This sounds familiar. It’s a blast of Aaron Copeland’s “Hoedown”, a loud orchestral stirring the faithful many here tonight recognise immediately as the taped introduction to his shows he’s been using now for at least the last 10 years that still never fails to thrill and make you also laugh out loud. The voice of his long-time tour manager, Al Santos, follows, mock-serious.


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When I get to Hop Farm on Saturday still blessed-out on memories of Van Morrison’s set the night before, I find it a very different place.


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Like the many thousands who will eventually be here this evening, I’m still on my way to the Hop Farm when Los Lobos play, which is why when I get there, the band’s David Hidalgo, instrumental star of the last two Bob Dylan albums, is already in the hospitality bar, deep in conversation with a couple of confederates. Things moving to a strict schedule here and people going on surprisingly early means I’ve also missed Dr John and have in fact made it just in time for Blondie, who have just stepped out on the main stage to a great cheer.


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The week’s gone by at such a clip, we’re nearly at the end of it and I still haven’t, I’ve just realised, written about this show, which was frankly too good to let pass without comment, however belated.


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The first thing you would have noticed arriving in Hyde Park last Frday to see Pearl Jam is how many more people there appear to be than were here for last year’s Hard Rock Calling weekend, the size of the crowd, a hint of mob surliness and the press of people at the front of the stage something of a concern later for a visibly worried Eddie Vedder. It’s almost 10 years to the day, after all, since nine Pearl Jam fans were crushed to death during the band’s performance on June 30, 2000, at the Rosskilde festival, over there in Denmark. No wonder at one point he looks so rattled.


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When Ryan Sambol, who frankly looks like he hasn’t slept since beds were invented, asks if we want to hear another new song the only people in a packed Borderline who perhaps aren’t sure they do at this particular point are his band, Austin’s The Strange Boys.


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What would Murdoc make of it? Previously, Gorillaz live performances have seen the “real” musicians play anonymously behind a curtain. But not tonight. If anything, tonight’s show abandons the notion of Gorillaz as a “virtual band” altogether. It seems more about establishing Damon Albarn’s overdue re-emergence as a front man, after spending close to a decade in the background on a number of collaborative projects, from Mali Music to The Good, The Bad And The Queen and Gorillaz.


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A packed Borderline gets suitably rowdy later on, when Port O’Brien turn in a surprisingly rocking set. For the moment, though, the crowd’s hushed. Walking in on Laura Gibson, mid-song, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop. People are hanging on her every word, their muted quiet close to something like reverence.


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Because, as I have just had pointed out to me, I have foolishly mistakenly read their name as MegaFUN, when the three members of MegaFAUN hove into view, led by a large bearded man with a banjo and a big grin, I somewhat feared they would prove to be relentlessly hearty, the distressing musical equivalent of bouncy castles, red noses, playground japes, a particularly unwelcome wackiness. The kind of jollity, in other words, that makes you want to run screaming from its larkish presence.


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Joe Pug? No, I hadn’t heard of him either, before he opened tonight for The Low Anthem. Count me as a fan now, though. Pug’s a potentially major song-writing talent, as evidenced on his Nation Of Heat EP, available online and really quite brilliant. But who exactly is he?


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Editor's Letter

The 46th (And Last) Playlist Of 2014


Sorry I didn't manage to post a playlist last week; a combination of germs, deadlines and various other professional/seasonal distractions meant that I ran out of time.

Here, though, is our last office list of 2014, with lots of strong new entries. A few highlights...