About 3 weeks ago I went down to Kent to the Hop Farm Music Festival. Me and my friend headed down to London, but we didn't know the way, with being Northerners, and we ended up walking around Waterloo Station with heavy bags in over 20 degree heat and when we finally found the coach station, we'd missed our coach by 20 minutes. It drove us mad because we walked past that road in the first place, and if we'd walked that way to begin with we'd have made it. So we were stranded in London. A massive city, never been there before, and with thoughts of sleeping rough.
Luckily, my fiend had a stroke of genius. He said we could jump a train to Paddock Wood, Kent (£14 each), and then get a bus straight to Hop Farm. And we did! It was a long journey, I tore a muscle in my left shoulder, and we were both exhausted. We were 3 hours late, but that didn't matter. We set up our tents after I'd collapsed into the grass. I couldn't believe we'd walked so far, and for so long, through London, and I was sweating and in pain and we thought we wouldn't even get there.
After we set up our tents, we walked down to the main field - still knackered - and saw Blondie. Had some drinks and then saw Van Morrison in the evening. It was good, considering how tired we were. In the night we sat in the grass at the small acoustic stage on the campsite. I lied down and was talking nonsense as I looked up at the stars, I think I was talking about reincarnation. I suppose it was interesting to hear me talk like that, though as people said sorry as they stepped over me, they must have thought I was on something.
Next day my shoulder was so painful. But we had to do what we came to do, which was get as close to the stage as possible to see Bob Dylan. We got to the main field around 12 or 1, and watched a guy called Johnny Flynn, then The Magic Numbers, and as each act finished, and people scattered to the toilet or bar, we moved forward, and held our place. Pete Docherty did an acoustic set. Laura Marling (who has sang in Noah and the Whale with Johhny Flynn). Mumford & Sons were very good, as was Seasick Steve.
By now were were quite close, and couldn't risk moving from our spot (not that we could without squeezing through). It was kind of claustrophobic, I sat down when I could. The heat was immense. There was warnings about covering up and drinking water. I had my hat and the t-shirt I'd bought was round my neck. Unfortunately, I'd left my bottle of water on the ground and someone had kicked it.
Ray Davies from The Kinks came on and was amazing and everyone wanted him to sing Lola, which he did last. Then we moved forward one last time as he finished and we must have been about 10 feet away from the stage. I was feeling too good and there was no room at all to sit down. It was ridiculous. I stretched my legs (and I think I kicked someone behind me) so the blood would flow properly - I didn't want to faint. Bob Dylan took ages to come on, there was a weird voice over talking instead of music as his roadies set up.
Then he came on. He was amazing. I'd seen him twice before, but this was the closest I'd ever been to him. And, as my friend said, the closest we will ever get to him. I think he is the best musician in the world, and always has been the greatest lyricist. He is a living legend and I couldn't keep my eyes off him - until camera began to block my view. A bunch of girls behind me were short and could't see and tried to look over my shoulder - which I didn't mind- until I felt a hand on my torn, left shoulder.
He began with Rainy Day Women (Everybody Must Get Stoned). It was hard to know what he was singing, because he changes the sound all the time, I still liked it, though. We all sang along to Just Like A Woman. At the end, he finished the set with Like A Rolling Stone, which sent everyone crazy, including myself, screaming the lyrics into the Kentish sky. His encore was Forever Young, which means a lot to me, not that it's my favourite Dylan song, but that it was the first Dylan song I heard, and I love that song. We all sang it the way he did on Planet Waves, and he sang it his way nonetheless.
Rainy Day Women # 12 & 35
Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
Just Like A Woman
Honest With Me
Simple Twist Of Fate
High Water (for Charlie Patton)
Blind Willie McTell
Highway 61 Revisited
Workingman's Blues #2
Thunder On The Mountain
Ballad Of A Thin Man
Like A Rolling Stone