'I’ve been involved in tropical storms and I've never seen rain like last night!' said a taxi driver after the Friday rain that turned Kendal Calling into a bit of a mud bath. The wetness caused delay getting in and out of the arena, but thankfully it did not dampen the spirits.
After the excitement of getting everyone getting soaked, the first act to grace the ears were Atomic Hooligan. With several vocalists and electric beats, the crowd in the Big Top were certainly dancing, although this was more due to general excitement than the quality of the band. Their best reaction was when the DJ put on 'Born Slippy and they MCed over it.
A vibrant crowd greeted the arrival of Dizzee Rascal, who gave them exactly what they wanted - s set of his biggest tunes, including 'Jus A Rascal', 'Fix Up Look Sharp' and 'Stand Up Tall'. The people had come to see one of the country's biggest hopes - he delivered exactly what they wanted.
Saturday came in with some added glamour. French band Lava gave the relaxed Kayleid stage watchers summery acoustic-led ditties, including one about the joys of stripping while the sultry vocalist looked like she might do just that at any moment. At the Traffic stage, Tarentum offered up an alternative moody kind of electro. With two breathy female vocalists and various musicians, they were aiming for the Portishead/Massive Attack crowd and managed to get the tent dancing until a slow last track broke the mood a little.
A lot of excitement built in the Big Top stage for the appearance of Glasvegas, hyped as the next big thing by 'those in the know'. They arrived looking moody and dour and the performance didn't really deviate from that. 'Geraldine' and 'Daddy's Gone' got good reactions, but the constant battering of the rhythm section and rhythm guitar over-powered any intricacy on the lead guitar. Added to the lack of interaction with the crowd, this was a disappointing performance.
If it's entertainment you wanted, then Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip were the boys to go to. Mixing dance beats with super-fast rhymes, they worked the crowd into a frenzy. Covers of 'Cream' by Prince and 'Push The Button' by the Sugababes were hardly recognisable thanks to the pace. Pip's props include many hats, a periodic table and a bible for 'Thou Shalt Always Kill. This stood out from everything else...
...until the Kayleid stage played host to Frank Sidebottom. Wearing a sequinned gold jacket and accompanied by Little Frank, his keyboard covers had the tent singing and laughing. 'Hey Jude' and its alternative lyrics were a definite highlight and even the power cutting out didn't stop the crowd singing the songs back at him. Comedy gold.
The sun was out on Sunday and two-piece The Youth Gang (who look about 14) told tales of drinking and those they dislike until the female singer's voice cracked and they finished early. Meanwhile, a small crowd in the Big Top greeted The Shebeats, who banged out some generic indie-punk, the highlight being new track 'Glitterball'. Down at Traffic, Alphabeat offered African-influenced dance with prominent bongos.
After dancing like mad to Clint Boon in the cake tent while eating a chocolate orange sponge (don't ask), the Kayleid called. Acoustic-led three-piece The Wild Wood Band were on stage telling great stories about living in Barrow-In-Furness. Examples include: 'My Neighbour Is A Scumbag' (an attack on so-called chavs) and 'I Only Wanted A Cigarette', which was introduced as "here's a sensitive one, it's about being raped!" They began a stage invasion on the last song and left to a huge ovation.
A packed Traffic tent awaited DJ Yoda and he hit the room with more tracks in an hour than you would have thought possible - everything from dance, rock, hip hop and TV themes had their place. The fact he concluded after an hour with the theme from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air said it all, really.
The Big Top's final headliners were British Sea Power. Their homecoming set delivered on all fronts, with words sung back at the happy band with true glee. The highlights were probably 'No Lucifer' with its "easy, easy" chant and mass singalong 'Waving Flags'. BSP finished with a classic rock out, bringing this excellent festival to a fantastic end.