Music: Prince at Hop Farm

The plan to head down to Hop Farm festival yesterday was hatched during a drunken conversation at a party on Friday night whereby the general consensus of the conversation was how good Prince was and wouldn’t we all love to see him. This was when someone piped up that he was headlining Hop Farm festival on Sunday and tickets were still available. This highlights the best thing about Hop Farm: it’s not a commercially sponsored festival and it isn’t advertised so not many people know about it. However this leads us on the the worst thing about Hop Farm: it’s very expensive as a result.

It was too late to worry about this though as I had already drunkenly put it on my credit card so on Sunday me and my boyfriend caught a bus from Kings Cross and found ourselves in the festival grounds within an hour. Another good thing about the festival, it doesn’t have the manic crowds of most the others.

This year was the fourth Hop Farm and is run by Vince Power who has had major roles in festivals including Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds. Sick of the growing commercialisation of festivals, Power decided to set Hop Farm up to show that you didn’t need the big corporate machines to have a great festival and has succeeded in booking legendary acts such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and this year Iggy Pop, Morrisey and Prince. He is even taking the success of Hop Farm as inspiration to revive the Phoenix festival, which crumbled under financial strain some years ago.

Hop Farm has proved that your punters don’t need to be constantly assaulted by Vodafone, T-Mobile and Orange in order to raise the funds for a good festival. However, in my opinion, Powers has missed out the very thing that makes boutique and less commercial festivals so amazing and that’s the atmosphere and attention to detail that you find at festivals like Secret Garden Part and Latitude. My friends who camped all weekend complained that the campsite was too quiet and there wasn’t anything to do when the music ended. I found myself a little uninspired by the plain layout and missed having cute little areas to sit down or do activities in. Also note to Powers – a few more toilets wouldn’t have been a bad thing as that was the only thing there were queues for!

But all of these points are mute because Hop Farm had a certain something that no other UK festival will have this summer. Hop Farm had Prince and by the ravings on Twitter it seems that everyone agreed with me that this was the best festival headliner I have ever seen! As my friend so subtly put it, “Now Michael Jackson is dead, Prince is the biggest superstar in the world.” All I can say is the man can dance, was note perfect, engaged the crowd and has a surprising sense of humour. Like Jackson, Prince is in control of every element of his show. If a guitar or mic needed to be tweaked, he would say it, all the while entertaining the crowd. He wouldn’t let us stop. If he still had energy, so should we and we left absolutely exhausted.

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