It was Hop Farm’s first year without Vince’s Power behind the promoting, but a quirky family orientated approach supplied by Neil Butkeraitis’ new organisation and plenty of festival charm and great headliners in Grace Jones, Brian Wilson and Ray Davies.
Echo and the Bunnymen, the Lightning Seeds, former Beautiful South frontman Paul Heaton, 10cc and Eliza Doolittle kicked off a cloudy Friday afternoon, but the majority were out in anticipation for a taste of ‘60s nostalgia with former Kinks frontman, Ray Davies.
Exchanging vocal finesse for raucous renditions of crowd pleasing Kinks classics, 10,000 revellers happily swerved the rain throughout ‘Sunny Afternoon’, ‘Lola’, ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ before the legendary British songwriter brought his energetic set to a closing climax with ‘You Really Got Me’.
The comedy tent saw a surge of enthusiasm for Jo Brand’s standup the following day while Seventies hippy punks Pink Fairies and prog jazz-rockers Soft Machine Legacy kept the smaller stages alive.
The evening saw Dutch retro swing queen Caro Emerald and Squeeze warming up for Beach Boys’ legends Brian Wilson and Al Jardine who were reunited on stage for a set of solid classics including ‘Barbara Ann’, ‘Surfin’ USA’ and ‘Fun, Fun Fun’ as the rain started to fall.
Cockney duo, Chas & Dave continued the theme of memory lane Sunday afternoon with a sing-along ‘Rabbit and Gertcha’ before former Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond kicked it up a gear with ‘Bedsitter’ and ‘Tainted Love’ even though he was visibly embarrassed at getting his verses mixed up he carried on like the try professional he is.
For those in the know some of the most interesting acts were on Terry’s stage, the Daptone Super Soul Revue ignited every soul within earshot as powerhouses Sharon King, Sugarman 3, the Dap-Kings and Charles Bradley joined forces with the afrobeat juggernaut Antibalas for a non-stop extravaganza featuring Master of Ceremonies Binky Griptite. Inspired by the high-energy Stax, Motown, and James Brown revues of the past, the Daptone Super Soul Revue were the undisputed champions of fringe performers with their seamlessly sleek offering of rare grooves.
Midlake performed one of the stand out sets of the day on Terry’s stage with a mix of psychedelia and folk. The harder edge sound coming from songs on the new album Antiphon.
They still had a place for the classic Roscoe and “because it was a festival” a cover of Dylan’s I Shall Be Released.
Back on the main stage with almost as many costume changes as songs, statuesque diva, Grace Jones brought the festival to a close with crowd-pleasing hits such as Pull Up To The Bumper, Private Lives, Williams Blood and Love Is The Drug.
Keeping the 5,000 strong crowd waiting for a good 15 minutes she appeared through a black backdrop and a haze of smoke and lights up high like a caged fighter unleashing Nightclubbing.
As iconic and as vital today as she was 30 years ago Grace gave a thrilling performance of hits and costume changes and although at times to appear as mad as a bag of hammers she treated us to confetti before hoola-hooping her way through ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ to complete the hour-and-a-quarter set.
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Words by Zoe Miranda, Gemma Brosnan and Simon Jay Price.
Photos by Simon Jay Price.
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