Although promoter Vince Power’s independent anti-corporate family festival Hop Farm is a three day setup, the line up for the Saturday i.e.: Patti, Lou, Iggy and Mozza is what we are here for.
To start off today’s proceedings, Mary Coughlan, tries, but fails to win over the first couple of hundred of arrivals from the campsite, and the early concert commuters from London. Hopes of getting a hangover cure from Coughlin’s songs are quickly diminished. Sounding like a bad cabaret singer trying to imitate Patsi Cline, Coughlin was definitely a bad choice for the opener. Most fans now find themselves wandering to the bar to get away from the scouring yelps of this less than average singer.
As midday arrives, and the sun grows brighter in the sky, Damien Dempsey comes to rescue the crowd. With his allure of positivity, and soulful acoustic-folk-reggae ballads, Dempsey, and his full backing band quickly has the crowd standing to their feet singing along to:’ It’s all Good’, and ‘Sing All Our Cares Away’.
In between munching crêpes and organic burgers, or downing a quick beer, fans are swarming outside The Big Tent stage to reminisce about the early days of Britpop as The Bluetones blast out an array of acoustic pop hits, including,’ Slight Return’, proving that in the music business, sometimes, just one three minute hit can be enough to sustain a career. Sadly, however, they announce this is their last gig.
As evening approaches, the big acts make their faces known. First up is Patti Smith. With a time line of just 40 minutes, the Queen of Punk makes the most of every song. The set is a stripped down acoustic affair, with a little backing piano, and violin from special guest, Patrick Wolf. Smith is all heart, and political rhetoric, propelling the crowd, young and old, into an emotional frenzy with a raucous version of ‘Gloria’ and an emotional delivery of ‘Because the Night’, whom she dedicates to her deceased husband, (Fred Smith – former guitarist of MC5).
As one New York legend departs, another walks on stage, but Lou, you should really have given up the day job some time ago. Let’s get one thing straight. Lou Reed is undoubtedly one of the finest songwriters of the 1970s at least, and arguably one of the most important figures in popular culture of the last 40 years, but the man should have given up live performances a long time ago. With a backing band that is second to none, Lou Reed, out of key, and looking in ill health, bangs out’ Sunday Morning’ and ‘Femme Fatale’ looking like an uncle who has had to too much to drink at a wedding party, and doesn’t know when to call it a night on the old sing-song routine.
If there were contests in the 1970s for taking drugs and pushing the conventions of hedonism to extremes, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop would be in close competition, and although the narcotics and old age seemed to have caught up with Lou, Iggy ( and The Stooges) tonight runs on stage with all the energy of a 21 year old, topless, and with his blonde highlights and fake tan shined up especially for the occasion, he gives the crowd a much needed boost after the hour or so they’ve just experienced. Iggy is dragging people up on stage and running around like a mad man- belting out anthems of garage sleaze such as: ‘1970’, ‘Gimme Danger’, and ‘No Fun’. “We’re The Stooges, and we fucking love you guys,” he proclaims before exiting.
As the sun sinks down deep into the heart of the English countryside, the build up for Morrissey begins. Clips on the big screen, include: footage of Lou Reed, looking considerably younger and cooler, and a dapper Joe Dolan, dancing around in the 1970s. As Mozza walks on stage he asks the crowd: “How do you follow Iggy and The Stooges?” Well, when you’re armed to the teeth with songs like, ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’, ‘There is a Light that Never Goes Out’, ‘Every Day is Like Sunday’- to name just three of a repertoire of about 20 classics he plays, the answer is, you just perform. True to his showman credentials, Morrissey belts out hit after hit, showing fans that he may just have surpassed his heroes that warmed up the crowd for him today.
Hop Farm Festival was, by and large, a day of fun drenched in nostalgia in a nice relaxed environment, with the all-important perfect weather. It could easily win the award for most chilled out and feel good festival of the summer.