5 August 2012

Kendal Calling 2012 - Review

Kendal Calling 2012

Kendal Calling 2012 - Review

Kendal Calling returned to Lowther Deer Park in the Lake District with an almighty vengance this year, and brought with it 10,000 very happy festival folk to party with it for the weekend. With it's increased populous, we saw the site bigger and better than ever, including a new tent, Chai Wallahs, new area called The Woodlands, were you could bop away at the silent disco, Tim Peaks diner, brain child of Tim Burgess, from The Charlatans, who created a place to chill, eat and listen to Edwin Collins and Nick Heyward perform an acoustic set, a real ale festival within a festival, including a very aptly named beer for myself, “Dizzy Blonde”, so many food stalls from around the world and a couple of fair ground rides, including the helter skelter, which we had to have a few goes on, more sculptures, including "Wooden Man", Iron Man's greener brother rocking out on his guitar and so many cartoon characters thanks to Saturday's fancy dress theme. I don't think I've ever seen so many Dennis the Menace's gathered in one place, definitely makes a change from Where’s Wally. The Beano Club, would be have been proud!!

Our festival began on the Thursday, courtesy of the early bird option, which I always love as it gives you a good chance to peruse the place, before mayhem ensues, and see the quirky acts, including fire act, GeoFest Collective, who bring it back to basics, with a hypnotic primal feel to their performances thanks to the drum and bongo players and the extremely talented fire artists who had their own area this year, just wish they hadn't been tucked out the way so much this year.

Anyway, back to the main reason we were there, the music, and what a line up it was this year. With Friday's headliners Maximo Park, who even though were missing drummer Tom English, who was celebrating the birth of his baby, congratulations by the way, still ripped up the place on Friday night with a full rock onslaught including firm favourites "Girls Who Play Guitars", "The Kids Are Sick Again" and "Our Velocity" as well as some new tracks from their latest album, "The National Health" which sounds like it's going to be as big a hit as the rest of their back catalogue, going by how well it received from the crowd. 

Saturday's main stage brought a little bit of everything for us music lovers with 90's indie band Dodgy playing a laid back set including "Staying Out The For The Summer" and new material from "Stand Upright In A Cool Place". Have to say I loved "Only a Heartbeat" which has a 70's Beatles sound to it. 

Up and coming star, Juan Zelada, played not one, but two sets back to back, one on the main stage and one in the brand new Chai Wallahs tent, and both sets went down an absolute storm, so much so, people left the main stage to catch him play again and I can understand why. With an eclectic mix of funk, blues, soul and a Jerry Lee Lewis style piano playing all rounded up with a fabulous vocal range, that can go from mellow and laid back to smokey blues you cannot help but be drawn into this high energy performance and find your ass shaking along to . You can see that Juan clearly loves what he is doing and thrives on crowd participation and the crowd definitely love him. I've got to say, this was one of the best performances of the whole weekend.
We then had a quick jogback to the main stage for Glasgow born and bred band The View, who do what they do best, get the crowd jumping and bouncing along, especially to the very much loved and very apt for a festival, "Same Jeans"

Headlining the main stage on Saturday, was the man who brought us the brain itch of a song, "Bonkers", yes that's right Dizzee Rascal, who put on one hell of show to end Saturday night, with a whole lot of instructions to "bounce" and "jump" coinciding with flares and fireworks going off, took us right back to the beginning and performed a wide array of his hits, which, I didn't realise, are hell of a lot, including, Jus a Rascal", "Road Rage"and "Dance Wiv Me". He also performed the Olympics song he wrote, "Scream" with the main bulk of the vocals performed by Dizzee's young protege "Pepper" whose vocals flowed over the crowd effortlessly. He ended his performance with, yep you guessed it that little brain itch ditty I mentioned before "Bonkers" and we can confirm that the vibrations felt throughout Lowther and the nearby towns was from the crowd bouncing as one for all their worth, not a mini earthquake!

Pretty soon Sunday was upon us and to be honest excited was not the word, not because it was the last day, but my favourite band in the world when I was 14/15 were headlining the main stage but I had a lot of great bands to while away the hours till then. So thank you to Manchester band, Twisted Wheel, who gave a rockin performance, even though the crowd were a bit subdued and pretty tired looking, but that didn’t stop a majority of them dancing and singing along while shouting “Wheeeaal” inbetween some of their best numbers, including, ”Strife”, “You Stole the Sun” and “Dirty Rock n Rolla”. At least they got away without being accosted by hundreds of Wheel fans who hijacked the stage the last time I saw them. You’ve got to love those Wheel fans.
Inspiral Carpets played a fab set, full of guitar riffs, big grins, Manchester accents and “This Is How It Feels To Be Lonely”. I have to admit I can’t really remember them sounding so rocky but it definitely works. This is one band from the 90’s Manchester music scene that have improved with age, both musically and vocally.
They were followed by Feeder, a band that can rock any stage anytime anywhere. From the opening number, “Am I Just Like You” and “Fight the Feeling”to their new material including “Tiny Minds” and new single “Idaho” (out this month) which is still full of heady drum beats and the grinding guitar riffs that they are synonymous with, but has a happy catchy note to it, that instantly grabs your attention.

And finally the band I’d been waiting for, with trumpets, Tim Booth’s mad dancing and the sound of “woooo hoooo hooo hoooooo hooooooo” it could only mean one thing, James have finally hit Kendal Callings main stage. Playing new and old material, including, “Born of Frustration”, “Waterfall” and “Johhny Yen” which he paid tribute to the “27 club”. Every song was met with enthusiasm, happiness, dancing and applause from the crowd. James are definitely a band who put everything into their performances and even though there was a break for a few years, they have come back bigger and better than ever before. Tim’s vocals are still as crystal clear and his enthusiasm for performing along with the rest of the band grips you and you get carried away, some of us on a reminiscent trip and others who may not have heard some of there material before. By the time it came to the final songs, James had the audience as one and then, the song that they are most famous for “Sit Down” started, which saw the crowd hugging, dancing and singing along for all they were worth. Some people even re-enacted the 90’s and actually sat down, mud be damned to them. Final song for the night though, was my all time favourite song, “Laid” and going by the crowds reaction it was theirs as well. I honestly cannot put into words just how great James were at Kendal Calling and they have definitely got to be the best band I have seen there to date, so go over to Kendal Calling web site and check out the recordings of them and all the other bands to see for yourself.

So that’s the end of another brilliant year at what has to be my favourite festival on the circuit, and yes that includes the godfather of festivals Glastonbury. There is something about this festival that just captures your heart and makes you want to return year after year. I’m just hoping that the expanding doesn’t go too far as I fear it may loose that quirky loveable feeling it has. The House Party, in my opinion, fell foul of that this year. Where had all the furniture and unique feel and atmosphere it created gone???, and that was my favourite places to go after hours  to party once the “difficult” job of listening to top music acts playing all day ended.

But once again many thanks to Kendal Calling for letting us be part of the festivities once again and I can’t wait to see what and who they’re going to get to top this year.

More Photos can be seen HERE


  1. Jane Oxley-Farringdon15 August 2012 at 11:38

    That's a fantastic event, reading it takes me back to when I worked at Kendal Calling last year. Since graduating and growing up, I've had to get a real job and I haven't been able to do the festival season this year! :(
    Kendal was by far my favourite festival last year, even more so than my maiden glastonbury experience. I still have the wristband on, should probably remove it soon...

  2. Jane,leave it on! I have mine on since 2010 lol