Selkirk’s Frightened Rabbit and, in the headline slot, Glasgow’s Franz Ferdinand, along with Happy Mondays and British Sea Power, were among the main attractions last Thursday, paving the way for the finest double bill Wales has to offer this side of Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey, namely Stereophonics and Manic Street Preachers.
Both Welsh acts had the muddy main arena packed out for their headlining stints on the Friday and Saturday nights respectively, and both had most of the 25,000 punters present on site singing along to what were, for the most part, greatest-hits sets including, coincidentally enough, singles called Indian Summer, the former’s being a No 30 hit in 2013 and the latter’s a No 22 in 2007.
Both were also, needless to say, excellent, having long ago mastered the art of winning over crowds large, as in this case, and small.
Stereophonics, formed in Mid Glamorgan in 1992, have just announced the release of their 10th album, Scream Above the Sounds in November, and they gave two of the 11 tracks on its standard edition an airing in a 20-song set at Lowther Deer Park beginning with C’est la Vie and wrapping up with a rapturously-received run through Dakota.
Those two new songs, Caught by the Wind and All in One Night, didn’t sound at all out of place in a setlist also including hits such as Have a Nice Day, Just Looking and Maybe Tomorrow, plus a medley of AC/DC’s Highway to Hell, ZZ Top’s Gimme All Your Lovin’, Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark and Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll.
Manic Street Preachers, formed in Blackwood, Caerphilly, in 1986, haven’t got any new material to promote, but they did put out a 10th anniversary reissue of their eighth album, Send Away the Tigers, earlier this year, so they seized the chance to give that a bit of a plug by playing three songs from it – its title track, Your Love Alone is Not Enough and the aforesaid Indian Summer.
Their 19-song set kicked off with Motorcycle Emptiness and finished off with A Design Life, prompting what was possibly the heartiest singalong heard in these parts since Noel Gallagher finished off his Sunday night set last year with a rendition of the 1995 Oasis classic Don’t Look Back in Anger.
Other highlights of a storming set included the further three songs they played from their fourth album, 1996’s Everything Must Go – its title track, Kevin Carter and No Surface All Feeling.
Further Welshness was on offer earlier on the Saturday from another alternative rock act, Feeder, formed in Newport in 1992, albeit originally under different names, and their dozen-song set, including hits such as Buck Rogers and Just a Day, drew a sizeable crowd for a tea-time slot.
They were followed by Editors – special guests, coincidentally enough, on the Manics’ 2016 tour to mark the 20th anniversary of the release of Everything Must Go – and Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson playing the band’s 11th LP, 1966’s Pet Sounds, in its entirety, plus a handful of other hits afterwards.
Sunday also had more than its fair share of highlights, with appearances by festival favourites Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, US singer-songwriter Seasick Steve and London rapper Tinie Tempah being among the pick of the bunch.
For details of how to get tickets for next year’s festival, the 13th, go to www.kendalcalling.co.uk
Highlights of the weekend, including folk-rock act Frightened Rabbit’s 10-song set, can be seen at www.twitch.tv/kendalcallingfestival/videos/highlights
Festival director Andy Smith said: “We’re thrilled that once again we’ve been able to welcome some of the biggest, best and most beloved musicians in the world to Kendal Calling, alongside all the incredible new and local bands, artists, entertainers and producers who make the festival what it is.
“The Kendal Calling family are a hardy bunch who, as always, brought their amazing energy, humour and fun, and we’d like to thank everyone for joining us in the fields for a classic Kendal Calling.”