KENDAL CALLING FESTIVAL 2017 // LOWTHER DEER PARK, PENRITH

Franz Ferdinand, Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, Tinie Tempah and many more top the bill at muddy fields of the Cumbrian countryside festival last weekend

STEREOPHONICS CLOSING FRIDAY NIGHT AT KENDAL CALLING FESTIVAL - 28/07/2017
PICTURE BY: JODY HARTLEY

★★★★★

Kendal Calling returned this year for it's 12th annual festival weekend last weekend. Charmingly misnamed - it's set 30 miles from Kendal in Lowther Deer Park, a couple miles from Penrith, in the northern lakes near lake district. The annual event takes place over four days in spectacularly beautiful Cumbrian countryside. The festival has a lovely beautiful nature feel to it and has lot of natural attributes going for it, with leafy woodland mystery, rolling hills, lakes and has a walkable site and main stage which is set in a tree-fringed bowl which gives it feel of a shallow amphitheatre.

SUNSET BY THE LAKES AT KENDAL CALLING SITE
PICTURE BY: JODY HARTLEY

Day one of Kendal Festival 2017 arises, by lunchtime the entire place was already a mud bath, the greenery disappearing under very thick smudges of brown mud. Things will only get sludgier and sloppier as the weekend goes on, and a weather pattern emerges: heavy rain showers overnight and into mornings; sunshine in the afternoon and evenings. Further rain optional. The parade gets wet but will never ruin the spirits of the festival goers.

This year's bill was very cannily curated to appeal to parents and kids, groups of fortysomething clubbers, weekend hippies and roaming hordes of mostly northern teens happy for any excuse to let the steam off, using flares and because it's weekend before their exam results will drop through the doors which desire their destiny. 

With a dozen stages throughout the arena, they all have plenty of options to choose from. On Thursday, when the site only partially up and running, much of the action centres on the main stage only. Man & The Echo stormed opened on the main stage along with a politicised Devine Comedy which gave the festival goers a bit more muscle and touch of disco pizazz - which warmed up the site very nicely. By evening, Scottish rockers Frightened Rabbit appeared on the main stage, bearing scant resemblance to the raw trio which made the outstanding 'The Midnight Organ Fight' almost a decade ago. These days they sound a bit beefy and Americanised. Singer Scott Hutchinson even looks like a grizzled trucker and their overly slow early set never failed to spark.

FRIGHTENED RABBIT PLAYING MAIN STAGE AT KENDAL CALLING 2017 - 27/07/2017
PICTURE BY: JODY HARTLEY

Next up were Happy Mondays, lead singer Shaun Ryder was giving every appearance of learning the setlist on the spot, with their loping hoodlum racket which really got the festival going in the build up for Thursday night headliners 'Franz Ferdinand'. Happy Mondays looked very extraordinary with Bez (the maraca man) which appeared to come dressed for an Ealing Comedy caper which involved golf in the 1905s;  Ryder prowls on the stage with a designer hoodie like an aggrieved car park attendant, barking out non-sequiturs - "dontcha like Mars Bars, or what?" – while Rowetta gives off dominatrix vibes and brings the soul. Parents dance with their kids, mouthing the mucky words to "Bob’s Yer Uncle". this was very Kendal Calling.

HAPPY MONDAYS PLAYING MAIN STAGE AT KENDAL CALLING 2017 - 27/07/2017
PICTURE BY: JODY HARTLEY

They end with "Step On" and "24 Hour Party People", Bez bandying on stage with a gorilla wrapped around his neck, Ryder looking like he has an urgent appointment to keep. In contrast, tonight the always excellent Franz Ferdinand seem a little too straight-laced, like smart sixth-formers out-gunned at the school disco by their more streetwise rivals. Their oddly-paced set peaks a bit too early and peters to an end.

FRANZ FERDINAND HEADLINING MAIN STAGE AT KENDAL CALLING 2017 - 27/07/2017
PICTURE BY: JODY HARTLEY

Day two of Kendal Calling 2017 begins on the main stage, Kate Nash bounces on like a walking bag of Haribo. Her music is a pick and mix of styles, from the prowling, pissed-off concentric groove of "Dickhead" to a doo-wop ballad about her dog to her breakthrough, sub-Lily Allen hit, "Foundations". She ends up trying to hug the entire crowd, and it’s hard not to warm to her. Australia's DMAs are fronted by a sweet-voiced Tim Farron-lookalike, and their wistful, very tuneful pop goes down well as the evening falls, particularly "Delete" and "Lay Down". Circa Waves follow with generic indie rock of little discernible character. Attention wanders to an inflatable pink and black pig on a stick hovering above the crowd.

