Working as a night traffic marshal I didn’t get to see much of the festival, although I could hear most of it and did catch a glimpse of the stage screen during headliners Morrissey and Prince from a distant car park -I quickly learned that dancing around whilst wearing high-vis clothing does get you noticed and a fair bit of mockery and laughter from festival revellers does ensue.
Hop Farm is a small festival that is only in its fourth year, and after just coming home from Glastonbury it was a quite a (nice) shock to realise you can walk from one end of it to the other in around ten minutes. And there are only three stages which means there are less acts to choose from, but also that you don’t miss out on as much as you would at a festival the size of Glastonbury.
I only managed to catch a few acts between shifts on the main stage. These were the likes of Newton Faulkner who was charming, funny and extremely talented, Brother (now Viva Brother) who I have to admit weren’t as good as they seemed to think they were and had a sort of unfounded arrogance about them. On the opposite end of the scale, singers Imelda May, and Eliza Doolittle were both very good and each have incredible voices in their own right. Aloe Blacc, also an incredible singer was good, but tried too much of that soul-searching, christian preachy type of crowd participation that just doesn’t seem to work in the UK as well as it does in the States. Nevertheless he still got a good reception and is an incredible performer.
Moreover, one of the best things about small festivals, I think, is the fact that you get to see some new bands that you just wouldn’t come across at a larger event. For instance The 1945, on the bread and roses stage looked very promising, starting their set with a Rolling Stones song to lure the punters in and then carrying on in a Libertines/Ramones style with way more energy than you’d expect from a first on the bill band on a sunday morning. Watch this space.
Of course, you couldn’t mention Hop Farm 2011 without talking about Prince. Allegedly having turned down Glastonbury for this gig, expectation was high and he definitely delivered. It is safe to say that most people who went on the sunday were there pretty much primarily for Prince (a lot of people arrived just before he started; we filled at least two car parks in the hour or so before he was due on stage) and he played for just over two hours. Like I said, I wasn’t actually in the crowd because I was working so can’t really give a proper review but I can say that if he was as good as he was from about half a mile away standing in a car park then he must have been extraordinary up front. It was excruciatingly frustrating to not be a real part of it!
So maybe next year I will opt for the smaller festival, especially if the line-up continues to be as good as it has been; 2010 gave the stage to Van Morrison, Blondie and Bob Dylan, this year was Eagles, Morrissey and Prince, surely it can only get better in 2012?