Bob Dylan - Hop Farm 2012 review
'Highlights from a career spanning five decades'
John Bownas - 01 July 2012
He’s provided the soundtrack to numerous cultural and political revolutions and has been one of the most prolific
and original songwriters of the last forty-odd years.
So just when did Bob Dylan become incidental music to a baby-pink sunset?
Hop Farm Saturday is a busier and more crowded affair by far than yesterday’s Peter Gabriel-headlined line-up, but, oddly, it seems to be Dylan’s appearance on the main stage that heralds the start of some early departures.
It’s as if middle-England had bought their tickets, been there, got the t-shirt, and now felt it was OK to slope off and simply be able to say on Monday morning back at the office: “I was there.”
So, while there’s a hardcore crowd between the mixing desk and the stage, beyond that everything thins out, and overall there is a lack of any real sense of thrill or excitement.
Perhaps that’s because everyone simply knows exactly what to expect? Perhaps getting loaded to Primal Scream on the second stage is just too appealing?
Three are certainly no real surprises to be had here; just a stream of songs marking out a career that spans five decades.
‘Baby Blue’ was always going to be a crowd pleaser, and here it is, right up front in the set.
‘Things Have Changed’ might not be Dylan’s best known or most popular song, but it did win a Golden Globe for best original song - back in the days when these things mattered,
And for ‘Blood On The Tracks’ fans, ‘Tangled up in Blue’ is a no-brainer to get the crowd up on its feet.
But still people are leaving the arena – a steady stream, who simply head for the exit and don’t even seem interested in checking out New Orders’ Peter Hook or Primal Scream as viable alternatives to what is rapidly becoming a master class in pub-blues riffs.
‘Love Sick’ is one of Dylan’s more recent numbers, taken from his thirtieth (yes, 30th!!) studio album released back in 2006.
But these newer songs stand even less chance of holding people’s attention, and whilst this and the slow honky-tonk rhythms of ‘Spirit on the Water‘ (another recent 2006 recording) are credibly viable for inclusion on the evening’s setlist, neither has too much to offer in terms of being festival winners.
So Dylan soldiers on, rearranging his band on the stage every few songs and regrouping his forces with a solid collection of flag-waving standards to wrap up the night, including ‘A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall’, ‘Highway 61’, ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and a rousing rendition of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ to close.
But nothing can stop the inexorable depletion of the crowd, and whether it’s a planned move or not, the band finally leaves the stage at least 15 minutes earlier than most people had expected and whilst there was still light in the sky.
Click here for our full Hop Farm Festival coverage.
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