Review: Kendal Calling 2016

The festival that refuses not to improve presented another ‘best ever’ last weekend, and like I mentioned beforehand, you really don’t know where to start with the sheer amount of entertainment available throughout the weekend. From Ash and The Charlatans on Thursday night to Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds closing Kendal Calling you really can’t fault the desire to improve year on year, for that might I begin by congratulating Andy, Ben and their team for their 11th successful year.
The Charlatans are a band that similarly refuse to become insignificant, encouraged by Tim Burgess and his escapades in writing and coffee they’ve almost attracted an entire new fanbase and it must be humbling when so many people turn out for them even before Friday morning. Young and old fans seem to be drawn to Burgess’ tones and tracks from their latest album seem as popular as those from back when his blonde bombshell look was probably not in the pipeline. He sways across the main stage to Then and latterly Sproston Green that has so long been the signal the beginning of the end, but in this case was just the end of the beginning.


The following day was paradise for indie lovers, This is England’s Thomas Turgoose (little Shaun that’s now grown a bit) played tune after tune in a packed Tim Peak’s Diner (sauna), from Happy Monday to Primal Scream and of course The Courteeners, I couldn’t keep them out, could I?The mighty Milburn were on the main stage on Friday afternoon, rolling back the years and rolling out the barrel and the fans came. Joe Carnall and his boys sound like they’ve never been away and pictures of them outside Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios are the stigma of so much excitement. Catfish and The Bottlemen followed, lead man Van McCann is tireless that’s for certain and with inflatable crocodiles galore in reference to their latest record The Ride, they pleased a huge late afternoon crowd as the sun continued to shine. They’ve grown on the back of the alternative rock revival and are making a real effort of it, singing largely of sex they seem to be able to have the teenage demographic round their little fingers. The Calling Out stage was the venue for Blossom’s headline slot, and again full capacity they introduced themselves to more fans. They released their debut album on Friday (5th) and to headline on this scale and attract that crowd was impressive by any standards. The highlight; My Favourite Room into Babybird’s You’re Gorgeous and then Half The World Away, timed to perfection and illustrative of their talent and flexibility as a band. Their DJ set in the House Party showing slightly less talent, if the music didn’t turn off it skipped a track and despite the sterling efforts of resident DJs they couldn’t stop the band giggling their way through before they headed to Tim Peaks for Britpoporama identifying their transformation from largely unknown revellers in 42s in Manchester to festival celebrities at Kendal Calling.


Saturday culminated in an interesting conflict between Madness on the Main Stage and Peter Doherty at Calling Out, fans had plenty of entertainment at both before it was time to make their decision. Regulars The Lancashire Hotpots sang not of sex, much, but of Chippy Tea’s and kitchen sink tales from Lancashire. If you watched them from the hill (now more famous than the one at Wimbledon) you’d have a good laugh, if you’re down the front you’re among a Hotpots cult that every year turn up to sing their hearts out to songs from Achtung Gravy and A Hard Day’s Pint. Justin Hawkins and The Darkness also featured at the Main Stage either side of Maximo Park and The Hives, the former with irresistible trilby hats and the latter with only partly resistable black and white suits. The white, despite the sun, wouldn’t have stayed white for much longer on the campsite. Post-decision time, Madness played Our House, Baggy Trousers and One Step Beyond. Their unique style and heart-shaped confetti seemed to stop the festival in time and celebrate everything about festival spirit, because there’s nothing more Kendal Calling than It Must Be Love on the same playlist as Craig David.  Peter said Fuck Forever and sang The Libertines’ Time For Heroes and it was left to the Baggy Monday’s and their indie disco to soundtrack agreeing to disagree which headliner was the best.


Festival final mornings are hard going, they’re turbulent emotionally and full of so many lasts, this weekend however was about to end in a first for many. Like having a cracking night out and finding out you spent less than you thought, Noel Gallagher and his genius was making its way to the Lake District. Campsite speakers were blaring not much but him and Oasis. Sheffield band The Sherlocks started the day at the crack of dawn (11am), before The Sugarhill Gang presented rap nostalgia in the fields. The least publicised highlight might be Band of Skulls, their raunchy and gritty rock and female bassist brought a different dimension to the weekend. With 4 albums to their name there’s plently to look back on and may I suggest they feature on your list of bands to listen to, along with Spring King who featured at Calling Out.

An Indian summer for the main stage, it felt like the entire capacity were transfixed as Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds entered the stage, his character now more nonchalant but influence no less colossal. Everybody’s On The Run and Lock All The Doors began proceedings, Fade Away was the first step back in time coming in at fifth and was magnificent. You Know We Can’t Go Back is one of the best tracks of the new Noel era from his second solo album, Champagne Supernova one of his best ever. One of the best songs ever, too. The Ballad of The Mighty I makes sure the Gallagher ego remains in tact. Half The World Away was up next and remains the soundtrack for all northern family living rooms, idle Sunday dinner chit chat and Jim Royle having 50 pence of his underwear stuck up his arse. Listen Up and If I Had A Gun… both resonate around the natural amphitheatre, The Masterplan tops it, though. Say it loud and sing it proud today. Of course Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger go down in Kendal Calling history as one of the greatest ever moments, remembering right back to Blondie, or that incredible James performance of 2013, Johnny Marr and of course Snoop Dogg, all seem now eclipsed by the fact Noel Gallagher has not only been but blown away the festival.

There isn’t a more fitting way to end this than the moment that ended the festival. At 3am on Monday morning, resident DJ Karl Yates took a moment to introduce his final song. Festival spirit is about life, from dancing in the early hours to sharing a crate of lager with your next door neighbour, from picking each other off the floor to embracing during a band’s set, with this in mind Karl Yates said these words; “I think you all know why I’m playing this one, see you next year.” He made a heart with his two fingers and thumbs, the Calling Out crowd followed as Viola Beach’s Swings and Waterslides brought the curtain down on Kendal Calling 2016.

Take a moment yourself, here.

Here’s to the festival that’s won’t stop getting better, and as it looks forward to its 12th year, be involved with limited tickets on sale on from 9am Tuesday at 2015 and 2016’s price here.

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