January 11th, 2009

This year on Dalliance More

2008 Review

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Here at Dalliance we like to wait until the end of the year before reviewing it and we like to review it in an ad-hoc set of lists so for you, Dear Reader, we have albums of the year which is a general summary of what we have been listening to, tracks of the year which is more about the sort of thing we have been listening to while hanging around West Yorkshire at local gigs and gigs of the year which take in Bradford, Manchester, New York and Halifax.

Enjoy and thank you, kindly thank you, for reading.

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, January 11th, 2009

November 7th, 2008

The Raconteur, the sleep, the scratches on Will Sheff’s guitar and my Okkervil River Song More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, November 7th, 2008

Okkervil River at Academy 3, Manchester

The stage of Manchester's Academy 3 is too small for Okkervil River.

For sure the six Americans fill the stage - a couple of them make up for the brawn lost in the slighter members - and for sure the multi-instrumental nature that sees guys playing keyboard them swapping to guitar and girls playing anything with strings on it adds clutter but this band are barely able to be contained by such small surroundings.

Okkervil River's singer/songwriter Will Sheff - resplendent in cheap funeral suit and a shocked mop of dark hair picked out against the stage lights - has the kind of charisma that one finds in a Morrissey or a Michael Stipe.

Will Sheff of Okkervil River

Sheff kicks his band into Plus Ones with the same faltering, ethereal way Stipe had around the time of R.E.M.'s fifth release Document. Comparisons are justified but the band's effort - Pop Lie - suggests they have been noted as does second effort of the night Singer/Songwriter.

Honesty is all here - The liar who lies in his song/And you're lying when you sing along - and Sheff exudes it.

The band's weight of back catalogue inspires devotees and so the songs familiar to most - new release The Stand Ins is their fifth - but are imbued with a freshness from phrasing and playfulness that rebirths every one.

Sheff has the air of practised raconteur telling a new story for the first time. Breathlessly, almost struggling to keep order of his thought as they spill into his songs, he brings a relevance and significance to his performance that fills every word, every line, with life.

No Key, No Plan - a hidden gem on Black Sheep Boy Appendix - which is rattled through with exuberance to the refrain Truly, I don’t think you'll find a happier man giving way to the jaw dropping moment of this gig. The stand out moment of any gig for this reviewer.

A Stone is stripped down to a three piece lament which in turn breaks down to Sheff himself, on stage, cast against white back light finishing off first with guitar and then just a voice. I think that I know the bitter dismay of a lover who brought/fresh brouquets every day/when she turned him away/to remember some knave/who once gave/just one rose [silence, pause] one day [silence, pause] and it was years ago

The sound could have been a pin dropping. A heart breaking. A million gigs colliding together into a single moment of perfection.

Then you see the bulbous eyes that Sheff casts over the room pushed out and puffed from crying too many tears. You see the scratches on Sheff's guitar where the pick has dragged on the upstroke in frantisism, in the need to play these songs right now, in the fact that he, that Okkervil River, really mean it.

They mean the intelligence as well as the emotion. They mean the smart and the heart. These are the things that make them exceptional.

That tattered acoustic guitar of Sheff is thrashed through an anthemic version of For Real and a mesmerised audience are wrapped and as requested clap in speedy time, then slower during Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe which for many gigs should be, would be the highlight.

Not tonight though. Tonight Okkervil River are a many facetted band. Lost Coastlines' banjo beginning and second singing by bassist Patrick Pestorius hits as close to perfection as any band gets

John Allen Smith Sails's Sloop John B close is the most exciting thing you've ever seen as it unfurls before you. In Starry Stairs they are playful cutting down sound to allow tape recording of Shannon Wilsey's voice haunting the room. No bookend with Savannah Smiles is the closest to a criticism I can manage.

Okkervil River on stage

Too quickly the night starts to end. They leave returning for a mellow, heartfelt, touching Girl In Port that seals the evening breathing in the life, the understanding, the reason why people still play live after the intention of the phonograph. Sheff bleeds the lines I'm a weak and lonely sort/but I'm not sailing just for sport/.../these several year out on the sea/left me empty cold and grey/pour yourself into me.

They close with their Okkervil River Song. They could be anything this band - and a new lexicon is needed to describe how good they were tonight - but they will never be so on the cusp again.

Commercially, creatively, critically anything is possible with wells of song writing and performance this deep.

Okkervil River are the stand out live act of this decade. Wow.

