A hard rain was going to fall, but 2018’s Kendal Calling was anything but a washout

Catfish and the Bottlemen frontman Van McCann at Kendal Calling. Photo: Scott Salt/Kendal Calling.
Catfish and the Bottlemen frontman Van McCann at Kendal Calling. Photo: Scott Salt/Kendal Calling.

Some main-stage acts on the Saturday or Sunday of the four-day event might have been disconcerted to look out at the field in front of them at Lowther Deer Park and see it only sparsely filled by bedraggled and sodden-looking fans, but for each time that happened, there was a more obscure band playing somewhere more sheltered, such as the relocated Calling Out tent, being cheered to see a much larger crowd than anticipated.

Libertines singer Peter Doherty on stage. Photo: Scott Salt/Kendal Calling.

Libertines singer Peter Doherty on stage. Photo: Scott Salt/Kendal Calling.

Some of the latter, such as the splendid Cruel World at Sunday lunchtime, acknowledged the role of the elements in securing them an unexpectedly large turnout, but others remained amusingly oblivious.

It wasn’t all mud, sweat and tears at this year’s festival by any means, however, as it enjoyed the tail end of the longest heatwave the UK has seen since the 1960s until well into its third day.

Rain falling overnight on Saturday and incessantly through into Sunday afternoon turned hitherto-sun-baked thoroughfares into quagmires, prompting hundreds or possibly even low thousands of people to head for home, but those fairweather fans might well now be kicking themselves as the weather cleared up midway through Sunday.

Had they stayed, and the vast majority of those present did, they would have got to see a fine closing set, complete with firework display, by reunited alternative rock veterans the Libertines, following on from an acoustic set in the Tim Peaks cafe earlier that same day.

James frontman Tim Booth greets fans. Photo: Jody Hartley/Kendal Calling.

James frontman Tim Booth greets fans. Photo: Jody Hartley/Kendal Calling.

They also missed out on the third of three second-on-the-bill sets offering the best singalong opportunities of the festival, Ocean Colour Scene being the band in question that time round.

Their predecessors on Friday and Saturday respectively were James and Shed Seven, the former daring not only to utter the phrase second most dreaded by festival goers – here’s a new one for you – but to follow it up no fewer than three times with the most-dreaded phrase – here’s another new song – and getting away with it.

James, Thursday night headliners at 2015’s Kendal Calling, were second on the bill to Catfish and the Bottlemen, last seen in these parts playing an afternoon slot in 2016.

The band, also featured in 2014’s line-up, have come on leaps and bounds since then, however, and didn’t appear at all daunted to be topping the bill.

Plan B on stage. Photo: Jody Hartley/Kendal Calling.

Plan B on stage. Photo: Jody Hartley/Kendal Calling.

The Welsh quartet, formed in Llandudno in 2007, have hit the top 10 with both their LPs to date, The Balcony making it to No 10 in 2014 and The Ride topping the album chart two years later, so it will have been no surprise to them that much of the younger contingent of the crowd were able to demonstrate that they knew many of their songs word for word.

The other headliners at this year’s festival, the 13th altogether and the 10th at its current home, the previous three having been held at Kendal, were Hacienda Classical last Thursday and Plan B on Saturday.

Also playing were Peter Hook and the Light, Bugzy Malone, Lady Leshurr, the Wailers, the Sherlocks, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, White Lies, Slow Readers’ Club, Hollie Cook, Sam Fender and Declan McKenna.

Plan B, alias Ben Drew, was a last-minute replacement for US hip-hop act Run DMC after they pulled out because of a scheduling mix-up, leaving all this year’s T-shirts and programmes looking wide of the mark.

Booked to appeal to those in their twenties, the Londoner, like Catfish and the Bottlemen, is also as good an example as any of how the festival manages year after year to get its demographic pitch right, offering something for festival fans of all ages.

This year’s line-up might not have been quite as strong as last year’s, for example, that being a particularly hard act to follow, thanks to the presence of the likes of the Stereophonics and Manic Street Preachers, but it made sure to cater for all the family, as ever, from youngsters through to grandparents.

A generous helping of rainfall later on might, contrary to the usual cliche, have succeeded in dampening the spirits of some, but it never even came close to rendering this year’s festival a washout, there just being far too much going on, both on stage and off, for there ever to be any danger of that.

Tickets for next year’s Kendal Calling have been put on sale already, though the first batch have already been snapped up. More will follow soon, however. For further details, go to www.kendalcalling.co.uk