Fore­casts were for gales, thun­der and tor­ren­tial rain. What we actu­al­ly got were tan­ta­lis­ing peeks of sun, and show­ers which float­ed down with clock­work reg­u­lar­i­ty like a sprin­kler sys­tem. If you’ve ever want­ed a qui­et word with the Met Office when they get things wrong, by for­tu­nate coin­ci­dence there they were, at Ein­stein’s Gar­den, Green Man’s sci­ence / ideas area. Their rep­re­sen­ta­tive informed a crowd that the next day, Sun­day was going to be DRY! Er, no, it wasn’t.

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My last vis­it to Green Man in 2012 was when Van Mor­ri­son graced the main stage (and was rumoured to have been whisked off by heli­copter at the end, while we still car­ried on danc­ing to his band). So I’m famil­iar with the Green Man site, but it just took my breath away all over again. Green Man has every­thing fes­ti­val-wise – an impres­sive main stage set against the moun­tain­ous back­drop, wind­ing paths, hid­den areas, and a love­ly lit­tle walled gar­den with its own stage.

An impres­sive devel­op­ment is the new, big­ger Far Out tent with a beefed-up sound sys­tem, the sound was so well bal­anced and pow­er­ful it seemed to almost engulf you. Plus big side screens. This is where we end­ed up spend­ing a big part of the week­end, and where many of the emerg­ing and more exper­i­men­tal artists were per­form­ing. Palace Win­ter deliv­ered an excep­tion­al set on Fri­day after­noon, beau­ti­ful shoegazey gui­tars and lush, long tracks which pulled you into their depth. Lat­er that evening, the crowds gath­ered in force for Float­ing Points, who I saw at Field Day, but this per­for­mance was bet­ter, per­haps due to Sam Shep­herd’s lay­ered, jazzy com­po­si­tions enhanced by the big­ger tent and sound system.


Apart from music, there was ‘stuff to do’ every­where you looked. The Water­front tent host­ed debates and an intrigu­ing Wildlife Draw­ing class with owls, unfor­tu­nate­ly mad­ly over­sub­scribed by the time I got down there. Ein­stein’s Gar­den was con­tin­u­al­ly thronged with chil­dren and par­ents busy with activ­i­ties, includ­ing a phone charg­ing sta­tion which you pow­ered up by cycling.

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But it was the music on offer that exceed­ed any­thing we could have hoped for. It was par­tic­u­lar­ly thrilling to see Michael Rother’s pound­ing, mes­meris­ing Krautrock set which includ­ed the intense Fur Immer from Neu 2, and which seemed to bounce off the tent walls. Jag­war Ma dancey psych pop and Beak – Geoff Bar­row’s project – were both impres­sive sets.

Cate le Bon was back on Welsh home ter­ri­to­ry for a sparky ear­ly evening set on the Moun­tain stage, where she per­formed a mix includ­ing num­bers from lat­est album Crab Day. I love the Nico-esque qual­i­ty of her voice. Lat­er, Fat White Fam­i­ly nat­u­ral­ly pulled in a huge crowd at the Far Out tent, although I pre­ferred the off­shoot Moon­land­ingz set on Sun­day, which had a warmer feel.

We mean­dered along to chilled-out Chai Wal­lah tent at inter­vals, where there’s always a fab­u­lous mix of bands and DJs pump­ing out feel-good glob­al sounds. As always Green Man had their cup sys­tem in oper­a­tion, where­by you hand­ed in your cup on an exchange basis each time you ordered at the bar. Con­se­quent­ly the site was as clean as I’ve seen anywhere.

On Sun­day with a slight­ly del­i­cate head, I drift­ed into the Far Out tent to catch All Them Witch­es whom I assumed to be some back­woods-folky out­fit, per­fect for eas­ing slow­ly into the day. Instead I was blown away – in a good way – by a full assault of storm­ing blues-gui­tar, loaded with sex­i­ly men­ac­ing riffs and pow­er drums.

The Besnard Lakes have become one of my favourite bands since I saw them on their UK spring tour and it was it was an extra cher­ry on the cake to dis­cov­er their sole UK fes­ti­val slot was at Green Man. The set includ­ed the euphor­ic Gold­en Lion and Pres­sure of our Plans. Tung­sten 4: The Refugee sound­ed par­tic­u­lar­ly dra­mat­ic per­formed live. And as always, there were copi­ous amounts of fog which added to their air of mys­tery. I love the dense, dreamy qual­i­ty of their com­po­si­tions and the com­plex­i­ty of their lyrics.


Sun­day Moun­tain stage head­lin­ers were Belle & Sebas­t­ian who made sure that theirs was a clos­ing set to remem­ber. Stu­art Mur­doch likes to invite select­ed audi­ence mem­bers onto the stage for a dance, and he cer­tain­ly test­ed secu­ri­ty with a ver­i­ta­ble stage full at Green Man. We head­ed back to The Far Out tent, again, which was fit to burst­ing for Ezra Fur­man’s ‘camp pop sav­agery’ as Tes­sa, one of my festie besties called him.


Green Man fes­ti­val this year gets my five-star rat­ing for its intel­li­gent cura­tion, fam­i­ly atmos­phere, good food includ­ing some local Welsh pro­duce, love­ly cider and gen­er­al­ly chilled pleas­ant vibe. It will be inter­est­ing to see how they will top this for their 15th anniver­sary next year.

Green Man, Bre­con Bea­cons. 18–21 August.

Go back, back in time to 2012 for my review here

Green Man 2016 cups








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