderful line-up.

We set off from Preston on the Thursday slightly worried about how long it was going to take us to get onto the site given the terrible delays last year. However we were pleasantly surprised as the organisation was brilliant and we got straight in. We pitched our tent and headed straight to the Arena where The Charlatans were about to take to the stage to headline the first night. They put on, as they always do, a great show and they really are Kendal Calling favourites with frontman Tim Burgess having a whole diner named after him. When The Charlatans had finished we had a little explore of the gorgeous site which has plenty of hidden gems to be found including art installations and fairground rides. We then went on to catch the brilliant Jenna and the Gs play the Chai Wallah tent who, although unknown to me, blew me away with their disco anthems combined with drum and bass tracks. Then it was time for some festival food and bed.

We woke up fresh on Friday morning and headed straight to the Calling Out stage to catch Manchester bands Alias Kid and Pale Waves play equally impressive sets. They are two bands I have kept my eye on for a while and there are big things to come I’m sure. Then we made our way to the main stage to catch Milburn play an incredible and nostalgic set. The Sheffield indie piece took us back to our younger years with the energy to suggest they had never been away. We then awaited the New York city based indie rock band We Are Scientists followed by one of the highlights of the weekend, Catfish and the Bottlemen who provided a masterclass in how to control a crowd, which was probably one of the biggest of the weekend. Every song was a fan favourite and it is clear to see why they have soared to the top of the bill so quickly. Then came on Rudimental who pleased the crowd of people from the ages of 3 to 83. Hits such as Waiting all night, Bloodstream, and Feel The Love lit up the crowd just as the flares did and it was a euphoric end to a wonderful day. We then made our way to the Riot Jazz tent to see one of my favourite bands, Jeramiah Ferrari, they never disappoint and played an incredible reggae-filled set to take us into the night. We ended our Friday by catching some late night comedy, and then back to the tent.

Saturday came quickly and was opened by festival favourites The Lancashire Hotpots who provided comedy song after comedy song and really set the mood for another glorious day, I can’t imagine Kendal Calling without them. After this we headed to the Carvetti stage in the woods where we watched some wonderful spoken word with highlights coming from Marvin Cheeseman and the wonderful Thick Richard. After this we had just enough time to make it to the main stage to catch glamrockers The Darkness and indie legends Maximo Park play two of the most popular sets of the weekend. I’ll never get sick of hearing books from boxes, it was the theme-tune to my adolescence and so was a great moment. We then went for another explore before heading back to catch Madness who played a set which was very much of two halves. The veteran band lost the audience in the first half the set playing relatively unknown songs and, at one point, resorting to poems. The second half of the set however is what everyone was hoping for, filled to the brim with hits and gave rise to plenty of dad dancing. We then spent a little while dancing in the glow tent before heading off to bed ready for our final day in the fields.

Sunday was the day I was most looking forward to with a few of my favourite bands gracing the fields. We started off at the main stage to watch Dub Pistols and Rag’n’Bone Man who both played energy filled sets which may have benefited from being on later in the day. We then headed to Calling Out to see up and comers Sundara Karma play a 30 minute set which proved sets don’t have to be long to be incredible, and I can’t wait to see them on tour. We then headed to the main stage to catch Manchester based band Everything Everything who played one of my favourite sets of the weekend. Despite missing my favourite song off their setlist they played a musically genius set and drew a large crowd just before the headline act. Then it was time for the legend that is Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds to take to the stage, and holy smoke was it worth the wait. Noel played a incredible set filled with both his own tracks and Oasis anthems which turned the crowd into a euphoric choir. He had brilliant stage presence, at one point telling an audience member to get to fuck for carrying a Yorkshire rose. I don’t think I will have a better musical memory than hearing Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger played just how they should. An amazing end to an amazing weekend and I can’t wait to get back in the fields in 2017.


Follow updates from Kendal Calling here.

Review by Jack McCabe | @JackMcCabeIMN

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