near Paddock Wood, United Kingdom

Hop Farm Festival

July 3, 2010

[Paul Carvajal], [Joe Neanor] [Martin Gayford], [Mr. Jinx], [Fran Scott], [Gordon Dow], [Trevor Townson]

Review by Paul Carvajal

Dylan performed a powerful show of sheer genius at Hop Farm.  The  
quality was consistent from the time the band filed on like the troupe  
of master professionals they are till the time they lined up with the  
song and dance man and filed off.  Dylan is clearly the band leader  
and plays the organ like he’s mixing up the palette.  The relationship  
between him and his band communicated through glances and subtle hand  
movements was utterly fluent.  It was all professionalism and artistry  
at the highest level.  Your just not going to see anything like it  
anywhere else.  He nailed it all straight last night and was in full  
command of all his techniques.  His voice was sharp, precise and  
powerful, stretching, twisting, punctuating and modulating words to  
pack them with expression.  The ravaged vocal quality he has used in  
his late (he says middle) period deepened the texture and colour of  
his core poetic themes of mortality, fate, suffering and love.  He  
combined this richly expressive vocal delivery with equally expressive  
physical movements and gestures, another innovation of his late  
period.  When he came to the front and stood with the mic for Ballad  
of a Thin Man, Blind Willie McTell, High Water (for Charley Patton)  
and Workingman’s Blues the performance became dramatic theatre.  With  
precision of voice and gesture he foregrounded the elements of the  
songs that function like a screenplay and led us through the dialogue,  
vignettes and images in a way that was almost cinematic.  Texture,  
atmosphere and dramatic force were also powerfully conveyed by his  
remarkable harmonica playing, fully extending the potential of this  
instrument.  Musically and poetically Dylan is a master of the  
traditions of American folk, blues and country music, what he has  
called having the ‘blood of the land’ in his voice.  It also remains  
true that he rocks like no-one else.  Yesterday we heard the blood of  
the land in his unique wild mercury sound.  I stood with my sons for  
twelve hours in a dense crowd in intense heat to see the man close.   
We did the quest and we saw the shaman.


Review by Joe Neanor

To the Hop Farm Festival in Kent, the Garden of England, for Bob's only UK
show of the summer tour on a lovely fine evening, about as good as gets
around here.  As might be expected, given the name of the venue, the show
took place in a very large field.  It was pleasing to see large screens
either side of stage - these had been so lacking last year when Bob played
the cavernous London O2 venue.  Disappointingly, there were to be no close
ups of Bob. For some reason throughout the show the picture was a fixed
camera shot showing pretty much the breadth of the stage with no variation
that I noticed.  This resulted in Stu Kimball never seeming to be in shot at
all, not at least when I glanced at the screen.   I had a reasonable, if a
tight, side on view of Bob tonight. This was at the cost of not being able to
see any of the other musicians apart from the occasional glimpse of Charlie
Sexton.  Glancing at the big screen gave the wider picture, except for the
visually absent Stu Kimball.  The sound system was impressive.

A strong, and at times, compelling performance from Bob and his band.
Charlie Sexton is clearly on Bob's musical wavelength and, although a bit
over the top at times in the way he moves around the stage, he adds
something to the show.  A flying start with a bouncing Everybody Must Get
Stoned.  This was followed by a nice bright, guitar pinging, version of
Don't Think Twice and then a blistering Stuck Inside of Mobile. Bob sang
Just Like A Woman, like he wrote it yesterday,  bringing out nuances. Next
came a swirling Honest With Me. In A Simple Twist of Fate Bob seemed to
fluff a line but this is forgivable as it was performed, like  many songs
tonight, away from his keyboard and lyric sheets, facing the crowd from the
centre of the stage.  Next came the highlights of show for me - great renditions
of High Water (for Charlie Patton) and a majestic Blind Willie McTell, both
featured wonderful harmonica solos. Highway 61 changed the mood, seeming to
career along at breakneck speed. This was followed by Working Mans Blues, such a
gentle but powerful song. Bob delivered the line "If you want to look into my
eyes please do" from the centre of stage with arms open. Thunder On The
Mountain, with him back behind the keyboard, picked up the tempo again. Ballad
Of A Thin Man saw Bob returning to centre stage, jabbing his free hand towards
the audience between harmonica solos. Like A Rolling Stone was sung  with energy
and purpose, Bob turning sideways from his keyboard to engage with the audience.
Forever Young closed the show, sung from centre stage, to what seemed to me, a
mainly young audience.

