Live Review: Kendal Calling NYE

Kendal Calling NYE Party

31st December 2018, Victoria Warehouse, Manchester.

Words: Elena Katrina

Photos: Gary Lambert

With a line up as strong as Everything Everything, Tom Grennan, The Blinders and Felix Hagan and The Family, Kendal Calling’s party was the only one I wanted to be at on New Year’s Eve, and I don’t really even care for NYE. A line up that perfectly reflected a mix of exactly what the festival pull together each and every summer. Only this time, set in the cold dark walls of a huge warehouse, otherwise known as the Victoria Warehouse (though why it’s called that when the building clearly has another name outside, I’ll never really know), in Salford. I will admit that when I walked in I was a bit surprised to see that the warehouse, very much, still looked just like it always does – bare. Where were the Kendal Calling vibes? I guess that was left to the bands and DJs to bring – and thankfully, they did! It was 5 to midnight and our whole group still didn’t feel like it was New Year’s eve – the crowd also wasn’t sure on the memo…. some just there in usual gig attire, others, like me, dressed up in as many sequins as they could have in one outfit.

Felix Hagan and The Family admittedly aren’t my kind of band but they did a stellar job in getting the people there ready for a party! Fun and feather bowers were the order of the day – even if I did have more glitter than all the singers combined.


The Blinders came on-stage to the theme from Charlie and Chocolate Factory. A perfect theme for NYE really, a Christmas classic movie, but it’s still psychedelic and dark undertones which soon became something altogether different. A speech about social-political issues – giving us something to think about for the last day of the year as we prepared to make our resolutions for change in 2019.

Their music, whilst angry and impassioned, also makes me want to stick a rose between my teeth grab the nearest man and hope he can dance a furious tango. It also makes me feel like they need to score the next Tarantino movie because they have such a ferocious snarl to them. Plus it doesn’t half hurt that at times the guitar has hints of a classic western score to it.

I love the way The Blinders‘ songs always change in terms of tempo because it never really does in terms of texture. It brings something more to them than your average rock n roll band. They’re also a thrill to watch live, pulsating sounds and visuals as no space of the body and floor are left untouched.

I love that Kendal Calling decided to bring the darkness to NYE- while we all sit back and reflect on having filled our bellies and look forward to the salads and no booze January, we shouldn’t forget that there are things we should be fighting for and taking action on.

The DJS from Howling Rhythm delivered a treat between bands too – knowing the bands they managed to blend sounds that were perfectly matched. Also, there will never be a time I’m not happy to hear a DJ play Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Ever. The night was flying by with their help and already it was time to welcome the next musical guest.

Tom Grennan walks on stage and a million phones come up in the air. The 7th word he says is “fucking” –  so right away we know where we stand! He is in a mood to give it some and some he does, kicking off with Royal Highness. His band tonight is back to basics. I admit I like this, I do like all the backing singers etc at his headline tours, but it’s right to save it for those times. I was probably one of only a handful of people who even noticed they weren’t there anyway – such was the frenzy of support. Tom stormed his way through a blistering set of what can only be described as future greatest hits! Found What I’ve Been Looking For, Praying, Aboard Barbed Wire and all the big tunes from one of the best selling debut albums in an age.

It’s not just the music but the personality that comes with it that brings a Tom Grennan set to life, he knows just to get his crowd to get involved, to sing along, he knows when those quiet moments are coming and how to encourage a little emotional connection, no matter the size of venue. A total contrast to what came before, and indeed after.

Having a dance around and checking out the new competition in sequin dresses I became excited for Eveything Everything, especially when I couldn’t work out how long it had been since I last saw them. Too long ago, is what I wagered. Everything Everything are a pretty magical band, they have an eclectic mix of sounds and a really interesting lyrics and phrasing to their music. Cough Cough being a perfect exaple of this while still giving us ample time to shimmy those shoulders (and thus bringing our sequins to life). They pulled out the bag fan favourites such as Regret,  Kemosabe and Spring/Sun/Winter/Dread – a chorus of which includes “I don’t want to get older” that bounced off of the warehouse walls as the crowd all willing themselves both to stay young and yet still thrive in 2019, what a quandry!  Ending their with my personal favourite (and the song that finally got our Gary Lambert into Everything Everything); No Reptile. The half an hour count down clock appeared on the screen… it was all almost over. We waved and cheered goodbye to Everything Everything and prepared to welcome in a whole new year.

The Kendal Calling confetti cannons blasted and covered the crowd as the clock chimed midnight. Finally the Kendal Calling razzle dazzle had arrived and I’d survived another year. The crowd spend the rest of the night  dancing the night away to the best of Britpop (though I left before they played The Charlatans – I mean, they MUST have played it). All I can say is, that if KC do this again this year, then I’m there – with even more sequins on.

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  • About Popped Music

    Popped Music has been going since Feb 2010.

    All articles written by Elena Katrina unless otherwise stated.

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