Hop Farm 2012 Saturday 30th June

I do love music festivals. Especially on a nice summer’s day. Where every hour is Pimms o’clock and the atmosphere is relaxed. Hop Farm is a small indie festival just outside the M25. Going for the weekend would have been nice, but impactical. A day trip, however, seemed too good to pass up on.

Patti Smith

Patti Smith was amazing. She was increbably comfortable on stage; understated and composed. Nothing about her stage presence detracted from her delivery.

From Dancing Barefoot to Gloria the entire set was compelling. Although the set may not have been the most diverse it flowed nicely and Gloria, the finale was brilliant.

It would have been nice to see Patti Smith the 1970s, but its good to see that time has not detracted from the intensity of her delivery and performance.

Gary Numan

Gary Numan put on a good rock show. Joined by a full band the older material was far more aggressive than in the studio. He was a brash yin to Patti Smith’s understated yang, despite them both being good performers.

Unfortunately, they clashed. In hindsight perhaps the billing for Maximo Park and Gary Numan should have been reversed. However, it is hard to gauge the popularity of a musician who, as the program stated, is known ‘for living in a cupboard in The Mighty Boosh’ with relatively few albums for the length of his career.

As a result I can’t tell how timeless his rendition of Cars was. What I did see was good. The versions of Metal and Are ‘Friends’ Electric were hard hitting and impressive. Festival sets can be disappointing, but this left me wanting more, so I would consider it a success.

The Headliners

Bob Dylan headlined the main stage. He is a fantastic songwriter and it was impossible to pass up the opportunity to see him live. There is no other place he could have been on the bill, but his live reputation is deservedly mixed. Whilst  the musical talent of both him and his band did shine, his style of songwriting is there to serve the lyrics. His voice, however, is shot.

After a few incomprehensible songs being unable to connect with the material I left to see the other acts. We settled on Peter Hook And The Light.

Peter Hook is the bassist from Joy Division and New Order, which is merit enough to catch my interest. We caught most of his set. None of the headliners were too inspiring, but there was some solid material and his style meshed most closely with my tastes.

Whether he was unsure of himself as a singer or the music itself I am unsure but he spent the entire set hiding behind his bass guitar, despite barely playing it. Even for the Joy Division songs that he had written he sang and little else.

I am glad to have seen versions of Transmission, She’s Lost Control and Love Will Tear Us Apart curated and performed by one of the original writers, but Peter Hook’s voice lacked the power of Ian Curtis. The renditions were good, but they lacked a certain edge. The only direct negative I can give is that I was disappointed to see Love Will Tear Us Apart turned into an upbeat pop anthem (despite it being mostly faithful).

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