The Hop Farm is a new festival in Kent. It is not far from where I live in Blackheath in London, but it would have been difficult to get to if I hadn't got a lift there. The day itself was great with a brilliant atmosphere, but the weather was terrible. It rained for a good percentage of it, including during some of Neil Young's set. I didn't see Neil at his two recent gigs at the Hammersmith Apollo during his recent 'Chrome Dreams 2' tour as I refused to pay the almost £80 ticket price, even though I knew it would be worth every penny.

Needless to say, when my girlfriend and I got there it was already muddy. We missed the first few opening acts, but we saw Rufus Wainwright who delivered a good solid set, accompanying himself with either just his guitar or a piano. Supergrass also did the business, while the second headliners, Primal Scream, shocked me as they played a decent 54 minute set in which Bobby Gillspie actually for once sang the songs and made an effort, rather then doing his usual trick of getting wasted and dancing all night. Sadly there are now only two original members left in the band, but their set was nevertheless a decent mix of greatest hits and tracks from their then unreleased new album, 'Beautiful Future', which I have been unable to stop playing since it came out.

Neil Young came on at 9.05 p.m. when it was still light. On stage in the lights in the background were the letters P, X,G,E,N, U, G,E,M, 1,9,3,Y,A. I didn't know what it meant and would suspect that noone else in the crowd did either. Neil is someone you either love or hate, but all the 30,000 people standing in the rain at the Hop Farm were definitely in the latter category. This was only the third time I had seen him live, but every time it has been in the open, and twice it has absolutely pissed down.

My girlfriend hinted at how old he now looks, but he carries his weight around on stage with more grace than any young band out there. He played for just under two hours, and it was pure magic. While it was predominantly a set of grunge flavoured rock, he also played an acoustic set in the middle as well.

After being crushed during Primal Scream, my girlfriend decided she couldn't do that for Neil as well. In the end she only watched 30 minutes or so of Neil as standing in a field in the rain isn't really her thing. So sadly I was in the couples section half way back, with couples chatting through most of the set. If that was not bad enough, the rain didn't know whether to start or stop, and then on top of that the wind was blowing the sound around so much at times that Neil was almost inaudible.

The set included 'I've Been Waiting for You' from his first self-titled solo album which was released back in 1968, and also the classic 'Heart of Gold', 'The Needle and Damage Done' and a 10 minute plus 'Words', all from his 1972 'Harvest album . While he also aired 'Spirit Road'and 'Dirty Old Man' from 'Chrome Dreams 2', this gig could have at points taken place at any time in the last thirty five years.

After the main set, Neil came back on and played just one song, a cover of the Beatles, 'A Day in the Life', which lasted for 15 minutes, and which was played in a very psychedelic style.

A great show. Just a pity about the rain and the wind !


Primal Scream Set List :

Can't Go Back
Dolls
Jailbird
Beautiful Future.
I'm losing More then I Ever Had
Suicide Bomb
Beautiful Summer
Shoot Speed/Kill Light
Swastika Eyes
Rocks
Moving On Up


Neil Young Set List :

Love and Only Love
Hey, Hey, My, My.
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
I've Been Waiting for You
Spirit Road
Fuckin' Up
Lonesome Me
Mother Earth
The Needle and Damage Done
Unknown Legend
Heart of Gold
Dirty Old Man
Get Back to the Country
Words
No Hidden Path

Encore :

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