Live Music + Gig Reviews

Hop Farm Festival 2011: Part 2 @ Hop Farm Country Park, Paddock Wood

3 July 2011

Sundays line up in some ways goes to show why guitar music struggles against pop.

Aloe Blacc opens with a suitably breezy set of soul compositions, yet his music shimmers genuinely. Theres gravel and political comment to his music; he wants to use his voice. Oppositely Eliza Doolittle, despite her tight live band, could be singing a Now Thats What I Call Music compilation. These songs carry no message and are rather just an opportunity to skip about a stage and wave.

In the Bread and Roses stage, Brightons Tall Ships seem to be sculpting something new. As a three-piece the multi-instrumental outfit chug out hardcore music that morphs and is twisted into dance music through sample pedals and an ear for melody thats deft and majestic. Noise is forced to hold hands with a compulsion for movement. When done with such sincerity, guitar music can be said to be moving forward with confidence.

Add to the list of Brighton indie pioneers represented here The Go! Team, who follow on the second stage with their answer to Iggy Pop, front lady Ninja, who starjumps and power leaps unstoppably. After a four-year gap its all the more impressive that the band have come back with easily their strongest material, a mosaic that again threads destruction into rhythmic constriction. The band sound ever more like Sonic Youth, but Sonic Youth playing Pizzicato Five, another unique proposition that will always have a place at festivals.

Tinie Tempah warms up for Prince. Thats all he can do really, for Prince closes the festival with the glamour and mystique of a pop alien, sending the audience temporarily to Mars to witness his gyrating amongst a predominantly female backing band of interstellar hippies.

To witness Prince live is to see a genuine legend. Not for his endless array if hits (which he is more than happy to recognise, as he interludes from Purple Rain into Kiss) but to witness a performer who clearly has never done anything else but music, who is still surrounded by music and music alone. Prince isnt afraid to run his hands through his hair and pull a pose, ask the crowd if he can take this one slow whilst simultaneously telling the sound engineer how to mix the sound. Youre in the right place now, he declares as Lets Go Wild becomes 1999 as he barks the monochromatic chord descension and takes the audience with him. For each song theres a segue, a series of chord progressions, tempo changes and jams that seamlessly thread into the next song. Flittering between hits, the New Power Generation follow effortlessly in tow. Whereas Lou Reed had to make his band to do as his says, Prince ensures that his band can do nothing but follow his lead tightly.

For both though, as with much of the music on show, but particularly with Prince, pop bands can create whole universes. Be them Reed, Smith and Iggy turning buildings and anger into poems or Prince making 30 years of commercial pop that has no earthly basis, this year Hope Farm provided a brand new festival experience.

  1. Hop Farm Festival 2011:
    Part 1 | Part 2

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