To say that it rained would be a rather understated phrase for what the Green Man Festival’s punters endured in 2012. Entering the picturesque highlands of Wales, moods in high spirits – soon dampened as we move off the rickety shuttle bus – a bombardment of weather hits that people simply shouldn’t have to withstand.
But as with any festival in Britain; be it July or August, bad weather should be predicted; but alas, being the optimist, this particular festival-goer deemed only a pair of Nike trainers to be the most suitable footwear – fool. But forget the mud; Green Man festival is known to be a reserved, chilled and overall enjoyable experience, fair accolades. Set in luscious Wales’s highlands of Glanusk Park, the events organisers have been producing line-ups year in, year out for folk enthusiasts, families and music lovers alike. So after consuming more Halloumi and Paella from the ample selection of food, it’s finally time to see some music.
First to excite and awe, are dream-like auteurs Lower Dens. With an interesting moody-indie concoction, reminiscent of both indie greats Joy Division and The Smiths, Lower Dens perform a wispy, dreamy and engaging set. Flying through track after track, they produce a wonderful performance of dust-kicking psychedelia; the set goes down a treat and the audience leave knowing full well that they’re unlikely to see them in a venue this intense ever again. After paddling through mud for a few hours it becomes very apparent that although the music bill at Green Man is a convincing one, Friday is certainly the weakest of the three days; with the line up providing no real surprises or stars to mount any sort of excitement on faces, it isn’t until late in the day that a band manages to conjure up some sort of festival buzz – that band arrives in the form of Mogwai.
They perform more of their vocal-centric tracks and the audience are treated to heaps of post-rock brilliance. Yet it’s still hard to see the Scottish group as headliners. It’s not a set that will win them more fans, and it’s not a set that appeals to everyone at Green Man festival. Mogwai are hardly the most accessible of bands from the post-rock genre; counterparts from the same scene Sigur Ros, may well have been a better shout, but It’s an intriguing, if a little perplexing headliner none the less. Mogwai reward the festival audience by producing a magnificent performance, but still there seems to be something lacking from the blockbuster headliner.
Saturday we have the treat of more precipitation. That is until one of the few big names at Green Man, Van Morrison, arrives at the park, bringing the sun with him – hilariously entering the Welsh highlands in a helicopter. Before Van has even a chance to strut and sulk on stage (he happens to be notoriously moody), neo-soul marvel Michael Kiwanuka is on devilishly perfect form to provide some well needed energy before Morrison arrives on stage. ‘Home Again’ and the wonderful ‘I’m Getting Ready’ are as pitch perfect as a live performance can get. Michael’s set whizzes by at breakneck speed and soon enough Van Morrison arrives on stage belting out the fan favourite ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ in the blistering sun, with a jazz-esque twinge. Very brass infused, very cool. It’s hard to not enjoy and fall for this irresistibly entertaining set; with the Welsh highlands in the background, the sun in blistering form, outstanding music in abundance, it would be impossible not to enjoy the moment. An interesting booking; but a booking well made, Van leaves the stage with his voice still echoing and the older generation and kids alike dancing. Top marks Mr Morrison.
Later on in the evening, rather ironically named The Tallest Man On Earth takes to the stage. The Swedish singer-songwriter screams and bleeds every lyric with a lovely heart-warming intensity and the crowd warm to the Tallest Man On Earth instantaneously. The highlight being the wonderful ‘King Of Spain’, which perfectly broadcasts both TMOE’s wonderful lyrical talent and incredible stage presence for one just one man and a guitar. Whilst we’re on the topic of a one-man presence, fast forward a few hours and we have: Lone. For those of us not alive in the 90s to witness the rave scene and the heydays of the Hacienda, Lone will be the closest one will come to getting something that is reminiscent of those years whilst simultaneously sounding modern. With acid inspired visuals and thumping bass lines, Lone’s a one-man electronic spectacle. Featuring in the Far Out Tent, Lone is a name that looked as alien on the bill, but with a crowd more than game, Lone provided a set with such form and force that even this guitar-led festivals clientele can’t resist, finishing the Saturday on a high.
Sunday arrives and the rain’s gone and it’s all about the sun – spiffing news. Slightly ostentatious Three Trapped Tigers explosive racket is fun, pacey and a little brilliant; the soon to be mammoth Alt-J performed a pretty, tight set; Gang Colours, haunting, mesmerizing performance was also excellent; but on this Sunday, the set of the day belonged to TUnE-yArDs. Their unforgettable set was that rare festival beauty that occasionally plants itself in memories and refuses to leave, waving goodbye to bands in the far off distance. Arguably the most confusing, peculiar vocal talent of the weekend, frontman Merill Garbus’ voice is hardly the most accessible, but my word do TUnE-yArDs know how to ignite a carnival-like atmosphere. Within a few songs the fields are awash with people dancing, swaying and blowing whistles as if they have seemingly been transported to the streets of Brazil. This level of intensity is matched by no other act all weekend. In fact, I’d be surprised if any band had matched their performance all summer.
Following that, the end of the weekend had arrived; the colossal Green Man has ignited into flames; the fireworks have exploded; so it’s time for the festival to end – but it ends on a happy note. There is an obvious appeal to Green Man Festival; it’s peaceful, friendly and nice, very nice. For those expecting thumping bass lines and narcotics at the ready, you’re barking up the wrong tree and If you’re in the mood for messier, less controlled fun; stick to Creamfields and Bestival as this may be a little bit too tranquil for your liking. However, if you want fun, music, food and poetry in abundance – in a calm and spellbinding setting – you’ve come to the right place.