When Prince turns down Glastonbury and personally asks to play a small field in Kent as his first UK show in four years and Morrissey, Iggy, Lou and Patti decide they fancy a cream tea too Hop Farm became the festival you had to be at this summer.


With the Human League and The Eagles as today’s headliners, Friday was always going to be one for the rows upon rows in foldable camping chairs, picnic hampers rammed full Waitrose essentials and boxed wine. As the first sun of the weekend starts to pinken the sea of pale flesh by the main stage Death Cab For Cutie, one of the only non-Radio 2 friendly acts on the main stage today, radiate the same glow as the rays with tracks from their latest Codes And Keys as well as dropping fan-favourite, ‘Cath’.

Over in the Big Tent, The Walkmen’s lead singer Hamilton Leithauser swaggers onto the stage alone in a crisp clean cream suit before being joined by the rest of the band for a set that pulls tracks mainly from their latest album, Lisbon; ‘Angeles Surf City’ thudding beats chase the agony of Leithauser’s familial scratched scream, whilst ‘Blue Blood’s’ meandering chords are the calm in the eye of the storm. Relaxed in the dark surrounds of the tent, the band also revisit the chiming unbridled emotion of ‘In The New Year’ and treat us to a new song that crackles with the familial subtle musicality and deadbeat sneer that we’ve come to love and expect from New York’s finest. Baying to the relentless drunken heckles, ‘The Rat’ explodes the small crowd into a mosh pit before ‘We’ve Been Had’ brings the set to a serene close.

Back on the main stage Bryan Ferry is serenading the crowd and the blushing pink sunset over on the main stage with a mix of solo material and Roxy greatest hits including ‘Let’s Stick Together’, ‘Love Is The Drug’ and ‘Jealous Guy’’.

Decked out in Mark ‘You lied to me’ Morrison’s leather puffa jacket Phil Oakey barely peaks out of his hood as he stalks the Human League’s stark white set for their headline set, and that’s not the only disconnect the band have with the crowd tonight. Rather than a safe greatest hits set the band push out songs from their latest album, Credo; the half-baked politics and outdated 90s club house beats of new tracks ‘Egomaniac’ and dumb lyrics of ‘Night People’ aren’t up to scratch for a headline set. When the band finally delve into Dare it’s clear why Vince Power picked them to top the bill of tonight’s Big Tent; ‘Own Your Heart’, ‘Love Action’ and ‘Don’t You Want Me’ erupt as Joanne and Susan lead a mass-singalong and the encore of ‘Together in Electric Dreams’ thankfully erases the memories of Credo although nothing will erase the sheep-on-acid video that looped the big screen for, ‘Get Around Town’.


Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Iggy and Morrissey are all on today’s once in a lifetime bill, which makes it more disturbing that one of the first sounds drifting over the fields from the main stage today is Newton Faulkner having a crack a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Sidestepping Newton for the Bluetones, Mark Morris and co are playing to a bursting at the seams Big Tent revisiting the glory of ‘Slight Return’ and ‘If’, as well as sandwiching in a bit of ill-timed ‘Radio Ga Ga’. Will Moz have a go ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ later too?

Over on the main stage Howard Devoto is making no friends fronting Magazine, lecturing the crowd and cracking jokes about windows updates like a dad after one too many sherries in-between songs, the main stage seems to expansive for the band’s mechanical stand as ‘Because Your Frightened’ and ‘Motocade’ get lost across the field with ‘Shot By Both Sides’ even losing it’s magnitude.

