Working on the premise that it is better late than never, here is my post on the Hop Farm Festival which took place way back in the last weekend of June. It is now almost August…

This is the second festival I’ve been to this year and we’ve been lucky with the weather both times, at Meadowlands it only rained a little, and at Hop Farm it was windy but pretty sunny. Given that many festivals have been a wash-out because of the weather this year, this is a triumph. Here’s proof from our favourite food stall:

The festival site is split into three stages – the Main Stage as shown top, the Big Tent, shown below and the Bread and Roses Stage. This works well for anyone who can’t get about too fast – the stages are not as far apart as they are at Glastonbury and each stage has a dedicated disabled platform which can only be accessed with a pass and gives a reasonable view of the stage for those in wheelchairs, and seating for those who cannot stand for long (that’s me). Of course, there’s always a ‘blanket on the ground’ where there’s space near the main stage.

You still need to plan well to be able to see the bands you like as invariably they overlap. Here’s my Saturday afternoon planning list so we can try to see as many of our favourites as we can!

Saturday’s Main stage opened with Treetop Flyers and Bellowhead, both of which I think were at Green Man last year (stop me if I’m wrong). Excellent performances both and lots of audience participation with Bellowhead’s shanty-inspired songs. Little Barry (below) were in the Big Tent and played well but the sound suffered from the set-up in there with the speakers all at the stage end and a lack of depth due either to this set-up or maybe a lazy sound desk, dare I say. Their album (King of the Waves) is excellent so I don’t think it was them. Just didn’t seem to be loud enough in the Big Tent… vague reminiscence of festivals when it was so loud your ears rang for days after (not healthy of course).

Although Bob Dylan was headlining on Saturday, the set we really wanted to see was Primal Scream. They didn’t let us down, not only were they loud, but Bobby Gillespie’s stage presence was electric – what can I say – he just whips everyone up, and what energy! Where does it all come from? Definitely the best performance we saw.

The Bread and Roses Stage was the most intimate set-up, and had performances from White Denim (below), Peter Hook and the Light who actually played Joy Division songs – apparently controversial (as discussed on 6Music) but actually strangely good to hear an entire audience singing along with ‘Love will tear us apart’. Both emotional and ironic at the same time.

In the middle of the afternoon we sat out in the sun and listened to Randy Crawford. I’m not really a fan, but actually the moment was perfect, it was sunny and she had a sunny voice, mellow jazz in the afternoon – it just worked. Sometimes festivals are about the listening (Patti Smith), sometimes it is the performance (Primal Scream), and sometimes it is the moment (Randy Crawford).