A Day at the Farm

Neil Young and Guests – Hop Farm, Coppets Wood, Kent – 6 July

 After avoiding the heavy downpours of the day and resisting the temptation of a classic Wimbledon final we arrived at Hop Farm to be greeted by sunshine and the Americana jamming of My Morning Jacket.  Swiftly followed by an ever eager and reliable Supergrass, who displayed an age-old assurance of semi-classic tunes and a good-times vibe – they even played their albatross, ‘Alright’.  The wind though played havoc with the sound system swirling Supergrass’s effervescent songs into a sonic maelstrom.

Favourably the wind eased off a little for the arrival of Primal Scream.  Dressed in a black jacket and 60’s red polka shirt Bobby Gillespie danced around the stage clapping his hands at regular intervals, radiating one of his better moods.  Clearly in a party frame of mind the band churned out the classics – ‘Jailbird’, ‘Movin on up’ and ‘Rocks’, but only on a storming ‘Swastika Eyes’did they raise the tempo and showcase their thrilling potential.  A relaxed but traditional set that integrated their new songs while appeasing the older sections of the crowd.

More than an hour later Young finally ambled on stage and cranked the tempo up straight away with bruised rocker – ‘Love and only love’.  He was in a convivial mood, backed by his trusty cohorts, Ben Keith on pedal steel and Rick Rosas on bass.  The crowd were treated to a varied selection spanning his back catalogue, mixing songs from his debut, the rarely performed – ‘I’ve been waiting for you’ to his latest, chrome dreams 2 – which included the epic ‘No hidden path’.  The effortless ease of Young and his band switching from ragged and scorched rock to poignantly introspective country was quite spectacular and had the crowd second guessing the whole gig.

In the midst of the set Young stirred the crowd into a mass sing along with his timeless classics, ‘Heart of gold’ & ‘Old man’and ‘The Needle and the damage done’ sounded  even more mournful  in the company of a large crowd.  Though it was the electric numbers that resonated most, many of them extended into cascading odysseys, in an open and brooding skyline – Young’s guitar sending shimmers of sound across the Kent countryside.  This collage of sonic distortion was brought to a thrilling climax on the baffling set closer, The Beatles – ‘A day in the life’.  With a grizzled intensity Young sang as if were one of his own.    An enjoyable and surprising end to an entertaining day at the farm.  Next year though a little more organisation regarding the toilets and car park would be greatly appreciated, 45 minute queues for toilets is surely too much to bear.  I thought Vince Power, festival pioneer, would have more experience!

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