The first thing you notice when arriving at Lowther Deer Park in the Lake District for the seventeeth Kendal Calling is that there is a LOT of hills. That being said, given that this particular writer could do with shifting a few pounds, that could be seen as no bad thing.
So, set up and ready to rock, our Friday kicks off in sombre mood with The Murder Capital arriving on stage to the sounds of “Black Boys on Moped” by the late Sinead O’Connor. It’s a moving tribute from the band and one that probably explains the sombre mood of their set. Elsewhere the brilliantly bonkers Bandaoke are joined by a stream of fans as the party mood for the rest of the weekend is set.
Spice Girl Melanie C races out onto the stage to a huge crowd all hoping to hear a few Spice Girls hits alongside her own solo material. Of course “Sporty Spice” doesn’t disappoint and alongside solo material like “Northern Star”, some of her group’s biggest hits get a dusting off. If you thought the energy levels at that point had peaked then Example made sure that wasn’t the case. Bouncing out from the wings, thousands of fans bounced with him in one of the friendliest moshpits I’ve ever seen. By this point nobody cared about the rubbish weather.
Heading into the final part of the day, Wigan band The Lathums were exactly the kind of band this crowd needed. A quality set of tunes from the Wiganers, it felt like a completely different band to the one I witnessed a year or so earlier. This time, it was all jokes with the crowd, and a set of banging tunes like “The Great Escape”. Our first day at Kendal Calling was nearly over so, while DJ legend Annie Mac was packing out the Parklands stage, Brighton indie heavyweights Kasabian sent the Kendal crowd partying into the night. Frontman Serge Pizzorno has now made the position his own as he races about the stage while the band step back out of the limelight as he whips up the crowd with hits like “Underdog”.
After a night of partying around the site, it would be fair to expect Saturday’s crowd to be subdued but Manchester indie legends Happy Monday’s made sure that wasn’t the case. Having said that, looking at the crowd that greeted Bez, Shaun and Co, the Monday’s were the perfect way to kick off the day. Speaking of perfect ways to spend your Saturday, Irish group The Mary Wallopers are a band who have been on our radar for a while and they didn’t disappoint. They may act the fools on stage but their Irish humour and folk/punk tunes were exactly what your ears needed to hear on a Saturday afternoon.
Lottery Winners were another band who delivered the goods and the sight of frontman Thom Rylance goofing about as he led the crowd through a Queen style sing-and-return was one that raised more than a few laughs. Highlight of our Saturday next as the always brilliant KT Tunstall rocked the stage like she always does. “Who cares about a bit of rain?” she joked and, just like that, the rain stopped. Rocking the crowd with tracks like “Other Side of the World” and hit single “Suddenly I See”, KT Tunstall is the kind of act we could sit and watch all day long.
During Kiefer Sutherland’s packed out set in the Parklands Stage, the heavens finally opened which made us thankful that we were in the company of such a perfect host as the Hollywood superstar. Away from the TV shows and big screen movies, Sutherland’s time on stage is a wonderful mix of stories and Americana and is a welcome way to stay out of the rain. Thankfully the rain subsided for the legendary Rick Astley who could have easily headlined this festival with a set packed with 90s pop hits like “Together Forever” and “Never Gonna Give You Up” alongside a smattering of fun covers including “Highway To Hell”.
And so our first ever Kendal Calling draws to a close. A quick scan of the weather forecast shows that rain is forecast for the entire but, thankfully, the aforementioned rain does not appear until the very end of the day meaning that, as we arrive on site, the sound of the Lancashire Hotpots singing songs about “Chippy Teas” (it’s an English thing) puts a huge grin on our faces. Next up is rapper Professor Green who is simple sublime. Having been off the scene for a little while, his return is a welcome one judging by the reaction and we’d even go as far as asking who needs Eminem when we’ve got the Professor?
Next up on the main stage was Australian actress/songwriter Natalie Imbruglia who brings the sunshine with her along with a stack of hit singles including “Big Mistake” and the one that started it all “Torn”. Following that, Yorkshire band Reverend and the Makers bring some Yorkshire grit and humour to the Lakes while over in the Parklands Tent, the quite brilliant singer/songwriter Alice Merton lived up to expectations set by one of the V13 team with her energetic pop anthems.
Heading into the final hours of Kendal Calling, the reported terrible weather had held off. With the Summer Of Love theme seeing thousands of fans donning 60s hippie outfits and plenty of colour, there were smiles all around Kendal Calling as a chilled vibe filling the air. Even as the rain threatened to derail the final day of partying, Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs took to the stage and rattled through a hit-packed set including “Ruby” and “I Predict A Riot”.
At that point with the rain coming in, we skipped final headliner Brighton duo Royal Blood who we’re in no doubt flattened the field and signed off a wet, cold but ultimately quite wonderful Kendal Calling.
Kendal Calling 2024 takes places from August 2nd to August 4th 2024 and you can pre-order your tickets here.