Written By Michael Wood Friday, November 7th, 2008

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October 19th, 2008

The Magic is Obscured at Camera Obscura More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, October 19th, 2008

Camera Obscura at The Faversham, Leeds

Some performances are enthralling. They excite you and leave you breathless as a band bring surprises and come to life in a way that one does not expect. They take the 2D grooves and pits of the record and become sparklingly 3D. It breaks my heart that Camera Obscura are not one of those bands.

They filter onto the stage to start the set with Come Back Margaret and everything is a factor more fuzzed up than on any of the albums which have seen this Scots band carve out an appreciated niche in the world of the cynically twee.

The lack of pop polish lends a rawness that suits Tears for Affairs but on other tunes it sits uncomfortably with a lack of presence on stage. They are cramped onto a stage without filling it. They are lost voices which should be working into every nook and cranny of The Faversham.

They play new tracks which sound very much like the previous material but unlike - for example - the excited life given to New Directions by Jens Lekman these will sound better from CD in a few months time than they do tonight.

They fail to communicate the emotions that go behind songs like Lloyd, I'm Ready To Be Heartbroken or Razzle Dazzle Rose like a playwright who needs word to be read by actors but are warmly applauded for their efforts - they put all they can into performance - and but one cannot help but be left with the feeling that those efforts will produce magic in the studio that is not there tonight.

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, October 19th, 2008

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October 4th, 2008

Dalliance in the Doghouse with The Voluntary Butler Scheme More

Doghouse Live Review

Written By Ria Wilkinson Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Ophelia, Modeliste and The Voluntary Butler Scheme Doghouse at The Royal Oak, Halifax

Dalliance was in the Doghouse. It was a chilly Friday night too. What crime or misdemeanour had been committed? None, for this was a treat. A treat that wheedled Dalliance out of it's cosy Bradford home to venture forth over yonder hill to the Doghouse in Halifax.

The Doghouse is a night hosted in the intimate setting of an upstairs room of The Royal Oak drinkery. However, don't go thinking you can turn up on the dot of an 8.30pm doors and be expected to be let in, instead they encourage you out into the night to seek entertainment whilst they set up in apparent privacy.

As it was, it was nearly 9.30pm by the time first act Ophelia took to the stage which was crowded with all manner of ibooks/ipads/iMacs, mysterious boxed stuffed with wires, and even a small screen onto which a Clara Bow film was projected.

Ophelia are a two piece act that really should have never bothered leaving their bedrooms. The music of Ophelia is third rate Angelo Badelamenti-esque, soundscapes over which undeterminable lyrics are affectedly murmured as Clara Bow frolics on screen in order to grasp any of the attention rapidly dissipating from the audience. By the third track of music to accompany pretentious art house movie sex scenes, we know there are no surprises from this "create music by numbers with my ibook" outfit.

The audience thins out and the half hour Ophelia play feels like forever. Tellingly, the greatest volume of applause comes when it becomes apparent it was their final track. They shuffle off stage and we hope that the next band on are something a bit different or else we'll have to brave again the locals' karaoke in a nearby pub until the top act of the night is on.

Happily, and likely all the better received for it, the middle act are an actual instrument playing group named Modeliste. A local three piece of percussion and two guitars - what else do you need? - they opened up with pacy "Misinterpreted" and soon the audience attention was recaptured and there was involuntary bobbing along to the beat. This promising start was further built on with another couple of tracks before the Hendrix/Chili Pepper influenced "Bop Good" swung things round to a 70s feel. Fronted by Ben (who looks like an escaped Sanderson from Le Tournoi) on bass, "Wyld Thing" Ross on waccachacca guitar and completed by another Ben doing the prerequisite "vaguely dark and mysterious drummer" (I cite fourteen corners and the [now defunct] Letters as further evidence...) that is a local band motif, they powered through another four songs ending with another slick slice of 70s "Hot Love".

Modeliste were a real refreshment of the senses post Ophelia, and it was appreciated the way their melodies broke rhythm so that there were different flavours in each track. And whilst soft rock guitar noodling and "Shaft" reminiscent "waccachacca" noises may not be original, it's what you do with it that counts by referencing them well. Modeliste were well positioned to lift and energise the crowd and they really made the most of it and we look forward to catching them again.

Top act of the night that persuaded Dalliance not to climb into it's fleecy pyjamas but instead into the car, was the excellent Voluntary Butler Scheme. Previously seen as a support to the Brakes' Eamon Hamilton at the Faversham in Leeds earlier this year, we were quickly converted to the charm, uniqueness and downright skill employed by one man act, Rob Jones.

