KENDAL CALLING - FESTIVAL REVIEW - 30TH JULY - 1ST AUGUST 2010

FRIDAY
Drummer, rapper hip-hop duo Chiddy Bang bring their rapid fire lyrical finesse and sampling repertoire to the main stage. Involving the crowd throughout their set the Pennsylvanian band play to their strengths with a freestyle rap using suggested words from the audience proving that Chiddy Bang have the skills to pay the bills with roars of approval from everyone. Although the song “Never” is a highlight, Chiddy Bang don't really have the panache and showmanship of Dizzee Rascal or the street cred of the respected rapper Jay-Z to really make an impact, but a fun half-hour was had by everyone throughout.

You'd be forgiven for assuming that Stereo MCs had disappeared off the face of the earth with the leisurely breaks between albums, but fear not they are still very much with us and despite not attracting the biggest crowd of the night they are a force to be reckoned with. Rob B still resembles a wiry Dickensian vagabond, but his ability to work a crowd is unbelievable. With 2 stunning backing singers and synth player with Rob on guitar, it’s a wonderful hybrid of soul, hip hop and rock. Connected and Step It Up are rightly regarded as classics, but with a new album on the way finally there are plenty of new songs to savour and enjoy. Amongst these gems is No Substitute which is rocking, at bass thumping electro mania with vocoder magic. Rob tries his hardest to enthuse with his mystical power, but the crowd aren’t responding properly to a band who deserve more respect, but nothing could poison the joy of Stereo MCs who having been together for night on quarter of a century still play with passion every time.

DJ, collaborator with Dizzee Rascal, songwriter for Kylie, producer and chart topping popstar Calvin Harris is it also a top draw live act and festival favourite, making his debut to Kendal Calling as the headliner. With two albums under his belt it’s a shame he's only on for an hour but it's a spectacular show with strobes, singalongs, great party atmosphere and top tunes. Calvin is a showman par excellence and with his band and backing singer prove dance music can work brilliantly in a live environment. Designer magazine loves the way Calvin throws himself fully into the spotlight, chiefly inserting Kendal goes into the hit Girls having the confidence to rework his breakthrough song Acceptable in the 80s, dancing around with the crowd hanging on his every word. Commercial, poppy without taking themselves to seriously Calvin really pulls out all the stops especially during Ready For The Weekend, a rave anthem with a soulful edge. Not even a brief power cut can spoil the fun despite not returning for an encore.

SATURDAY
Orphan boy open up the Calling Out stage and originally from Grimbsy, but based in Manchester. The 3 piece have stripped down sound with an impassion performance with bluesy harmonica and a strong punk rock sound. A real discovery, and band well worth checking out. The tracks from the 2nd album display a real progression from the earlier material.

Recommended 4 piece New York Tourists from Blackburn won the competition at Moho Live in Manchester to open up on the main stage on Saturday. With all four members dressed in black, this well rehearsed band play above average indie rock and their fans, of which there are plenty, have come out to see them in droves. Relishing the opportunity playing a major festival with glee, New York Tourist’s wear their influences on their sleeves. There’s a distinct sprinkling of The Courteeners on Getting Out Of Here which is no bad thing, and Kill The Messenger is obviously indebted to the Arctic Monkeys. At this early stage it’s understandable, but with more experience and confidence New York Tourist’s will have their own sound.


Morecambe isn’t the most rock 'n' roll place to form a band, but it isn't far to travel from Kendall for the Heartbreaks, the Smithsonian four piece with great haircuts and even better shirts. A skinny frontman with a touch of Elvis Costello is confident without being too cocky and the harmonising with his bandmates is thrilling. Why Do You Always Make Me Cry has a rockabilly feel while Jealous Don't You Know has single written all over it. No wonder The Heartbreak have supported the likes of Jack Penate, The View and Darwin Dees as they fully deserve an opportunity to shine to a wider audience.

Quirky, cool, Americans OkGo receive an incredible reaction from a predominantly fancy dress crowd, more of which later. OkGo can be funky 1 minute, then recall Weezer in their prime the next with layers of synths and heavy riffs like on recent single White Knuckles. Obviously delighted at seeing people dressed up as Smurfs, storm troopers and super heroes, OkGo invite them on stage for a dance making a really fun atmosphere for bands and fans alike. This gives the song Here It Comes Again a really surreal visual vibe, once in a lifetime experience easily eclipsing the wacky video dance routines. On stage horseplay aside, OkGo really put on a good show and are one of the many highlights of the festival. Get over it is a blast from the past, a reminder of their early appeal. Who can complain when a band play such an entertaining set for 45 minutes and it’s still only early afternoon on a Saturday, a reminder of the diversity and eclectic music Kendal Calling has an offer

The Calling our stage may only be a relatively intimate setting, but Exit Calm play there as if it was a massive stadium which is perfect for their epic sound. Their music is really intense with guitars worthy of early Verve with a front man with great charisma and a voice you’ll never forget. Exit Calm add strobe lighting to create an intense atmosphere and impress and delight in equal measures.


