Over the years I’ve tried to stretch the subject of my previews (2014, 2015) for this festival to the weird and wonderful intimacies in the far corners of the Lowther Deer Park site. This year, however, there’s no denying that the attention of the majority will be focused on a star-studded lineup at the top of each of Kendal Calling’s 4 nights.
Thursday sees Irish rockers Ash support The Charlatans, a regular to the festival and now part of the furniture almost literally at Tim Peaks Cafe. The cafe plays host to guest appearances from those at the festival including DJ sets, interviews and live performances. Tim Peaks, the project of Tim Burgess, is a hit year on year since its introduction to several festivals around the country. With record sales back to on the up there’s a chance to buy records and catch a word with the likes of a Burgess and who-knows-else. The Bowie Disco on Saturday and Prince Disco on Sunday will both be great celebrations in the cafe. The Charlatans set on Thursday will once more attract a lot of attention, with so many options available to bring together for an extensive set, they’re bound to get the 11th Kendal Calling festival off to a flyer.
Milburn have this year made a return after splitting in 2008, their cult following is justified when they reintroduce a sound not seen since the mid-2000s. They played a surprise gig on Friday night at the Leadmill in Sheffield with only hours notice. They begin a hat-trick that’s concluded by Catfish and The Bottlemen with We Are Scientists in between, the former seemingly unstoppable in 2016, releasing their second album The Ride earlier in the year. The headline slot on Friday night at the Calling Out stage belongs to Blossoms, another band growing and proving why they were so highly rated in the Manchester underground and support slots. They’re soon to release their debut album that’ll no doubt feature at Kendal Calling before heading out on tour in the autumn.
The House Party at Kendal Calling is my favourite room, this year it will see DJ sets from Blossoms and performances from the likes of Gold Teeth Beyoncé and The Everly Pregnant Brothers; definitely worth seeing along with everything from Britpop to the Breakfast Club 80s Disco. DJs from Xfm (now Radio X) will be there regularly and have sampled Madness before but this year the Main Stage on Saturday night will belong to Madness themselves. They’ve been tipped for the festival for a few years playing in the area and with a sound so influential and reminiscent their set may be a true Kendal Calling highlight. The incredibly entertaining Lancashire Hotpots are on during Saturday afternoon before Maximo Park return to Cumbria again. Peter Doherty of The Libertines and Babyshambles is over at Calling Out on Saturday evening sure to be popular with fans of both bands and the man himself, his poetical style will be new to the festival as a headliner and those who enjoyed Mike Skinner and The Streets back in 2009 might chance Doherty over Madness.
It’s those tough decisions that define a festival all-grown-up, from the adolescent stage of startling revellers with big names we’ve now matured to a stage where there are big acts, bands and artists at their peak scattered around the festival. Like a football manager with more than 11 players in form it brings difficult selection headaches. Similarly, Sunday evening will be many people’s Cup Final.
Noel Gallagher headlines Kendal Calling on Sunday 31st July, an icon that penned us Definitely Maybe in 1994 and has gone on to become and internationally recognised artist both with Oasis and during his current solo career. His performance will be surreal to those seeing him for the first time, but once the shock subsides a hand-picked selection of Oasis tracks and more recent songs from his 2 own albums are a real treat. For someone who’s been lucky enough to see Noel already, it promises to be an opportunity to further admire his longevity and talent as a musician. Earlier on Sunday afternoon, a heavier set from Band of Skulls will be one to note, while Sundara Karma and Spring King both aim to build on good foundations at Calling Out, Spring King have been heavily backed by radio play and have gained many fans over the past few months. If Madness’ two-tone is still ringing in your ears watch Dub Pistols on Sunday and their Specials-inspired work will help you dance out the final afternoon at the Main Stage. Also on Sunday are The Sherlocks, sure to bring a decent crowd with them as they carve their way into the indie scene after appearing in 2014
Each night the clash of the peaceful Woodland’s Stage and their silent disco with Glow and their dance sets will divide crowds, Shy FX return with Redlight on Friday night before Craig David’s bizarre return to popularity is on display on Saturday evening. There’s plenty to get your teeth into at Chai Wallah and Riot Jazz, too, while Jason Manford appears as a speicial guest on the Soapbox Comedy Stage – that’s Friday afternoon, truly highlighting the variety of entertainment on offer.
Do a sun dance this week, see you down the front on Thursday night.