Using a series of layered looping pedals and variety of different instruments that would make any music teacher proud, Jones produced quirky, original and beguiling tunes about love and life. Dalliance was delighted to have the chance to see him again after tracking his quite prolific output of new material released via his MySpace site.

Tonight was not merely a rerun of the previous gig but actually the first gig of Rob playing with his two new compadres. He has recruited a percussionist and another multifunctional friend to tackle various instruments - apologies for not catching their names to credit them accordingly.

Credit they indeed deserve though! Rob mentioned that he was tired of assembling both instrumentage and tuneage and explaining to bemused audiences the nature of his act‘s name. When taking into account the complexity of assembling his music as one man then deconstructing it to make it fit for three whilst building it up more, it really was quite an achievement. In total they played eleven songs. Some newer like opener "Multiplayer", some more downbeat like "Country Lanes to Motorways", a short fun thing like "Dancing with Ted Danson" and some familiar favourites such as "Alarm Clock". The audience had a significant proportion of pre-converts and they lapped up, as did Dalliance, each tune rapturously. None more so then towards the end of the set when recent single (and BBC 6Music favourite) "Trading Things In" was released into the room. It was interesting to hear a fuller arrangement of the tune and one of the new recruits did a sterling job on the trumpet, rewarded well with whoops from the audience.

The Volentary Butler Service live in Halifax

Whilst their set didn't run entirely smooth, suffering from technical problems, and new recruits dashing about slightly unsure of what instrument to grab next, it felt very organic. The audience warmly supported the band and the relief and smiles of the new line up spoke volumes, that despite it being a bit unpolished, they had most certainly ridden the wave of their first gig together triumphantly! So much so that they were strongly encouraged to perform an encore and despite their protestations that they had no further practised material, they did oblige by playing their opener again. And the audience loved them all the more for their shy reluctance and honesty.

With the recent success of the not too dissimilar sounding Noah & The Whale, as well as strong support from such forces in music as Steve Lamacq, hopefully it's only a matter of time that an album is released and The Voluntary Butler Service are rewarded with the fans they deserve. But please don't let them get too popular, for it's these tiny venues that Rob and new sidekicks really shine.

Written By Ria Wilkinson Saturday, October 4th, 2008

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September 3rd, 2008

Kendal Calling More

Kendal Calling Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Andy Whittaker, Owter Zeds, Atomic Hooligan, Dizzee Rascal, Seven Seals, Serious Sam Barrett, Becky Taylor and Paul Cowham, Maupa, Flamboyant Bella, Chris Helme, Lava, The Wierd String Band, The Witch and Robot, Brandon Steep, Eamon Hamilton, John Byrne, The Bookhouse Boys, O Fracas, EMF and British Sea Power Kendal Calling at Grate Farm, Kendal

I've put off this moment, dear reader, for some years now.

This is Kendal Calling 2008 and it is the first festival - which is to say field based more than one day event - of my thirty four years.

I've avoided them previously initially because of work and then because of football but always because of an image that became fast in my head of the atmosphere of one of these events.

I imagined cliques of people in tie-dye. I imagined drunk sixth formers on a kind of weekend long third Thursday in August. I imagined people eating tofu burgers and talking about the environmental cost of hot dogs being offset by the fact they drove a hybrid car. Probably called Christian. I imagined people with glow sticks called Phillip or Juniper. I did not think much of it.

I imagined that these people would turn up to an event like this not to see whichever bands were on but more just for the outing. It was relive your student days weekend - I surmised - and I cared for that not.

Nevertheless there I was - persuaded by the girlfriend - and so the night fell hard and rain came down with the mountains of the Lake District on one side and the open fields of Grate Farm on the other. I wore Wellington Boots and a rain coat. Me. At a festival.

Late too. Traffic had us arrived past time and the thick mud that were the fields was rapidly becoming arduous navigation on the legs. Wandering into the main field to get our bearings of the site, our ears discover the electronic and dance tent, “Traffic“, care of Andy Whittaker who was studiously spinning disks in the dry ice and darkness for the dance heads.

