The wholly independent Kendal Calling, which was celebrating its tenth anniversary, was held over the long weekend of Thursday 30th July to Sunday 2nd August 2015 at the Lowther Deer Park, near Penrith, in the Lake District.

I had decided to travel up to the festival on Thursday, and left mid-afternoon to give myself plenty of time to pick up my press accreditation, find a nice, quiet spot to pitch my tent and make my way into the main arena in time for the onset of what potentially would be an excellent weekend festival.

Over the four nights there were what really amounted to five headline acts on the main stage, James on Thursday, the Vaccines on Friday, Elbow on Saturday, Snoop Dogg (who was not top of the bill, but could easily have been) and the Kaiser Chiefs on Sunday.

This was possibly one of the best festival line-ups of the summer. With extra stages than before, improved children's features, outdoor theatre, and comedy stages, real ale tents and food to cater for every taste, it seemed that no stone had been left unturned in order to make what has already been an award-winning festival an even bigger and better event for its special birthday.

Upon joining the queue on the top road for the entrance to the main gate, little did I realise this was going to be a long wait. As the first hour passed, I made it off the main road onto the Lowther Deer Park grounds and as far as the back of a queue of cars on a one track road ahead of us. Two hours in with a parade of cars in front of me as far as the eye could see, I was not moving. Three hours on the highway to hell, and I was on personal terms with the sheep in the fields, so much so that I had given most of them names. Finally after just over four hours I parked up, resigned to the fact that I had missed most of the opening acts on the first night’s bill.

With my tent pitched, I grabbed my accreditation and my photo bib from the press tent and said a quick hello to some of my fellow togs, before we almost immediately heard the announcement of "Right, people, all those wishing to photograph James on the main stage, we are on our way over now”! Well, I had made it for the headline act at least.

After fifteen minutes in the pit covering James, all the stresses of what had become a six hour commute from home disappeared instantly, and I felt my weekend had begun. Tim Booth was at his enigmatic best. James had headlined the festival in the past, and it is a safe bet to say that most people there had decided to make them an act not to miss as the crowd was vast.

On Friday morning, the main topic of conversation amongst festival-goers was the chaos of getting in the previous day. Apparently 20.000 people had arrived and caught the organisers out. The official capacity for the weekend, which had been sold out for a number of months, was 25,000.

One of the joys of covering a festival for me is finding out what is on offer. It’s not all about the main stage. There is no doubt at Kendal Calling that at the main stage and the Calling Out tent the more recognisable or established artists dominate. The thrill of the unknown comes with finding new up-and-coming artists. These stages also offer up more of a possibility to actually chat with the bands, something that is pretty much impossible on the main stages.

On the main stage we had James, the Vaccines, Elbow, Snoop Dogg, the Kaiser Chiefs, the Levellers, Nick Mulvey, Ella Eyre, Temples, the Super Furry Animals, Billy Bragg, Hudson Taylor, Soul II Soul, the Augustines and Lucy Rose.

This year the headline acts offered a different structure each day. On Friday we were offered the Vaccines. For many who had never seen them live, they provided both a surprise package and a set full of passion, which they delivered with an assurance that comes from a band at the top of their game.

On Saturday Elbow held court, and for many, with the irreplaceable Guy Garvey conducting proceedings in his own unique way, they were the best act of the weekend. As festival headliners go, Elbow fit the bill totally. Garvey seems to have a knack of making you feel as if he is only singing to you. He even had time to play with an oversized football, much to the crowd's delight. The sight and sound of a packed main area singing each and every line of 'One Day Like This' is a memory that will last with me for a very long time.

Of course, we had rain. It was a festival. We had to have rain. This didn’t put anyone off on Saturday. Yes, it brought the mud, but most people came prepared with boots, rain macs and hats.

The weather had perked up by Sunday. As the weekend activities were drawing to a close, you could have been forgiven for thinking that things would take a more relaxed pace, but there was an air of expectation, a buzz that was slowly building. After all, we still had the prospect of two headline acts to finish off what had been an excellent weekend,

On a quick reflection of what had been on offer over the weekend, the main stage held court to many many excellent acts. Soul II Soul brought a breath of fresh air and some soul classics that had the crowd singing along. The Augustines rightly commanded the main stage as did Temples. Nick Mulvey gave a performance that gained him a lot of new fans, myself included.

It was not only main stage that kept the crowds entertained. Seafret, Laura Doggett, the Bohichas, Turbowolf, Feed the Kid, JJ Rosa, Blossoms, Alex Hulme and the Bear Around Your Neck are all artists that I feel will be making waves, and rightly deserve a mention.

By the time Embrace took to the stage on Sunday evening the atmosphere was becoming electric, and they did not disappoint. A set littered with classics brought out the best out of the crowd.

Next up was the legend that is Snoop Dogg. The security lockdown around the pit and backstage area was unprecedented. It would have been easier to have walked the Queen through the centre of the park than it was to get in and out of the pit.

Snoop delivered a set that entertained the crowd and was littered with old classics. Who knew the “hood” had come to the deer park? As quickly as Snoop had rolled in, he rolled out, and a sense of normality returned in the press area.

The last act of the weekend the Kaiser Chiefs took to the stage. From the outset, it was clear Ricky Wilson was sending us home with a bang! Twenty seconds into the second song, he jumped straight off the stage and into the crowd. As the curtain came down on my last couple of pictures from the pit, we were ushered out.

Ricky thanked us and waved us goodbye, then turning to the crowd he told them, “Now we have said goodbye to the photographers, there is nothing between you and me.”

As a photographer I fell in love with a band and the performer. It was a befitting way to bring to a close a most memorable weekend.

Kendal Calling, I salute you.

My memories of this birthday party will last longer than the mud-scarred pathways that will fade over the coming weeks.


Photos by Billy Seagrave
http;//www.seagravesocialphotography.com

















Related Links:

http://www.kendalcalling.co.uk/
https://twitter.com/kendalcalling
https://www.facebook.com/kendalcalling


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