I’ve been thinking of giving the whole three-day festival thing a miss in future unless I’m lucky enough with next year’s Glastonbury, so this could very well have been my last and, if it was, then it wasn’t a bad way to go out at all.
I’d never been to Green Man before but as it coincided with regular Tony’s 40th birthday we decided that this would be the one for this year no matter what the line-up.
Fortunately said line-up is usually pretty strong so we were confident that whatever the announcement we would find plenty worth watching.
As we tend to do, we booked accommodation nearby, this time in Abergavenny, and me Gill and Tony travelled in each day from a lovely little cottage adjoining a farm.
To say that the first day we were there was wet would be putting it mildly. It came down in torrents but we were encouraged by the weekend forecast of better weather to come. To paraphrase Marty Wilde, we were taking a trip up to Abergavenny and hoping the weather stayed fine.
As it was all new to us we wandered around the site getting our bearings before finally deciding who and what to watch. At first the site looked a bit all over the place but it soon made sense. The only downside – at least for one of us – was the sheer number of wasps in all the food and drink areas. Let’s just say there was a lot of getting up and down and moving seats.
At the site’s heart was the giant Green Man sculpture which is ceremonially set alight at the end of the festival but more of that later. It also boasts far and away the most picturesque main stage location I’ve ever seen. (The picture does it scant justice).
The eclectic line-up showcased the very new, the decidedly vintage, the incredibly shouty and the whisperingly quiet.
If you wanted noise then Yak and Pigs x7 were available, quality indie pop, check out The Big Moon and The Beths, ethereal folk – see Aldous Harding, but this is barely scratching the surface.
Best performance of the weekend for me was a close run thing but probably shaded by the legend that is Richard Thompson who was spellbinding for an hour and a quarter in front of a packed Far Out tent. A guy turned to me at one point and said `it’s like he’s playing two guitars at once’, and the virtuosity on display was mesmerising. Coupled with some outstanding songs of course.
Running a close second would be The Growlers who were a complete surprise on the Sunday night playing some infectious reggae and ska-tinged pop. Watching them I had to wonder exactly where a band like this fits in these days. Thirty five years ago they would have been pop stars. Now, who knows?
And then in no particular order would come the delightfully sleazy Fat White Family who were much better than when I last saw them a couple of years ago – less frantic and more in control; A Certain Ratio who continue to roll back the years and were solidly funky to say the least opening up with Do the Du and throwing in the classic cover of Banbarra’s Shack Up; and Stealing Sheep who added a giant inflatable pink sheep to bounce around the audience during their groove-filled set on the Walled Garden stage.
We also saw The Big Moon’s Juliette Jackson get proposed to at the end of their set – and accept. A lovely moment in a weekend filled with them.
Final band of the three days for us were Idles who Tony has waited a long time to see having had to pass up no fewer than four previous opportunities when he has had tickets and then not been able to go!
Unfortunately it wasn’t the barnstorming event closer we were hoping for. Too much sermonising and too few truly great tunes.
We headed out of the big top they had played in as Sunday turned into Monday to witness the lighting of the Green Man and nod appreciatively at the firework display that accompanied the ceremony.
All in all a fantastic weekend in gorgeous surroundings. If you want a festival with heart, then this is the one for you. Just mind the wasps!