As I sit here sipping a much needed cup of tea and in even more need of a shower, I am reflecting over the last 24 hours of musical bliss. Yesterday (Saturday 3rd of July 2010) I had to pleasure of seeing some of finest names in the music world at the Hop Farm Festival, which probably has/ had the best line up of all the summer festivals, well in my opinion (and Marcus Mumford's too!) anyway!
The weekend started with my journey to Paddock Wood in which I encountered the living embodiment of the "Gap Yar" parody on youtube. Seriously these girls were as pretentious as fuck and were the kind of people who go off and do charity work (Uganda apparently) just so they can shove it down your throat. And if that wasn't enough the camp site seemed to be filled with these types of people who all seemed very up themselves (especially when it came to opinions about Dylan, apparently if you don't like him you "just don't understand"). But then again I'm sure I look pretty pretentious walking around with my socks pulled up and playing my guitar which has "This Machine Kills Fascists" scrawled across it. But I digress...
Foy Vance: The music started on the Saturday in the best possible way. A guy I had never heard of called Foy Vance took to the stage. He automatically started to address the crowed and started joking about drawing people to the stage by playing a Dylan song. After all the banter at the start he started to play the opening song of the festival. It was amazing. Not only was it a good song but it was beautiful. He used loops to create some incredible sounds and then started to play his guitar like a violin. It was a really incredible sight/ sound. The rest of his set was comprised of other incredible songs and when he left the stage after 30 minutes it really only felt like he'd been on for about 10 minutes. He is definitely a name I will be looking out for in the future:
Stand out song: The opening song that I don't know the name of...
The Magic Numbers: I have never really been a huge follower of their music if I'm honest. I heard the song "forever lost" a few years back but had never really heard them since then. Regardless of that though they played some great music and got the crowed going. Although I had never really been a fan they put on a great live show.
Stand out song: Forever Lost
Johnny Flynn: Now here is a man and band that I have been waiting to see for a LONG time! Needless to say the anticipation has raised the expectation bar pretty high but they smashed it, easily. When they came out the humble lead singer Johnny, seemed truly overwhelmed by how many people had come and how many people in the crowd were cheering for him. The set was superb and showcased the true talent of the band, especially Johnny's multi-instrumentally talent which saw him playing the guitar, mandolin, banjo, violin and trumpet. There was only one problem however, the set was FAR too short! I was left wanting more especially as notable songs such as "The wrote and the writ" and "The Water" were not part of the set list. However, still an incredible show.
Stand out song: Eyeless in Holloway
Laura Marling: Anyone who knows me well will know I love Laura Marling with a passion. Her voice is strangely addictive and her whistling is top notch (her words not mine). Again, she was incredibly humble and seemed genuinely flattered that so many people had turned up to see her play. She played a lot of material from her new album and it was a great set. The only problem for me was that the scorching heat almost made me pass out so I couldn't fully enjoy the set. But even so, the talented Miss. Marling put on a brilliant show
Stand out song: Blackberry Stone
Now at this point I had to go for a sit down as I was really starting to feel the heat. And then I got to witness something many people have spoken of but I had never experience. The very fucked, Pete Dogherty took to the stage looking like he had been dragged through a hedge. I really didn't know what to expect but what I was given made me chuckle. His music wasn't bad to be fair. He played some solo stuff and mixed it together with Libertines covers. He also tried to get the crowd to sing along to "hoppin' down in Kent" but no one seemed to be that up for it. All in all though, a good listen even if was only on the big screens around the arena.
Stand out song: Don't Look Back Into The Sun
Seasick Steve: I had heard many good things about Seasick Steve but none of them even gave the guy credit to just how entertaining he is. His set was incredible. His energy considering he is a pretty old dude was phenomenal. He would move around the stage and come up to the crowd and enjoy himself. He was also incredibly humble. After every song he took a bow and kept saying that it was a real honour to play in front of us. He used several biz are instruments of his own inventions as well as guitars with only 3 or so strings on them. His stage presence was phenomenal and he put on a brilliant show that left everyone wanting more!
Stand out song: Burning Up
Mumford & Sons: If you've ever read my blog before you will have probably come across posts that confess my undying love for this band but seeing them live was an experience I will never forget. The band came on stage and immediately began playing "Sigh No More". The atmosphere had changed from the loud, boucning energy of Seasick Steve to an almost silent mass of people listening to one of the most beautiful songs I have seen performed live. As the set progressed it's easy to see just why Mumford & Sons are THE big thing at the moment. The four of them seem like genuinely nice people and like many of the others are so humble. They seemed shocked at just how many people they were playing to and they even said themselves they just didn't understand why people love them so much but in this disbelief they seem to genuinely have about their popularity they fully enjoy the energy the crowd give them. They did not stop smiling and you really got the sense they were enjoying every second of being on stage. And then the warning I had received from a friend happened. The song "Winter Winds" started to play and the emotional was overwhelming and I couldn't help but cry as a shill was sent down my spine and I got goosebumps all over. And I was not the only one. Just looking around the mass of people I knew I was not the only one who felt like that. I have never felt so emotional when listening to live music before and it was one of the most intense feelings. I loved EVERY second of it.
Stand out song: Winter Winds
After the emotional rollercoster that was Mumford & Sons Ray Davies took to the stage but I really didn't see/ listen to him so therefore cannot pass judgement.
Now onto the headline act. The living legend, Bob Dylan. I'm not going to lie Dylan was one of the main reasons I got a ticket to the festival. To experience a live show is something I had wanted to do for a while and I really expected good things. But sadly, I was hugely disappointed. Dylan come onto the stage with his backing band and you could barely hear a word he was singing. If I'm honest I had no idea what I expect but I guess I just expected more than I got. He only played one song I recognised and the others were just incoherent and I really think you had to be a HUGE Dyaln fan to work out what it was. Because I was so disappointed I decided to leave early and preserve whatever opinion I had of Dylan being the legend he once was. I was truly gutted songs like "the times they are a changin'", "dust in the wind", "tombstone blues", "all along the watch tower" and "knockin' on heavens door" were left out (to my knowledge at least). I really felt like I my view of Bob Dylan has been crushed a bit. Don't get me wrong I know his age is probably a big factor in his stage presense (or lack there of) and he has 50 years of music to showcase but I was just disappointed with what I saw. Definitely the low point of the evening for me.
Stand out song: Don't think twice, It'll Be All Right
Good bits: Mumford & Songs (I freaking love them), the music, the incredible atmosphere
Bad bits: The disappointment of Bob Dylan, the lack of sleep, the heat, the pretentious "gap ya" students, the loud Irish people in the tent next to us
Performance of the day: It's pretty hard to decide. It is really between Mumford, Seasick Steve and Foy Vance . But I think it was to go to Mumford & Sons just because they were everything I hoped for and more.