Could this be the last Faversham Hop Festival? I hope not but whether the event survives the Tory years or not, I wouldn’t want to guess. Swale Borough Council (Tory, natch) pulled funding for the Festival meaning that the stallholders and participants had to sacrifice some of their income (this is the meaning of ‘the big society’ aka ‘small government’). One of the problems with public events these days is the horrendous cost of insurance (in a ‘risk society’ anything might lead to a big payout). As a result of all this the stalls were thinner on the ground and the Sunday parade was a short and bedraggled one. But there were still the bands. These were, as usual, mostly repertory (or original material in some existing paradigm: ‘grunge’, ‘folk’, ‘metal’ &c). Often the music was exciting enough for this not to matter. Early Sunday afternoon The Retrophonic Archive played a dazzling set. They’re a band that do note-perfect versions of hits ranging from sixties middle-of-the-road (‘Music to watch girls by’, ‘Matthew & Son’) through to The Jam (‘A town called Malice’). Yet the band’s enthusiasm and often stunning skills made their derivative style(s) of little moment. The vocalist managed the gymnastics of Sparks’ ‘This town ain’t big enough for both of us’ and concluded (naturally enough) with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. Later the sky opened for a little then cleared desultorily. As Get Carter (R & B) played in the light drizzle a helium balloon in the shape of a dalmatian escaped the clutch of its owner and flew across the rooftops.