August 2011

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16 great tracks, featuring Eddie Cochran, Bo Diddley, Link Wray, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and more

Last July, Bob Dylan headlined the Hop Farm festival on the hottest day of the year with perhaps his best UK performance since the great Wembley Arena shows of October 2000.

A little shy of 12 months later, and a few weeks after celebrating his 70th birthday, Dylan played the inaugural Feis festival in London’s Finsbury Park on a day of relentless rain. When it wasn’t merely drizzling, it was pouring. Nevertheless, the miserable downpour failed to dampen spirits soon being typically lifted by The Gaslight Anthem’s set of by now well-worn festival favourites, mostly drawn from The ’59 Sound and American Slang. By the end, even people who’d never heard them before were singing along as if they’d been listening to these songs for just about forever, if not a little longer.

With The Cranberries due next on the main stage, it seemed opportune to check out what was happening elsewhere. This involved an arduous trek across the mud to a far corner, where Shane MacGowan was playing in a tent that turned out to be too packed to get into. What I could hear from the back of a noisy throng sounded like a happy shambles, with Shane barely decipherable above a din the crowd inside the tent clearly couldn’t get enough of. Shane’s bedraggled, toothless appearance seemed to put the wind up a few of the photographers I spoke to who were astonished he’d made it through his set without falling over, but he remains uncommonly loved.

It’s 9.15 when Dylan punctually appears, dapper and keen to get on with things, which he does with a sprightly