The Hop Farm music festival returned with a solid gold Brian Wilson and a captivating Caro Emerald
Brian Wilson performing at Hop Farm 2014 Photo: GT2014
By Thomas H Green
2:21PM BST 06 Jul 2014
After a shaky six years with Vince Power as supremo, the Hop Farm was cancelled last year due to poor sales. Now the festival is starting from scratch with new management.
It currently has a relatively small capacity of 10,000 but there’s now more emphasis on old-school festival charm. Secondary stages featured quirky acts such as Seventies hippy punks Pink Fairies and prog jazz-rockers Soft Machine Legacy. Family-friendly, with a genial atmosphere, assisted by bursts of bright sunshine, there was plenty of room to mill about.
Friday headliner Ray Davies, sometimes a rather po-faced stage presence, got into the spirit of things. Dedicating two songs to his sister, whom he said had passed away the previous day, he led his band and a bellowing crowd through rowdy versions of Kinks' classics such as Sunny Afternoon and his Luddite nostalgia anthem 20th Century Man. Davies' voice may not be what it was but no one seemed to care as the set climaxed with a noisy You Really Got Me.
It was all rather different from Echo & the Bunnymen who preceded him. Their singer Ian McCulloch emanated drily amused ambivalence, only really whipping things up towards the end of the band’s set with the 1983 indie corker The Cutter.