Review: Kendal Calling 2018 fills a Glastonbury-shaped hole

In a year where the festival calendar has a rather large Glastonbury-shaped hole it is a relief to know Kendal Calling can bring a little of that Worthy Farm spirit to the summer.

Set in the beautiful grounds of Cumbria’s Lowther Deer Park, Kendall Calling –which took place for the 13th time this summer – has become one which music fans can guarantee to deliver year after year.

With 11 stages explore, it’s fair to say that Kendal Calling still has indie at heart, but it puts in a good effort catering for different genres – particularly with its late night club entertainment.

Kendal Calling still has indie at heart, but it puts in a good effort catering for different genres

Kendall Calling - Find Me in the Field Magazine

The M6 was something of an ordeal to overcome in sweltering sunshine on Kendal Calling 2018’s opening day but that was all forgotten on site. The addition of a lineup – an extra bonus in recent years – aimed to get everyone dancing with Craig Charles, who brought his funk and soul show to the main stage.

We also got to enjoy the spirit of Madchester when the Hacienda Classical treated Lowther Deer Park to a bangin’ array of 80s and 90s Manchester rave classics. The set highlight came when New Order’s legendary bassist Peter Hook joined the orchestra for a reworked rendition of Blue Monday.

The set highlight came when New Order’s legendary bassist Peter Hook joined the orchestra for a reworked rendition of Blue Monday

It was quite obvious that former Joy Division man Hook thrived on doing something different with a song that helped create a whole new movement of music in the UK.

Afterwards, as is tradition, the Chai Wallah tent was the best place to conclude the first night at Kendal Calling.

Come Friday, the campsite was brimming with tents for another sold out event up in Cumbria. Despite rain being forecast, the site was showered only by the sun’s rays as we got to explore all the wonderfully picturesque setting that Kendal Calling had to offer. The enchanted woodlands – as ever – was the place to visit with its silent disco being a must-end to the night.

Kendall Calling - Find Me in the Field Magazine

But well ahead of Friday night’s frivolities the daytime delivered some wonderful moments courtesy of Felix Hagan and The Family, Marmozets, Tom Grennan, Catfish & The Bottlemen and James.

Kendall Calling - Find Me in the Field Magazine

The latter, a big favourite of the festival, treated their adoring crowd to mix of old and new – a difficult task when you consider they are now on album 15.

The rendition of rarely-played indie anthem Sit Down was something many savoured.  After Catfish and The Bottlemen’s main stage headline performance, a party in the woods was then calling.

Each year, Saturdays at Kendal see the grounds taken over with a sea of fancy dress and the 2018 edition was no exception. Embracing the sci-fi Back to Kendal theme there were plenty of Doc Browns, extravagant aliens and Star Wars characters at every turn.

If you are wondering, yours truly went with a Blade Runner-inspired costume, which came across a little camp and colourful rather than dark and edgy.

One of the hidden gems of this year’s Kendal Calling had to be the dystopian futuristic club that was waiting to be discovered in the woods. Many enjoyed a little moonwalk there ahead of Bugzy Malone, Shed Seven and Plan B on the main stage.

Kendall Calling - Find Me in the Field Magazine

Plan B, by name and nature, stepped in last minute to replace Run DMC, who had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts. Plan B deputised well but the proceedings did miss that top level headline act that Saturday nights at festivals demand. There was also a slightly embarrassing moment where the sound was cut, presumably because Plan B went over curfew.

Come Sunday morning, Lowther Deer Park was a bit of a muddy mess in places but that didn’t bother regulars, as Kendal Calling traditionally gets at least one day of rain. Everyone just embraced it.

Kendall Calling - Find Me in the Field Magazine

By the afternoon, the skies started to clear and the crowds were able to enjoy the music, the festival’s family entertainment, fairground area, comedy tent and many bars of all shapes and sizes.

Fans of The Libertines were treated to two sets from the indie royalty. Firstly, they made a surprise appearance at Tim Peaks Diner – Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess’ regular Kendal Calling coffee shop turned disco, which made for a sweaty affair.

Then Doherty and Barât brought the curtain down on another memorable Kendal Calling with a set that spanned their three albums.

Kendal Calling 2019 will take place between July 25 and 28 2019. For ticket details visit kendalcalling.co.uk.

Words by Craig Jones