At times watching the show it was all a bit of a squash and squeeze, with
some people who should have known better, losing their rag with younger
members of the audience who had had one drink too many.  But worse was to
come - it took me about an hour and a half to get out of the car park and I had
parked near the exit.

Joe Neanor


Review by Martin Gayford

Bob was great last night at Hop Farm.  Standing with my sons on my shoulders,
Forever Young almost had me blubbing.  Partly because of the 25 years I've 
known the song, and partly the significance of hearing it with my sons, but also 
the sweetness  with which Bob sang it.  He sang Ballad Of A Thin Man with a 
level of emotion that I haven't heard from him for a few years.  The guitar and 
organ playing was typically erratic, and obviously no acoustic guitar playing this
time.  His harp playing was spectacular on some songs, High Water Everywhere
especially.  His voice was rough - obviously - but the strength of feeling he put 
into some songs raised them above the average croakiness.  Personally, I'd love 
to see a whole show of Bob with just mike and harp.  The freedom he seems
to have away from the keyboard, and even guitar, result in superlative
performances.  From where we were standing, some songs sounded mumbled 
and muddy, but even an uneven Bob show is good if it has highlights like 
Ballad Of A Thin Man last night.  


Review by Mr. Jinx


Resplendent in a vivid, livid pink shirt, dark suit and white hat, Dylan took
the stage to a mighty roar from twenty thousand souls gathered on a hop farm in
deepest Kent.  Festival flags flying and the odd Chinese lantern floating
overhead in the twilight, the band launched with gusto into Rainy Day Women.   

It soon became apparent that something was ‘happening here’.  Dylan abandoned
the keyboard after just a couple of verses, strode over to the side of the
stage, picked up his guitar and spent the rest of the song stage front as the
crowd bellowed the refrain into the deepening blue skies.

Indeed, stage centre was where Dylan staked his territory for most of the night.
 Song after song he returned to the spot, either plucking guitar, blowing harp
like a bastard or singing, hands outstretched like a turn of the century,
end-of-pier entertainer.

Simple Twist of Fate was an early highlight, Dylan trading licks with a wired
looking Charlie Sexton.  It was a gorgeous arrangement.  The nagging riff
bouncing between the two men like a crazy ping-pong ball.  Then there was the
pugilists’ heavyweight double punch of High Water and Blind Willie McTell.  Here
Dylan was at his most commanding, rasping the lines and skipping over the words
like a stone dancing across the surface of a clear lake.

It was harp, though, that proved to be Dylan’s main mode of communication during
the show.  I can honestly say that in the 43 shows I have witnessed on the NET I
have never heard him so connected with his instrument.   He returned to it time
and again, sometimes to ‘re-sing’ the song after the vocal was gone (as in Just
Like A Woman), sometimes to punctuate individual lines of a song with a machine
gun rat-a-tat.  It was a master class of expression.   The reeds of the voice
and the reeds of the harp joining forces, united in the assault. Workingman’s
Blues was a show-stopper, jaw-dropper.  With each new verse the emotion
accumulated until it was an unstoppable torrent. ‘If I told you my whole story
you’d weep,’ sang Dylan.  No need, Bobby, I’m already dabbing my eyes!

The main set ended with an unfeasibly authoritative Ballad of a Thin Man.  I
have heard this one sung vengefully (as I did at Barrowland in 2004) but here it
was sung as a communal sharing of a truth.  The Mr Joneses (wherever they may
be) were well and truly rumbled and the beaming smiles of those around me in the
crowd bore testimony to the power of the performance (and the victory over
Philistinism contained in the message).  ‘Yeaahhhhh, Bobbbbbyyyyyyyy!!!!’