KATE NASH OPENING THE MAIN STAGE AT KENDAL CALLING 2017 - 28/07/2017
PICTURE BY: JODY HARTLEY

One problem with a relatively small festival like Kendal Calling is that, when the headlining act is a cross-generational crowd-puller, it can suck all the energy from the rest of the site. It happens with the Stereophonics on Friday night. The comedy tent decants, the glitter stalls fall pale and silent, and although Thingumabob and the Thingumajigs manage to keep feet moving in the Riot Jazz big-top, mostly everyone else is watching Kelly Jones and co, who are very decent if you like that kind of thing, and quite dull if you don't. They bring an emotional prickle to the chilling air with "The Boy in the Photograph", "Bartender and The Thief and "Dakota".

The band also played mash up cover from the likes of "AC/DC, ZZ Top, Black Sabbath, Bruce Springsteen and Led Zeppelin", which the crowd really enjoyed and engaged with. Kelly and Co also tried keep festival goers happy and hide the rain and mud with other hits such as 'Have A Nice Day' and 'Maybe Tomorrow'. Even though festival goers love to hear classic hits, the band also gave us a inside touch to their upcoming new album which is released later this year. Performing their brand new single 'All In One Night'.

STEREOPHONICS CLOSING FRIDAY NIGHT AT KENDAL CALLING 2017 - 28/07/2017
PICTURE BY: JODY HARTLEY

Day Three arrives at Kendal Calling 2017, Back at the main stage, hilariously, Brian Wilson isn’t even headlining. He’s playing second fiddle to the Manic Street Preachers, though it’s entirely probable he isn’t aware of the fact. Wearing the kind of anorak usually sold with coffee flasks and life insurance, and emitting a vague sense of confused trauma, he plays all of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds with his impeccable band, which includes Al Jardine, with interjections from his own less than impeccable voice. A good-natured crowd wills him on, and "Wouldn’t It Be Nice", "God Only Knows" and "I Know There’s an Answer" sound lovely rising into the trees, but it’s a rather antiseptic spectacle, and one wonders how much Wilson is getting out of it all.

BRIAN WILSON PERFORMING AT KENDAL CALLING ON THE MAIN STAGE - 29/07/2017

Kendal Calling comes to it's last day as Sunday arrives, Slaves who are having a brilliant career right now in music scene owned Sunday at Kendal Calling this year, their frill-free attack a shouty masterclass in pulverising power. If Kendal is a huggy kind of fest, Slaves offer a sonic slap in the face, which by now I'm ready for. Best main stage gig of the fest? Almost certainly.
 

SLAVES PERFORMING ON THE MAIN STAGE AT LAST DAY OF KENDAL CALLING 2017 - 30/07/2017
PICTURE BY: JODY HARTLEY

Instead of The Coral in a heaving Calling Out tent or Tinie Tempah on the main stage, for closure I choose the London African Gospel Choir performing Paul Simon’s Graceland on the Woodlands stage. The rain falls softly under Askham skies, as it has all weekend, while the music proves a balm to more frazzled souls than mine. It ends with fireworks. Kendal Calling deserves them, and by now, so do we.

TINIE TEMPAH CLOSING OFF KENDAL CALLING FESTIVAL 2017 ON THE MAIN STAGE - 30/07/2017
PICTURE BY: JODY HARTLEY

VIEW BEST OF HIGHLIGHTS IN PHOTOS HERE:

VIDEO COVERAGE IS STILL AVAILABLE FROM MAIN SETS ACROSS THE WEEKEND
HERE:

PHOTOS BY: JODY HARTLEY
REVIEW BY: THE MODERN RECORD

KENDAL CALLING FESTIVAL 2017 - CAMPING SITE AND ARENA FROM ABOVE
PICTURE BY: JODY HARTLEY

AFTER 12TH ANNUAL YEAR OF KENDAL CALLING, SELLING OUT IN MINUTES, THE 13TH EDITION OF THE FESTIVAL HAS BEEN CONFIRMED TO TAKE PLACE ON JULY 26-30, 2018.

PRE-SALE TICKETS WILL GO ON SALE AT 10AM ON TUESDAY 8TH AUGUST BY SIGNING UP FOR PRE-SALE EMAIL ALERT HERE:

GENERAL TICKETS WILL GO ON SALE AT 11AM ON TUESDAY 8TH AUGUST HERE: 

The Modern Record