Dance heads we are not ,so up field we travelled to discover Hebden Bridge’s Owter Zeds kicking out some ska, reggae and the like into the folksier, more relaxed, “Kaylied” (adj. A high state of inebriation. F.Y.I) tent which was also full of people hopping about in appreciation.
Watford duo Atomic Hooligan are on by the time we persist through the rain to find the “Main stage” (sadly lacking an alternative name, perhaps Big Top would have worked due to it‘s red and yellow stripes). Their spirited fusion of electro, hip hop and breaks fill the main tent with energy which is well received, supporting their Best Live Act 2008 accolade at this years International Breaks awards. I am struck by how into the music these festival goers seem to be. I am taken aback, I am surprised. They lap up the sound of the Atomic Hooligan which will segue smoothly into the UKs premier grime artist and also this week, responsible for the UKs Number One selling single. They await the headline act of the evening and tonight that act is Dizzee Rascal.

They chant his name, this Dizzee Rascal. They chant.

I try to recall the last time I saw the UK's number one act live. I never have but I will soon with this London MC - oh yes I at least am familiar with the terms - occupying the once hallowed slot for four weeks now.

Dylan - as his mother probably calls him - works the audience as well as just about anyone can aided and abetted with an equally enthusiastic foil in his relentless rapping. The audience is mostly collected of white middle class studenty types and there is a line or vicarious living going on as the black guys ring about East London grime and crime whilst stood in the fresh air and sedate open fields of Cumbria.

This is no cultural cringe though and perhaps Dizzee is grime for the Kendal kid. The set is popular as he cherry picks from his material including Fix Up, Look Sharp, Jus’ A Rascal, and others that keep the crowd moving and participating and in the song Jezebel - sadly not a 10,000 Maniacs cover - it feel he really has something to say. After more than an hour (in which even the casual Radio 1 listener would probably recognise about seven tracks), the crowd were rewarded with the finale of the chart topping Dance Wit Me which was truncated by merging it with David Bowie’s Let’s Dance before Dizzee and friends exited the stage to negotiate the mud in their pristine white trainers - probably by a lit.

His DJ makes much out of the fact that despite rumours of a last minute pull out, he did not miss the show - never missed one yet he says (take that! Amy Winehouses and Pete Dohertys of the world…)- and with the increasing volumes of mud, you have to give him credit for risking his white trainers in a place so far removed from his natural habitat.

Piling out, back into the rain and mud, we find an island of grass located by the “Club COG” stage - a more “indie” tent sponsored by once Kendal based Check Out Gigs crew. Advantage is taken of the island and we stop to watch a few tracks of Kendalian five piece Seven Seals - including double A single Black Drop and Cake (Guiding Hand) - who are entertaining enough playing the kind of eighties twinge indie that no one ever listened to in the eighties but is getting popular now. However weariness, early starts, traffic jams take a effect and I'm heading back towards bed through mud the likes of which I've never known.

Next day and the rain has come down in sheets over night. What was mud is now just liquid which makes almost canals instead roads between areas on what is a promisingly sunny second day.

The day for us kicks off in the mellow Kaylied tent with Leeds bluegrass man Serious Man Barrett who is ten minutes into his mix of obscure American folk, skiffle classics and self penned songs that fit into this cannon. His version of Lonnie Donnigan’s Gambling Man is a favourite and is a great start to the day and his ability to captivate is never stronger than during a traditional song from Skipton about a girl running away in disguise as a man to join the Navy.

Barrett's folk style celebrates the wide world of music if draws from - honest, personal tunes - and his own work adds to this. Stella is about his guitar, White Rose a paean to Yorkshire. He plays with an open heart and wins other.

Irish folk fun Becky Taylor and Paul Cowham follow with Uilleann (or Irish) pipes and guitar respectively. Led by Becky, they course through various reels, jigs and some more melancholy tunes, many of which she confesses she doesn’t remember the names of. Cosy and merry in the tent though it is, we have heard enough towards the end their set and so move on before the cider sets in and we take root on the precious patch of grass at the side.

Maupa are more par for the course offering the poppy end of post rock combined with probably a bit too much Editors inside the emptier Main stage. The four stage guitars in the Accrington sextet create a full and rich sound lauded by the NME amongst others but for me they lack something to move them over the morass of bands in their class.

Flamboyant Bella in a packed Club COG tent are in the same class as Los Camposinos sharing the shrill tweeness of the Welsh nine piece. They are in love with couplet writing and deliver them in a little too mockney a way via Flo Kirton’s and James McBreen’s vocals (reminiscent of Kate Nash and The Lodger’s Ben Siddal - if he was southern) but to be honest to Northerners, all of the South sounds like that and they are indeed from Hitchin.