Back at the Big Tent again and Graham Coxon is on top form with the righteous riffs of ‘Standing On My Own Again’ and ‘I Can’t Look At Your Skin’, whilst Patti Smith over on the main stage, accompanied by special guest violinist Patrick Wolf as well as long-term bandmate Lenny K, is also in surprisingly good spirits. ‘Beneath The Southern Cross’ sets the mood for a bewitching set as Patti implores everyone to “Use your voice, be proud, be free” in one of many inspirational speeches that stand in stark contrast to the Patti that first sneered out at us on the cover of ‘Horses’. It appears unfortunately that no-one is immune to the infectiousness of Adele as Patti preludes the ominous beat of ‘My Blakean Year’ with a strip down version of ‘Rolling In The Deep’. Saving the best until last, Patti declares “I’d like to dedicate this song for the fella I wrote it for, Fred Sonic Smith” before launching into an impassioned ‘Because The Night’ and closing with a triumphant rendition of ‘Gloria’.

Unlike the infectious beams of Patti and Graham, Lou Reed looks like he’s been chewing on an acid dipped wasp as he grimaces at the crowd and it’s becomes clear that Lou would probably rather be anywhere but in a field in Kent today. His solo tracks fall lacklustre and even when he does play Velvet’s songs ‘Sunday Morning’, ‘Femme Fatale’ and ‘Sweet Jane’ it’s tarnishes rather than enhances the memory of such a defining band - maybe he should’ve just stayed in the studio cementing his matrimony to James Hetfield. Luckily, Iggy Pop does what Iggy always does best: get half naked, enrage security by getting the crowd onstage and most importantly whipping out Fun House like the first day he slap the wet from behind its’ ears in 1970.

After his widely-criticised set at Glastonbury Morrissey takes to the stage you can feel the tension. Dressed in classic bellowing Smith’s white shirt, all fears are allayed as the familiar chords of Marr play-out for ‘I Want The One I Can’t Have’ and it doesn’t stop there as he follows it up with ‘You’re The One For Me Fatty’, ‘Shoplifters Of The World Unite’ and ‘Ouija Board’. Morrissey is in uncharacteristically high-spirits saying: “you’re present at the best musical festival of a lifetime and do whatever it takes to enjoy it” and going straight into a breathtakingly beautiful, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’. He even manages to take away the grim memories of Lou Reed as he plays a rousing cover of ‘Satellite Of Love’ before closing with a victorious, ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’.


It’s Sunday and there’s just one word on everyone’s lips, Prince. Forty minutes late and four years of anticipation and the Purple One doesn’t disappoint; decked out in a gold jumpsuit he takes to the stage with confidence as outlandish as his dress sense as the manic beat of ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ kicks-in. ‘Delirious’ keeps-up the momentum and goes into overdrive for a deafening ‘1999’. ‘Little Red Corvette’ reduces the pace and shows why Prince is one of the best performers this lifetime; the track is stripped back and slowed down as like a conductor he splits the crowd to sing effortlessly along to the track providing one of the stand-out moments of the festival.

Introducing ‘Nothing Compares 2U’ jokingly as “Sinead O’Connor’s song”, Prince duets with long-term backing band member Shelby-J and turns it from a into a feisty boy-girl stand-off. Although as expected he ignores his more risqué songs, the set shows the breadth of his back-catalogue as it’s still crammed with classics like ‘Raspberry Beret’ and the storming ‘U Got The Look’.

He seamlessly weaves covers in-between his own tracks throughout the show; playing Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop Until You Get Enough’ in the middle of ‘Cream’ and ‘Let’s Work’ as well as ‘Everyday People’ featuring Larry Graham before going into ‘Come Together’. Whilst all this sounds like an indulgent Vegas set what sets Prince and his band is their ability to connect with each other and the crowd and make it still seem current and fresh, even though you’re watching a man of 53 years old and four decades in the business break-dance on a purple piano.

Closing the set with ‘Purple Rain’ as clouds of purple confetti falling from the sky, it’s not long before he’s back onstage for one of three encores dancing in the spotlight for ‘Kiss’ followed by ‘Controversy’. Finally, after over two and a half hours on stage, three encores and the curfew finally approaching Prince exits the stage to ‘Baby You’re A Star’ and it’s clear he is.