REVIEW: Kendal Calling 2016

Noel Gallagher. Picture by Scott Salt.
Noel Gallagher. Picture by Scott Salt.
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Eleven years ago Kendal Calling started a revolution from its bed.

That revolution burst to life when Noel Gallagher brought the four day festival to an epic close on Sunday night.
More than 23,000 people basked in the glorious sunshine as Kendal Calling 2016 celebrated its 11th anniversary.

The Sunday night finale crowd. Picture by Scott Salt.

The Sunday night finale crowd. Picture by Scott Salt.

This once small but unique festival at Lowther Deer Park attracted global stars - with Noel Gallagher, Rudimental, Madness and The Charlatans headlining this year.

It didn't take long for the green fields near Penrith to turn to their traditional brown as welly-wearing festival-goers went in search for the 15 stages, beer and food (possibly even sun cream).

Thursday, the quietest and coldest day welcomed The Charlatans to the main stage. Chai Wallah was the only other alternative tent open in the arena on Thursday night. Unfortunately as I am not a Charlatans fan (sorry) much of my Thursday was spent getting to grips with the tent, the portable toilets, having a go on the fairground rides and finding vintage bargains in the Oxfam stall (my festival wardrobe saviour).

Indie rock band Catfish And The Bottlemen and Rudimental were the main "biggies" I wanted to see on Friday.

Flares lit up the crowd during Rudimental's set and I particular enjoyed "Bloodstream", "Lay It All On Me" and of course "Waiting All Night". A surprising mixture of all ages danced to the award-winning band.

However Friday night wasn't over. Far more exciting things were waiting in the nooks and crannies of the midnight hour. Riot Jazz Brass Band.

The Manchester band deserve a special mention, if you have not heard of them before please Google them now.

I discovered the group at last year's Kendal Calling Festival and this year they were even better. I was one of the lucky one's at the front soaking up the raw brass and bass and fist-pumping action.

The lads controversial relationship with the crowd did not please the security as MC Chunky poured Captain Morgans rum into the mouth's of the front row, passing the microphone as he went.

But their telling off did not stir the lads as they exclaimed "this is what we do, we trust our fans" - so the trombone beat continued into the night.

If you stand back from the charts, disengage from what may be trending on iTunes you can witness pure instrumental talent at its finest. I expect great things to come from Riot Jazz.

If you wanted to get into the Tim Peaks diner tent at any point in the night you couldn't, unless you arrived early.

The Charlatans' Tim Burgess was running his pop-up coffee shop Tim Peaks at the festival to a squished crowd. The secret set from The Libertines man Peter Doherty at the diner also surprised fans.

Another popular attraction was the silent disco in The Woodlands. I missed out last year because the queue for the headphones was just too long and sadly it happened again. However walking through the quiet yet colourful woods was enough of a spectacle as dancing headphones lit up the forest.

On Saturday the sun shined brilliantly for local band, The Lancashire Hotpots.

The crowd loved the quirkiness and it was great to see dads in particular rocking out to their own dedicated song. Another local singer was Carnforth girl Molly Warburton who performed in The Woodlands. Saturday also had a nostalgic feel in the air as The Darkness appeared on the main stage.

I was holding out for "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," and it was everything I imagined, cheesy clapping fun. However The Darkness should have took up Kelis's time slot, 5pm did seem too early for the rockers as Kelis did disappoint.

The slow start did not go well with some of the crowd as most were waiting for her biggest hit 'Milkshake' which she quickly went through. It did pick up again as she sang "Bounce," the crowd's energy returned - just in time too as Madness took over not long after.

"Baggy Trousers", "Our House", "It Must Be Love", "House Of Fun," got everyone abandoning their camping chairs and dancing to the ska beat. Craig David's TS5 DJ set in the Glow Tent was another winner for me and a great way to finish a mixture of all musical types for Saturday.

Sunday was another warm day and had its ups and downs.

I was embarrassed to see a smaller crowd turn out for Southampton rock band, Band of Skulls but perhaps everyone dispersed after the popular hip hop group Sugarhill Gang got the crowd going. A down side to Sunday was a set at the Soapbox comedy tent. One thing I do not wish to see ever again is American comedian Russel Hicks.

His gig was toe-curling cringe. One heckler asked if he was getting paid for the gig and another said he would pay him "a £1 to f*** off."

It left me wanting to press the escape button repeatedly on the keyboard. He tried his best to fill the time and some did warm to him in the end - perhaps because they were waiting for funny man Mickey P Kerr, who I felt saved the Soapbox's reputation.

Of course I need to mention Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds Sunday night finale. What an experience! The former Oasis star performed in front of a packed out crowd - reviving the War of the Roses banter as he joked about Yorkshire Day.

He said: "It's for Yorkshire Day? You've got your own day? Get to f***."

Oasis hits were plentiful during the set and brought me back to the days of searching through my dad's vinyl's. My favourites being "Wonderwall," "Don't Look Back in Anger," "Champagne Supernova" and Noel's "What A Life."

Fireworks set off and the wave of euphoria slowly dwindled as people went in search for other tents to end their festival. For me I could't possible dance anymore. I was satisfied finishing earlier than normal, feeling exhausted but happy.

The festival caters for everyone and it is great to see families with small children joining in the fun. Kendal Calling allows upcoming musicians to show off their talents on a big platform, it allows artists to interact with people they would not normally get to, it allows youngsters and adults of all personalities to come together in the name of music.

Organisers say this year's festival was a success and the drug problem was minor compared to last. Police made 19 arrests at the festival but have praised the vast majority of festival-goers for enjoying the event safely and responsibly

It's impossible to mention everything that went on at the festival as there was plenty to choose from.

Organisation was better this year in terms of getting to and from the arena. Hats off to the organisers for an incredible four days. It's good to hear Kendal Calling will return in 2017 - you were eventful, fantastic and memorable, here's to the next one.