Designer Magazine were really looking forward to seeing Doves headline on main stage, but they were a major disappointment. Watching them go through the motions with very little conviction and put on a lacklustre performance is hard to watch from a band who can do so much better. They’re also very self-indulgent in not playing the festival crowd pleasing set from the recent Best Of album and relying too heavily on material from their last studio album. It doesn't help matters that the sound quality is poor and the crowd aren’t really going for it. Winter Hill and Kingdom of Rust suffer from a bored looking Jimi Goodwin, although he shows real emotion during the poignant Cedar Room, which shows off his soulful voice and melancholy emotion. It's only really during the encore, the band coming to their own and play with vigour and passion everybody is so used to. The carnival atmosphere Their Goes The Fear works even better at festival and finishing with the happy hard-core track Happy For Your Love puts you mind of their Sub Sub days, but it's too little too late when on previous occasions, Doves have played to a much higher standard.

SUNDAY

Kid British are unofficial ambassadors for disaffected youth wrapped up in ska, reggae, rap and glorious pop. Seven strong collective from Manchester chronicle lives ups and downs in the same way as Mike Skinner does with The Street with humour and honesty and inventive music. The band sample Madness Our House with a rap about life in modern Britain without ever sounding preachy or pious. It's a party on stage with every one of the audience invited and there’s irony aplenty during the poppy Sunny Days just as the heavens open, which continues (the irony, not the rain) during the 60s feel of the World Cup single winner which despite English poor performance is a Motown styled song with Mark Ronson feel which is good.

I think the lead singer of the King Blues would be more happier on the Soapbox stage than on the main stage with his political views, sound as they are, but they are more interesting to listen to the music It’s your typical ska infused rock, which is passable but nothing special. Their hearts in the right place though, Designer Magazine enjoy the passion and punk attitude of Lets Hang The Landlord. The King blues get the crowd skanking and have a great attitude. With everybody joining in on self explanatory “Headbutt“. Subtlety isn’t their strongest virtue as I Wanna Set The World On Fire to musical rampage on the Tory government.


Everyone's favourite Boltonian, wooly hatted singer-songwriter and the most laid back, relaxed musician ever, Badly Drawn Boy dedicated his set to the sadly departed Frank Sidebottom, aka Chris Sievey. What you see is what you get with BDB, just a music with no visual stimuli whatsoever. The bearded one known to his parents as plain old Damon Gough begins with the simply gorgeous The Shining armed with just his trusty acoustic guitar. A sweet and tender moment is when his young daughter Edith plays keyboards and duets with Badly Drawn Boy on The Time of Times. Various musicians come and go throughout the set although the new single Its Electric is a little underwhelming. He finishes on Born in the UK, an English take, but sardonic answer to Springsteen.


Best band of the festival by far are The Subways. Frontman Billy Lunn is topless and tattooed, displaying a taut torso and a boundless energy which is shared equally amongst his bandmates. If there’s a more festival friendly than the Subways then design magazine’s yet to witness them. Favourites like Kalifornia and Oh Yeah are belted out with aplomb, rocking out on the spectacular style. New song I Wanna Dance With You is another effortlessly breezy pop rock song The Subways do with such ease. There are some sweet girly vocals from pin up bass player Charlotte. Their enthusiasm is infectious and the crowd can't get enough of them. It’s an invitation to the crowd is really go crazy when Billy strums the opening riff to Rock 'n' Roll Queen when he climbs on the speakers and jumps into the awaiting fans who carry him along in a crowd surfing frenzy among the moshing sea of bodies. Roll on album number three.

These New Puritan’s are causing quite a stir in the music press with critical acclaim and have quite a cult following so it’s no surprise the amount of people rammed into The Calling Out stage to see them. They are 20 mins late coming on, but as the lights dim expectation is very high. If experimental, atmospheric, synth heavy art rock if your thing then These New Puritans will probably be the band for you. With a front man not unlike Ian Curtis, 1000 yard stare and an ice cold intensity it’s certainly effective and a tad eerie. For some an acquired taste, for others cutting edge. Designer Magazine found the whole experience a little cold and clinical, humourless and even a little bit pretentious. That said it’s impressive to see a band doing their own thing and having the courage of their convictions. The percussion, arrangements and alto sax are hypnotic and strangely disquieting, but we applaud innovation.


The Coral
are an unusual choice to close the festival as their laid-back 60s inspired gentle music while excellent and welcome is at odds with the get the crowd excited frenzy a headlining act should achieve. Perhaps the organiser wanted a calming influence at the end of the festival so no one goes too crazy and over the top that a more raucous act would bring. New album Butterfly House has been lauded as outstanding, but resisting the urge to be self-indulgent jamming, The Coral just get on with a selection of well chosen songs. The Coral must be one of the most underrated bands who have quietly released over six albums in just under 10 years since. Their simplicity is their strength, James Kelly has a soothing and calming voice, but very expressive and emotive. More than a lover has picture perfect harmonising and gorgeous Hammond organ with a 60s whimsical feeling. Recent single Waiting For 1000 Years is the sound of a band yet to reach the peak with so much look forward to in the future. The Coral are a modest bunch of lads who just let the music speak itself and with a back catalogue that includes Pass It On this can only be a good thing which is played tonight, reminding people why they fell in love with Nicole in the first place.

A quiet but good end to a great festival

Words: Nicholas Paul Godkin
Live Pics: Rich Sherwood
Crowd Shot: Daniel Pratley

 

 

 




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