Bella mine an idea that eighties music saw Duran Duran and The Smith side by side and that The Cure and Culture Club were somehow interchangeable which was never the case however that kind of fusion results in fine, synth lead tunes. Single Touch is such a track with bizarre Casio keyboard sounds meeting bedroom poetry.

Next a treat.

Unexpectedly, Chris Helme - one time man of The Seahorses and The Yards - plays an acoustic set in the Main stage to fill a set time that The Long Blondes were now unavailable for. He plays a heartfelt couple of songs alone on stage with his guitar and it‘s not until he ventures Hello and with some resignation Blinded By The Sun from The Seahorses days, that the penny drops exactly who he is. He is not comfortable with either of the old standards and prefers his cover of a Soldout Brothers song.

His eyes are sad and it saddens me at the thought that someone could not enjoy doing something that brings pleasure to others. There’s a feeling he is almost being rehabilitated back into performing and his family sit in front of him supportively and he seems visibly bolstered by the presence of his two young sons and his wife to be. He is emotional and while the sound of a tremble in his voice might not be for the same reasons as he trebled when he first picked up a guitar but it is touching and warm. None more so when he later puts down the guitar and asks the audience to accompany him with claps and foot stomping as he sings his final song about his wife to be and becoming married which he dedicates it to her with his eyes.

The afternoon draws out in the sun that belies the mud and bands play second to relaxing in whatever area one can find to sit in. The next act to register are are Lava back in the Kaylied tent, selling themselves as "Hot Latino; Soulful Blues; Funky Flamenco"…all the way from sultry, erm, Lancaster. They certainly have enthusiasm - and some of their longer pieces would fit well as background music in a tapas restaurant - but the exuberance of one member as he weaved around the audience to stir them up did smack slightly of the keeness of your dad to get involved in the dancing at a wedding reception after several glasses of wine…Indeed, they are not as much fun to watch as they are to be in no doubt. Striking the balance perfectly of fun for both audience and performers were the The Wierd [sic] String Band who are a riot.

Having cropped up supporting British Sea Power in Kendal Brewery Arts Centre last year, they were on a list of bands to see at 'Calling and they did not disappoint. They are three native guys - double bass, acoustic guitar and fiddle - playing daft songs and odd cover versions (e.g. Kids in “Aspatria” - one for the locals, there!) and sharing a laugh. The free form joyous dancing, especially to their unique take on The Time Warp, is lapped up by the middle day crowd and the end comes too soon. Truly daft but guaranteed to get you laughing and jigging along and is essential to stave off mud induced fatigue as the evening builds toward the headliners.

That middle day crowd seem to have adopted a kind of “rugby team” night out mentality of drinking, good natured lairyness and dressing in tutus - the men at least - and they are full of good spirits but one senses not especially here to watch a band but rather to enjoy atmosphere around them.

On then to second day headlines the Super Furry Animals who fill the main stage and engulf the audience with a powerful set of strong guitaring. They certainly have devotees - hello Esther and Ian - in the same way that a band like The Wedding Present do, and like that band you probably have to 'get it' and I don't but I know a band who can belt out a tune when I hear one and SFA are that. A frenzy of excitement has built up at the front before Gruff Rhys enters the stage last in an oversized bikers helmet from within the vocals for the first track emerge slightly muffled. The helmet rapidly disappears and Gruff is liberated for the rest of the set, his unveiling inducing whoops from the audience. Several songs in, including the popular Rings Around The World, we reluctantly exit during Juxtaposed With U which sounds immense in the humid, sticky atmosphere of the Saturday night main stage and one of us murmurs the chorus whilst negotiating the foot deep mud in the dark.

They are delighting the crowd when I'm heading home to a warm bed.

Which is my confession. With the future Mrs Wood's parents living a mile or so away I'm scrubbed and clean for return each morning and not emerged fully in the festival atmosphere but as it‘s my first one, I‘d better ease myself in gently.

The toilets are foul, men pee against anything that stands and the pools of urine that collect are looked on and judged as not that bad compared to some festivals. After day two I'm having fun but nearest I’ve been to camping here is chatting to some friends stood outside their tents. They are a bit hardier and I probably would be if I had to sleep in this mud hacked field.

The next day starts off late because houses are nice and warm. Local lot The Witch and Robot try too hard on the Main stage to be strange and end up coming off like a sixth form music project. They churn predictably through chose changes without much of a spark.

Possessed of lots of spark are quintet of lads Brandon Steep who are up from that Hereford via London - a fact evidenced by the way one of them is wearing a years old Arsenal away shirt - and have attracted a good few followers in the Club COG tent. They have a good pop sensibility and know how to write a hook. They get shouty once or twice but they are kids so that is forgivable.