Returning for a blistering Like a Rolling Stone, ably assisted by the baying
mob, Dylan just had time to offer his great communal benediction Forever Young
before standing at the line-up and filing away with the band stage right. I
won’t bore you with tales of traffic chaos in the fields as we tried to leave,
suffice it to say I could have done with a SUV and some crash bars.  If you were
the Mr Jones driving the dark blue Mercedes that cut me up on leaving field 33 I
wish you good luck with your life and safe motoring.

As for Dylan at the hop farm: what a fantastic night!  I was so proud that Kent
(the county of my birth) gave Bob a fantastic reception and the fact that he
reciprocated with a top-draw performance only made the day sweeter. May God
bless and keep . . . etc.

Mr Jinx


Review by Fran Scott

Magnificent. Words cannot describe what a joy it was to hear Bob singing
his heart out last night. His set was excellent from beginning to end
and Workingman's Blues was delivered with a tenderness that left me
misty-eyed. Blind Willie McTell was terrific and a sincere performance
of Forever Young closed the show.

The stage was in a large field, in front of the Hop Farm buildings which
included some eye-catching Oast-Houses overlooking the backstage area.
The afternoon leading up to the show was gloriously hot and sunny and
the festival attendees were a real mix - teenagers, parents, older
couples, kids, small groups of men in their fifties / sixties, younger
folk. The crowd for Dylan's performance were knowledgeable and
enthusiastic on the whole, from my position during the encores - around
50 yards from the stage - most people, young and old, had their hands
aloft and sang along to the chorus of Like a Rolling Stone with huge

My impression is that Bob raises his game at the bigger venues, he seems
to sing harder and put more energy into the delivery knowing that his
voice has to reach further. While this doesn't necessarily translate
into a better overall performance (and is somewhat tempered by the
reluctance to afford those at the back a decent view of proceedings on
the giant screens if these are used at all), last night it combined with
a judicious setlist and a European Tour which by many informed accounts
has seen Dylan in wonderful form, to produce a really special concert.

Fran Scott


Review by Gordon Dow

This was the fourth time I've seen Bob in recent years. Maybe it's just 
the advancing years (ie mine) but I often have difficulty making out 
which song it is he's singing. It's always with grateful thanks that the 
following day I access this web site to get the set list. And what do I 
discover today - he sang Blind Willie McTell last night!! One of my 
favourite Dylan songs and I never even knew he was singing it! I have to 
say he did appear to engage more with his audience than on recent dates, 
I think I even saw him smile at one point. But why oh why did he (or his 
management) insist on turning off most of the cameras for the large 
video screens? There was only one static camera fixed on a view of the 
stage, no close-ups at all whereas with earlier acts there had been 
several cameras operating. This is so unfair on people standing further 
back who have paid good money to see the man. When I've attended 
previous Dylan shows in large auditoria, I've always regretted the lack 
of video screens and assumed this was down to penny-pinching on behalf 
of Dylan or his management. But now it's clear that it must be some wish 
of Dylan himself not to have any sort of active video presentation. It's 
as if he goes out of his way to cock a snoop at his audience. To me, his 
on-stage diction is awful and if the truth be told, all the songs tend 
to sound much the same (I realise I'm out of kilter with the other 
reviews on this board). Contrast a Dylan concert with one by Leonard 
Cohen - the latter goes out of his way to give his audience their 
money's worth - good camera work, excellent lighting, crystal-clear 
delivery of the songs, interaction with the audience.

A real pity.

Gordon Dow


Review by Trevor Townson

AWFUL GOOD is an oxymoron, basically a contradictory figure of speech of which
we have lots. In fact in the case of AWFUL GOOD we even have alternatives as
well such as AWFUL NICE and AWFUL PRETTY. 

