Set in the heart of the Black Mountains in South Wales, our annual adventure was underway as the gates opened at 10am on the Thursday. Dry to establish base camp (which is always great) it was nice to explore the site and settle in.
Green Man is full of fun, like when around 9.30 pm one night I am ordering a coffee. The assistant said "why are you drinking coffee, there is still alcohol on sale", fair enough!
First music (which kicked off at 5pm) for us was the 9pm slot for BadBadNotGood. Impressive a band whose sound seem born out of Weather Report, jazzy rock indeed! Thursday’s special guests and headliners were Ride who have re-emerged as excellent as they were in their heyday. A powerful set of new and old material, this was a fabulous start.
Rain started overnight and that was really the weather sorted for the weekend, sunshine and rain. A wet Friday, dry Saturday and wet Sunday. Green Man really now has more wet days than dry but what is so special is that whatever the weather, a fabulous weekend is always guaranteed.
Friday starts with the Green Man Rising winner Siobhan Wilson on the main Mountain stage. Siobhan has been making music for longer than her young age seems possible. Fine songs and a relaxed set, very nice indeed.
Happyness are next up, something more gritty to get the afternoon underway. Fionn Regan in a rather special hat played a nice if rather shorter than expected set. Gill Landry was next on the Walled Garden stage. One man, one acoustic guitar. Gill delivered a great set.
Hurrah for the Riff Raft were the first real stars of the day. A vibrant set with Patti Smith style sentiments. The crowd were jumping! Karl Blau brought Washington Country to the Walled Garden stage, after which “the true Kings & Queen of the North” hit the Mountain stage. A triumphant set from British Sea Power!
Angel Olson is always a star and it's a wonderful show in the Far Out tent following on for us, from her Glastonbury performance in the summer. Future Islands headlined the main stage on Friday night having a close shave time wise getting to the gig from a show in Portugal the night before.The band were on fire, a danceable set indeed.
Doomsquad were the first band on the Far Out stage on Saturday. These Canadians are fabulous like a mix of Depeche Mode and Hot Chip with a touch of Jethro Tull flute all rolled into one. Grumbling Fur are an ace 70's influenced psych rock band with funny hats for good measure then, as they say “Chalk and Cheese” next up was Aldous Harding playing to a massive crowd on the Walled Garden stage. Vastly intense songs given even more feeling from Aldous’ facial expressions. A set where time stood still. A very special talent indeed.
This is the Kit still insist on the whole band STILL wearing Jeremy Corbyn T-shirts, which clearly don't fit each band member, much like the man himself with the general voting population. The Band’s music says what they have to say and the do it superbly so, please just ditch the t-shirts! Gospelbeach are next up, a country rock band who deliver what it says on the tin. Big Thief are outstanding on the Walled Garden stage, a wonderful set with the speakers dialled up to 10.
Lampchop, well three members of this fine Nashville band represent the whole band tonight. New album FLOTUS, sees the band’s leader, Kurt Wagner in Vocoder-drenched vocals mode and it much the same at Green Man with Tony Crow sat at a piano and Matt Swanson playing bass in this Lambchop trio. The overall set is a huge disappointment, a band who have found a new way but risk loosing touch with their fanbase. Michael Kiwanuka plays some delicious songs on the main stage with a termendous band in tow.
Saturday headliner is Ryan Adams, Rock Star, dry Ice, Slayer T-Shirt and a stage set resembling a Neil Young & Crazy Horse concert. 21 songs blasted out with not an acoustic guitar in sight. Gentle songs like ‘Too be Young’, ’When the Stars Go Blue’ and ‘Come Pick Me Up’ all get the electric guitar treatment. ‘Magnolia Mountain’ has a Grateful Dead style jam midway through. Towards the end of the set the dry ice drowns the stage. It’s all brilliantly Rock n’ Roll. Much like Neil Young who is as comfortable in an acoustic concert as an electric show, Ryan is at that point now and long may his career continue!
Sunday starts dry but there is a fair amount of Welsh rain on the way so it was the Far Out tent to which we headed for the proggy rock of Wolf People. A fantastic band that really deserve to be higher up the bill. They point out that they last played Green Man nine years ago when they opened the Far Out stage, today they are second on the bill!
Sunflower Bean are next up from New York City and they totally rocked. An in your face, garage rock band, brilliant! Veteran Michael Chapman was pure class on The Walled Garden stage as the rain fell and we headed to the Mountain stage for the sweet Americana of Fruit Bats who were playing their last show of their latest European tour.
A quick change into the waterproofs and it's back to the Mountain stage for Conor Oberst and various members of the Felice Brothers band. This was quite possibly the set of the weekend and in the heaviest rain of the festival. The crowd were like a band of brothers and sisters soaking up the enthusiasm of the band of the stage. A fabulous performance.
Our final two bands of the weekend are the latest version of The Shins. James Mercer belts out all the classics and crowd dance along. The Sunday headliner is the much anticipated set from PJ Harvey and Polly and her star studded band do not disappoint.
The concert is amazing, perhaps a work of art or more precisely a theatrical production. Polly’s voice is crystal clear and the lyrics as biting as one would expect on a dark wet night in the Black Mountains.
The traditional burning of the Green Man and fireworks brought to a close this 15th anniversary of the festival. Whatever the weather this is a fantastic festival. Mum and Dad’s bring their kids so the age range is totally across the spectrum. Everyone is in the right spirit and are chatty and friendly. The site brims with smiles. Roll on 2018!