Bands that can carry create intelligent, good pop are rare and writing some of the smartest pop of recent years are The Brakes. Brakes main man Eamon Hamilton is doing his solo acoustic set in the Kaylied stage and having spiked a few new tunes in the set has freshness he takes a ramble through the array of short, sharp classics.

Porcupine or Pineapple is roughly ace and Eternal Return - a new track - wets the appetite for the third album. Slower numbers like No Return are a bit lost in the atmosphere today on an audience who are a mix of British Sea Power fans - indeed “Yan” of BSP came to watch his ex-band mate too- some Brakes people, wanderers and in a large part, the battle worn.

Because it has occurred to me that the festival crowd of Kendal Calling - and no doubt other places - mutates over the weekend as if battle weary. They seem to start with some focus on who they want to see and they seem to watch the with a reserve on the opening night but by this final Sunday it seems to me that great gangs are wandering the site in dire need of things to enjoy. They are done with selective. Warm cider, aching legs and sleeplessness will see them enjoy anything. Quality control has gone out into the mud with the countless lost flip flops and while every man, woman and child in this land should enjoy Eamon Hamilton one suspects for some of his audience they would be as entertained by a cow breaking wind. I do not wish to tar all with this brush - although even I am guilty of being more into mood than music on this final day - but such is the experience.

We were keen to see The Wildwood Band as they contain two thirds of the riotous Wierd Sting band we enjoyed the day before but failed due to possible rescheduling and so we saw instead Barrow-in-Furness singer John Byrne takes to the Kaylied stage in a snappy striped suit with an entertaining tune or two to be received like the return of the Beatles. Peppered with local area references, there is a something a little “Arctic Monkeys” or “The Streets” about his lyrics concerning minutiae of daily life. His song about not liking your Chav neighbour - Scummy - is lapped up and in the thick of the throng are probably the very type of person Byrne wants to move away from.

Back in the Main tent, the stage is filled with the nine strong group The Bookhouse Boys who are entertaining but not as epic as they seem to think they are. Named from David Lynch series “Twin Peaks”, the Londoners wear their Angelo Badalamenti inspirations of their sleeves but also extend their filmic influences to include The Surfaris, etc. as heard in Tarantino films. They are worth further consideration but once again they seem to be drawing an audience who are punch drunk and applaud anything. O Fracas over from Leeds are less entertaining but get the same response in Club COG tent. Meanwhile, Seven Seals get a second bigger bite of the cherry by filling in on the Main stage for the also ill Mystery Jets and play to a thinner crowd. So called legends EMF play the Traffic dance tent. EMF are no one's legends with little more than a single catchy chorus to their name but the name recognition value is enough to see them attract a healthy - well, large - crowd.

On then to British Sea Power who headline this third day having come 500 meters from their familial home in village Natland next to Kendal and playing the ultimate in home town gigs. Having seen Sea Power in Kendal and being impressed I hoped this would be more of the same and less like the indulgence of their show in Bradford a year before but I am disappointed with a band that on vinyl can lay claim to the title of “The English Arcade Fire” once again being rendered uninteresting in a large venue.

I struggle to know why this is and I know I am in a minority as many people wave flags and go wild to a band who are genuinely different and incredibly interesting record but the detached and diffident style that makes albums like Do You Like Rock Music? curious and fascinating makes the live shows distant and unengaging. They are a band with whom one can stand one to one with but who seem to fail - for me anyway - in a multitude of people. One's relationship with British Sea Power has to seem personal or it is - sadly - nothing at all.

So they play Remember Me and it is a highlight and No Lucifer sounds great but nothing hits me on an emotional level in the way - for example - Canvey Island does on the third album or thrill me like It Ended On An Oily Stage did on the second. Many others enjoy them. Many do. I wish I could.

And in a way I wish I could lounge in the festival atmosphere again. The slow afternoons are lazy delights and the people on the whole, friendly. It was unfortunate that the secondary headliners at the 8pm slot on both Saturday and Sunday had to cancel at short notice and this provided a bit of a lull in proceedings, however it gave opportunity to other smaller acts to be noticed and a bit of chance to rest your ears before the main headliners of the evening. Kendal Calling is a wonderfully small size (about 4,000 capacity) and next year I will probably be back.

I might even bring my tent next time.

This article, and weekend, only happened with the immense contribution of Ms Ria Wilkinson.

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