Live Review

Hop Farm 2012

Hop Farm may not be the ‘in’ festival. Hop Farm may not be a sell out. But it provides a service to which it’s entirely faithful to.

In a crevasse of Kent sits a festival worthy of a midnight snack for the nostalgia famished. Smothered in likeable, non-conformist attributes and lathered in rich taste - Vince Power’s, Hop Farm Festival offers a wide range of musical backgrounds with absence of ego, whilst still retaining bursting passion and enthusiasm. Still in the infancy of its festival life, the five year running festival refuses to quiver in the corner when confronted by playground bullies, Glastonbury or Reading & Leeds. What’s more, the busking points which circulate around the site form a bond between the different stages of musical progression and genre, welcoming each individual throughout this festival of music equality.

Gently isolated amongst the early afternoon breeze, Jose Gonzalez willingly hypnotises a bright eyed crowd on the main stage. His only companion being the chair he’s sitting on, Gonzalez completely dominates the stage through powerful emotive control, silencing the eager audience from the first few notes of ‘Heartbeats’. A walk away, raw possessiveness perfumes the air around the big tent as chorus yells of Lianne La Havas’ ‘Forget’ radiate through the site like a destructive tsunami of sound. As her soul surfaces from an emotive reservoir of bottled up pain, the poise of heartbroken blues and mischievous charm from her debut record Is Your Love Big Enough? is well balanced. The Futureheads stupefied the country crowd with acapella covers from their latest album, Rant whilst The Stranglers lured in a pining crowd for who were rewarded with the roar of applaud during the harpsichord riff of ‘Golden Brown’. Bringing Friday to a dramatic end, headliner Peter Gabriel exhaled an array of the grand accompanied by the magnificent and alluringly captivating New Blood Orchestra.

It’s difficult to ignore the name ‘Sir Bruce Forsyth’ on a music festival bill. Whilst the ignorant tried not to enjoy the performance of jokes, audience participation and dance numbers, Slow Club played a dizzy, energetic set over at the big tent before shouting at the audience ‘take your tops off!’ and ending on ‘Giving Up On Love’. Saturday highlights include the unrefined authority of Patti Smith and her band (including Patrick Wolf on the fiddle), followed by a melancholic, powerful performance by Damien Rice. Now, what can be said about Bob Dylan? Odd, uncharacteristic, confused. ‘Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance’? Er, no.

Rainclouds and unpredictable showers shadowed over the final day of Hop Farm as tender Londoner Marcus Foster graces the stage of the big tent, pulling in an impressive crowd easing hangovers. Whilst the crowd scurry into the Bread & Roses tent, avoiding the torrential downpour like rodents during Jonquil’s set, 70s groove funk legends Kool & The Gang pull in an audience of poncho-wearing-embarrassingly drunk mother types over at the main stage. Both successfully rain dancing their way around their set, Kool & The Gang and Tom Vek manage to hold off the wet weather with electric, bass heavy performances.

Hop Farm may not be the ‘in’ festival. Hop Farm may not be a sell out. But it provides a service to which it’s entirely faithful to.

Tags: Tom Vek, Features

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