I believe AWFUL GOOD is the oxymoron that suits Bob Dylan. By using the oxymoron
AWFUL GOOD everything can be summed up in review FAIRLY ACCURATE to suit
everyone by saying things like the concert was AWFUL GOOD, Bobs singing was
AWFUL GOOD, the venue was AWFUL GOOD, the guitarists were AWFUL GOOD, the set
list was AWFUL GOOD. 

Languages are not my strong point so I do not know if you can get an oxymoron
outside of the English or AMERICAN ENGLISH languages. I know that in English we
are still creating new ones, take for example NO - GOOD DO - GOODER. I cannot
however believe that the German language could have anything so ambiguous as an
oxymoron and in some other languages like Finnish for example both awful and
good would average sixteen characters each so they are not going to be so
wasteful of page as to use an oxymoron when they can just say it as it is.

I am ABSOLUTELY UNSURE but oxymoron use must be unique to English which makes it
even more remarkable how so many of the worlds population can speak, write and
understand what can in fact be complete nonsense, A FINE MESS. Some of you may
however AGREE TO DISAGREE but surely as an oxymoron is a contradiction by doing
a review using as many of them as possible this is bound to leave everyone
reading the review CLEARLY CONFUSED.

A festival from past PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE would be my LEAST FAVOURITE choice of
venue to be going to ALL ALONE. Bound to be too many proper music lovers around
to interrupt my LONERS CLUB outing and no doubt some AGING YUPPIE types too
sporting HEALTHY TANS plus all the usual inconveniences to cope with such as no

It was ALMOST EXACTLY 12.15 on the day of the show as I locked the door before
setting off on the drive to Kent arriving to park up in a field about half a
mile from the stage just before 5.00pm. Other people were still arriving and
parking up at that time but I was certainly among the tail enders. I must
however have had a much easier entry to the event than I am sure would have been
the case earlier in the day as the marshals were by this time just sitting there
DOING NOTHING as they waved me through as fast as it was sensible for me to go
whilst driving in an unmodified saloon car across dusty rough tracks and fields
to reach my parking spot.

The day was still hot at that time with the sun high in the sky and little or no
shade to be found anywhere. There were a lot of people there of all ages and
type and as is becoming more the norm the audiences seem to be getting younger
and younger all the time. Maybe a Time Out Of Mind moment and it is more a case
of me realizing more and more that it is me becoming older.

These younger people are however still into Bob and not just in a Greatest Hits
way. I may not have had to queue for the car park but boy did I have to queue
for refreshment. Whilst standing in line next to one such young couple the girl
starts softly singing a Bob song but no it was not "everybody must get stoned"
or "like a rolling stone" but "lay down your weary tune". I kid you not but we
were GOING NOWHERE just standing in line in that queue for what must have been
the full Mumford & Sons set. Really it was that long a wait and a cause of GREAT
DEPRESSION as we stood there with all of us looking and feeling HALF DEAD by the
time of getting served.

I had a really good view as I had managed to position myself at a fairly CLOSE
DISTANCE considering the size of the crowd and my late arrival time. As I stood
ALONE IN THE CROWD a group of young people beside me are waiting
enthusiastically and chatting about Bob and previous times that they had seen
him and how he had been then. I knew they were going to see some changes in him
but even I was taken a little aback by his performance so it must be ALMOST SAFE
for me to say that they must have been absolutely blown away by it.

Prior to the show starting during the spoken monologue introduction that was
being played whilst setting up the stage the young people were chatting
constantly among them selves in the way young people do jumping around in
ORDERLY CONFUSION from subject to subject on all manner of Bob related issues.
One issue being the spoken monologue which was apparently to them Bob speaking
during his Theme Time Radio show. One young guy concluded that Bob is   mad then
within a couple of breaths he was being re termed a genius. On them hearing
Andrew Lloyd Weber overplaying the monologue there was talk of gosh how naff is
that which rapidly turned into wow that is super cool because it was Bob Dylan
including it in his radio show! 

