When the announcement of the third Hop Farm Festival line-up was announced earlier this year I got excited. For me it was almost perfect. There was Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Peter Doherty and headliner Bob Dylan, I was looking forward to this for a long time (despite only buying a ticket the day before). Â£65 to see a lot of my favourite bands seemed a good deal, the added Â£8 on each ticket for booking fee seemed pretty ridiculous, especially as we collected the tickets at the festival. It seemed even more harsh when we missed the first few acts because we were left waiting at the train station for an hour waiting for a shuttle bus to take us to the site. Surely they knew trains from London arrived every half hour, why didn't they have shuttle buses on ready, they discouraged people to walk down the busy roads but forgot to provide a good service. A bit of preparation would have been nice. The festival is marketed like some little non-corporate event, it is far from that as it has Vince Power, the found of mega-huge promoters Mean Fiddler behind it.
After queuing up for the box office we finally made it in as Johnny Flynn arrived on the main stage. We felt like we deserved a drink after all the queuing in the heat. We headed to the bar, by the time we got served Johnny Flynn had finished, not only was that annoying but also being charged SIX POUNDS for a pint (two of them pounds were a deposit for the plastic cup to help with recycling, but still!).
The stage crew do deserve some credit, the change-overs were quickm which allowed the performances to last longer. We found a place in front of the main stage ready for Laura Marling amongst the middle class families. It was a fairly mixed crowd which gave it a 'nice' atmosphere. During Laura's quieter songs the audience were respectful and kept hush, I was being distracted by the family in-front tucking into their picnic consisting of cous-cous and veg, strawberries, grapes and homemade cakes, not exactly the usual festival grub. Laura played a great set covering material from her latest album, I Speak Because I Can as well as a few old favourites where she got the crowd the whistle along to Night Terror with her.
After a twenty minute queue at an ice-cream van for a bottle of coke, Peter Doherty arrived on stage to a surprisingly warm reception. He played songs covering all areas of his back catalogue as well as crowd participation with a Chas & Dave song. He was joined on stage by two skinny girls trying to resemble ballerinas but their dancing out of time didn't really add anything. The performance seemed miles away from his Rhythm Factory gig in January, this time he seemed to be enjoying himself as he chatted to the crowd and looked like he was having a good time.
Not knowing stage times was a bit annoying but I didn't fancy shelling out seven pounds for a program so we ended up missing Villagers which was frustrating, I swear I will never get to see them after cancelling Great Escape and clashing with Los Campesinos! at Dot-to-Dot. We queued twenty minutes for the toilet then same again at the bar whilst Seasick Steve was on. The problem with having a festival full of middle class folk is that they happily pay four quid a pint so the queues were even longer than normal. Mumford & Sons came on to a heroes welcome as they powered on through tracks from their debut album Sigh No More, âLittle Lion Manâ received the best reaction, it could become the festival anthem of the summer. I was disappointed they decided to leave âDust Bowl Danceâ out, it's clearly their best song but they were on top form.
Another twenty minute queue for the toilet was in order after Mumfords concluded, then an hours queue for a six pound burger which meant we missed all of Ray Davies' set. I will admit that it was a very good burger and we were ready for the headliner Bob Dylan. I have seen Dylan once before, a few years ago at Sheffield Arena, I hoped this was a one off because that performance was shocking, Unfortunately it wasn't, he was even worse this time, he cannot sing anymore and he didn't allow close-ups on the big screens so you couldn't even see him. He should just give up and not ruin his legacy. We lasted about four songs. I hoped to watch Devendra Banhart on the second stage but for some reason they put him on after Dylan's set which meant that anybody catching the train would have missed him.
Potentially it could have been amazing, the line-up looked incredible but a lack of organisation and preparation ruined it.
Photos courtesy of Ben Wetherall
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