REVIEW festival Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Kendal Calling Celebrates 10 Years In True Style

I’m slightly ashamed to say that this was my very first festival. I also have no intention of being at one with nature in a tent surrounded by others much younger than myself keeping me up all night. I’m at that age where I like to be comfortable. So as I set off from my hotel in Kendal, I was very excited at the prospect of seeing great bands, whilst also knowing I had a nice bed to climb into later.

Before I review Thursday I would just like to point out that the entrance organisation was a nightmare scenario that nearly had me turning back and going home. It was completely chaotic. Hence I missed my interview with James and the Blossoms. It actually took me four hours to gain entrance after I was sent round in circles by staff that had no idea of the layout.

That aside, I managed to catch the last few songs from the Blossoms on the main stage. I have often tipped these guys to be big in 2015. Tonight’s performance has strengthened my opinion. The final song ‘Blow’ is fantastic live. If you manage to see them out and about this year you will not be disappointed.  Check out the excellent ‘Blown Rose’ E.P and my interview with them here.

However Thursday was all about James. Right from the opening song ‘Sound’ the group delivered an awesome set, that for me, no one could beat. James have never sounded so good. And Tim Booth also showed his appreciation by going into the pit and standing on the crowd barrier, whilst the lucky few held him steady. An intimate moment shared by thousands. Tired and emotional I decided to make my way back to my hotel. Tomorrow’s going to be hard work!

Feeling less stressed, the drive on Friday only took 25 mins. After a quick look at the running order in the press area I decided to check the other stages. Today seemed much more organised with lots going on. The woodland are played host too many weird and wonderful acts. From the strangely robotic doll like drummer troupe to the mechanical horse, the woodlands offered non-stop entertainment for all ages. However it was night time when the woodlands really shone.

My first group of the day, The Augustines , delivered a slightly odd set. Somewhere between the second and third song something seemed wrong. It looked as though they were suffering from sound issues and opted to play acoustic. At one point singer Billy McCarthy just sat on the edge of the stage smoking and smiling at the audience. Very rock and roll.

The next group on my ‘to do’ list was also on the main stage. Soul II soul entered to a medley of well-known sounds from the late 80’s clubland era. And they still sounded fresh. The audience lapped up the classic sounds of  ’Back to Life’ and ‘Get a Life’ definitely a crowd pleaser.

Then it was off to the Tim Peaks Diner to watch The Blossoms do a second set. For anyone who doesn’t know the Tim peaks Diner is basically a log cabin that plays host to various band and doubles up as a coffee shop. However today it resembles a sauna. The band drew a massive crowd. In fact people where having to watch through the windows as it was impossible to squeeze any more in.

The Vaccines have played nearly every festival this year so far. However the set that they delivered seemed hit and miss with some of the audience, as the new songs that featured didn’t seem as popular. Luckily they made up for this with blistering versions of `If you Wanna’ and ‘Wetsuit’ towards the end of the set.

Saturday is Fancy dress day at Kendal. As I walked through the camping area to the main performance field I was passed by several musketeers and Superman. Yes, it’s going to be one of those days.

Tim Peaks Diner played host to the Membranes. John had mixed feelings about the festival when I talked to him pre-show. They had been billed as special surprise guests; however John was keen to let everyone know that they were performing. It was another full house as they took to the cramped stage. Robb is a very animated performer and it wasn’t long before he had stripped to the waist and was diving in and out of the crowd. The set drew heavily from their brilliant new album ‘Dark Matter’. For me it was the performance of the day.

Saturday closed with Manchester’s Elbow. Guy and Co delivered a beautiful set that had the crowd singing along throughout. ‘One Day Like’ this received the biggest cheer from an excited audience who sang pitch perfect and even harmonised with the help of their tutor Mr Garvey. It was such a fitting end to a fantastic day.

The Gramotones played the woodlands stage on Sunday. I have caught these guys before and they never fail to impress. The poncho wearing group powered their way through 4 years of songs in one of the tightest sets I have witnessed. It was the last time they would perform as the Gramotones.  A name change to ‘Cupids’ sees the boys embark on new adventures.

Sunday afternoon was about to change. Snoop Dog pulled the biggest crowd yet. Now I’m not a fan, however I couldn’t fault the performance. He managed to bring a little bit of the hood to a field in Kendal. The audience lapped it up. Half naked backing dancers and visuals that looked like a three year old had designed them made this a performance to remember.

The Kaiser Chiefs wrapped up Sunday. They delivered a perfect high energy set that sent the crowd wild.  After four nights of non-stop dancing the audience still had the energy to form a mini mosh pit and go wild.

And then it was over. This was the tenth year of Kendal Calling. It’s proved to be a highly successful event. Despite the hiccups of Thursday I thoroughly enjoyed my first festival. I’m looking forward to next year.

To find out more about Kendall Calling click here.

Words & pictures by Lawrence Taylor