Hop Festival, Faversham, Kent
added: 8 Sep 2013
// gig date: 31 Aug 2013
reviewer: Rob Barnett
The annual Hop festival rolled into town bringing two days of top live bands, morris dancers, hop rings on heads, and amiably bustling tudor streets. The festival celebrates the traditions of old, when out of towners descended on Kent to work the hop fields. Here and now and in its 24th year, the hops are indulged as fancy headwear, and guzzled by the pint courtesy of the local brewery and sponsors, Shepherd Neame.
As a brand new resident of the town (and county), I was afforded the luxury of strolling ten minutes to the heart of the weekend’s festivities. Without a plan, I entered the ‘hip’ hop hub via the acoustic stage. There, I was greeted by the cheery folk fiddling of the Atlantic Currents as they orchestrated smiles on faces and a bounce in the step.
I weaved through the crowds to the Market Place stage to check out Ben Jones and the Rifle Volunteers. Their confident mod-boogie-woogie-blues, paisley shirts and quirky banter didn’t disappoint. Reach Me from their album Shangri-la, and the Beatles Daytripper were highlights of a strong Cavern-esque set from a band to take note of.
The urge to get acquainted with the festival signature crop arrived swiftly, so with beer in hand, I checked out the offerings in the Alexander Centre. Inside I discovered young singer songwriter George Ogilvie warming hearts with his hauntingly beautiful voice and sensitive tones. He delighted with his unique take on Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, and a stunning version of Passenger’s Let Her Go.
Out on the Brewery Stage, Ricky Fleming entertained the enthusiastic and hearty crowd with his infectious brand of soul-folk. I could hear traces of Eagle-Eye Cherry and Tracey Chapman, and he duly followed his own rap heavy Maybe One Day (about wanting to be famous) with the classic Fast Car.
I filtered through the masses, and back via the acoustic stage where Adrian Nation was demonstrating effortless greatness with the intricate and mesmerising Heart Beats On - a more than fitting way for me to sign off until the next day’s treats.
Day two hit an instant peak, with the amazing one-man force of Funke and the Two Tone Baby. Funke, aka Daniel Turnbull, gave a remarkable solo performance, armed with a stomp box, loop machine, harmonica and guitar - the result, a rasping runaway train of electrifying bluesy-folk. The title track from his new album Battles, and the Rolling Stones’ Paint it Black ensured a rapturous finale.
Island Cassettes from Tonbridge Wells brought their crisp African-indie beat, and delivered a tight and cheerful splash of indoor sunshine. Check out the charming Navajo. On the Brewery Stage, Benzego, fronted by 2006 X Factor finalist Ben Mills, and backed with brass, were wooing the crowd with covers of One Step Beyond, I Want You Back, and Play that Funky Music.
And with award winning Coco and the Butterfields’ stomping ho-down fip fok (folk hip-hop fusion) bringing the Alexander Centre house down, I bid farewell to my debut hop festival experience with two certainties. Firstly, I would be back in 2014; and secondly, a knowledge that the quality of the acts and the festival vibe will, without doubt, be top of the crop.
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