Hop Farm Festival, Paddock Wood, Kent
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Monday 02 July 2012
When Bob Dylan meets the masses at a rock festival, news he’s gone electric hasn’t always arrived, let alone his music’s ongoing 21st century renovation.
Legitimate complaints that some nights his lyrics are inaudible are at least rebuffed in his only 2012 UK show, sung in his gutted growl with committed art. He plays odd, dominant keyboard riffs at his superb band’s heart, and dances across the stage during 2001’s “High Water”, an apocalyptic hoedown for hard times he follows with “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, in which conservative country music reframes his 1962 vision of nuclear nightmare. Others start dancing during “Spirit On the Water”’s lovely, Tin Pan Alley-style tune. On a “Ballad Of A Thin Man” sung with mind-melting echoes and “Like A Rolling Stone”, his old acid spite has become compassionate. This is beautiful, surprising, spacious music, composed in this form tonight.
Earlier on Saturday, as one of Dylan’s many acolytes, Patti Smith, tears open Van Morrison’s old R&B tune “Gloria”, she leans still, coolly holding a pose, then dives back into the song. Ian Hunter’s sandblasted voice sings his 1970s band Mott the Hoople’s rejuvenating anthem “All the Young Dudes”, during which Mott guitarist Mick Ralphs spirits in to solo.
During what feels like a homage to simpler early festivals, other veterans include George Clinton’s 17-piece Parliament-Funkadelic, re-energised along with their leader, unrecognisable with short hair and a blue Harlem kingpin’s suit. Sunderland’s Field Music offer exacting skinny white funk and fraternal harmonies, while fellow citizens the Futureheads jerk as if electric-shocked by slammed chords. Ray Davies sings “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” with pumped up punk antagonism to conformity. Friday’s happily challenging headliner Peter Gabriel conjures “Biko”’s prophetic, apartheid-licking flames, and Jung’s struggle with self-consciousness in “The Rhythm of the Heat”.
Among Sunday’s more recent stars, Richard Ashcroft decides “Bittersweet Symphony” is about “the demonisation of the white working-class”, flaying the Tories and the cuts, cracking his strong voice and reducing The Verve’s greatest hit to rubble, to bring it alive. Thoughts that Sunday headliner Suede’s Brett Anderson will be soberly middle-aged are scotched as he leaps into the crowd, wanting to be grabbed and adored. A new song, “For the Strangers”, needs work, but “Animal Nitrate”’s tale of council house gay sex retains its dirty, tough vigour, as Suede close this low-key, high-quality festival.
This article features Listen with Spotify
Arts & Ents blogs
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 'Something passed underneath us, quite close': Airbus A320 has close encounter with UFO
- 3 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.