Out of the mouths of babes hey, that must probably be referring to vomit as that
is all that seemed to come out of the mouths of mine as I recall. It was however
quite amusing at times hearing some of their INSANE LOGIC and various thoughts
and opinions on things as I stood beside them just ACTING NATURALLY and making
NO COMMENT as I listened in to them as they were turning all manner of things on

AMONG THE FIRST gems of the night was Don't Think Twice which had been included
towards the FRONT END of the set list and one young guy just could not believe
he was seeing Bob playing guitar as he was telling everyone how he had never
seen that before even having seen Bob four times previously. You could tell that
people were already becoming CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC that this could be a really
great show.

At one stage I thought Bob was not going to include any harmonica at all but
when he eventually did boy did he include it particularly during a superb High
Water then during a fantastic Blind Willie McTell, both of which were REAL
MAGIC. It could not have been MORE PERFECT as he played harmonica through the
WHOLE HALF of each of them. So from what at one time seemed to be that there
would be a HUGH SHORTAGE of harmonica included the balance quickly changes
otherwise. In my review for Barcelona I said Bob had done High Water as good as
it gets at that show but I have been proved wrong already as he did it even
better here.

With Bob you are always getting CONSTANT CHANGE and therefore ANTICIPATING THE
UNANTICIPATED all the time due to him being CONSISTANTLY INCONSISTANT but I was
ALMOST SURPRISED to get a new arrangement of Simple Twist Of Fate the opening of
which left even me wondering what it was going to be as I for one was CERTAINLY
UNSURE what was coming. To two young ladies by my side though it really made
their night as they just stood cuddling each other all the way through once they
had picked up on what song it was, yet again A NEW CLASSIC was born.

That NEW AND IMPROVED performance now being given to Ballad Of A Thin Man had
Bob patting the lapels of his jacket with his hands and you could sense that
even Bob knew that he was giving an outstanding performance and this one in
particular had certainly been delivered BETTER THAN NEW. 

Bobs performance this night was nothing short of outstanding and he was no
longer looking like the same guy I had seen late 2009 in Chicago, he was not
even the same guy I had seen earlier on in this tour. Bob gave easily the best
guitar performance I have ever seen from him as confidence was there in every
thing he did and it really came through and not just in his guitar but
everything else too. Just how much further BEYOND INFINITY can this guy go but
it looks like he must be ALMOST READY to do so now and you would put your self
at CERTAIN RISK if you are still a DOUBTING BELIEVER at this stage.

FINALLY AGAIN it is time to close as Bob has ONCE AGAIN created yet another
piece of FUTURE HISTORY for his followers, that GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS termed
fans. ALMOST DONE now but just time to say it is never an EASY TASK to review
but I will have an EDUCATED GUESS and say that no one would have found Bobs set
at this show BRILLIANTLY DULL. 

Bob really was going to be leaving that stage tonight to CRITICAL ACCLAIM as in
no way could anything he had delivered be termed BORING ENTERTAINMENT. I do
accept that there is always a place for CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM but let us turn a
BLIND EYE to that as neither could possibly apply in the case of this particular
show. Call me a WISE FOOL if you like but I thought it was awful GOOD, in fact I
thought that it was very, very, very awfully GOOD.

ALMOST TOTALLY done now but one last thought when finished in order to protect
the environment a little bit, could you all please CLICK THE START BUTTON TO

This reviewing is almost becoming a FULL-TIME HOBBY. Anyway, NEARLY COMPLETE now
and I hope that you all found this one as CLEAR AS MUD. Probably by the time
that you read this it will be OLD NEWS but no matter as it is only about a
little piece of CLASSIC ROCK & ROLL from a guy who is thankfully very much alive
and with us today and who the youngsters very affectionately love as mad genius
Bob. This may have been a festival show with a reduced set list but at the end
of the day please do not CLEARLY MISUNDERSTAND me here as what I am trying to
say is that the performance Bob gave at the Hop was not just AWFULL GOOD it was

Trevor Townson


Click Here
to return to the
Main Page

page by Bill Pagel

Tour Guide
Tour Guides
Bob Links
Set Lists
by Date
Set Lists
by Location