Glanusk Park, Mid Wales | August 17-19th
Beards. Sandals. Jumpers. Houmous. Four simple words. And, yes, four features of Green Man. But now celebrating its 10th year, this marvellous, eclectic festival has grown to represent so much more than those tired cliches.
We arrived at the main stage for the latter stage of Friday, where Mogwai faced the unenviable task of following a riveting offering fromStephen Malkmus and the Jicks. Their Mirror Traffic record and subsequent live shows have fully established them as a distinctive, powerful band in their own right. But as if we had any doubt whatsoever, the Glasgow demi-gods responded magnificently. There are some damn fine purveyors of epic post-rock out there, but Mogwai reminded us just why they remain in a league of their own. Their gushing, mind-blowing crescendos extended to the glorious site’s furthest reaches in an inspiring display, equal parts power and subtlety.
Green Man falls into the satisfying bracket of festivals where you can appreciate a few of life’s finer things, with some incredible structures on show that it feels a tad flippant to dismiss as just ‘tents’. We’re happy to announce we embraced the luxury with our stunning bell tent.
Back in the midst of the music, Van Morrison proved to be an inspired addition to Saturday’s bill. The Northern Irish legend flexed his still impressive vocal chords and equally impressive back-catalogue to their limits. The evening’s headline slot presented a wrenching clash, but the pull of Tallest Man On Earth’s stunningly delicate and intimate one-man show proved too strong, whilst ensuring we caught the culmination of Metronomy’s main stage set proved equally justified, their tight rhythms and irresistible harmonies an uplifting treat.
Saturday evening also boasted the weekend’s outstanding after dark offerings, with the revered R&S Records taking charge of proceedings at the Far Out Tent. A double header of the captivating synth melodrama and heady rhythms of Nottingham boy Lone and a James Blake DJ set carved out a much-needed niche in the schedule which drew a devoted clutch of late-night revellers.
Sunday saw us return to that setting, where Alt-J proved why their stock is swelling so dramatically, responding to the now standard sight of a crammed-to-the-rafters tent with ease. They were followed by a sublimely mental showing of technical brilliance from Three Trapped Tigers and a stand out set from Cardiff-based Islet, who have to be caught live to fully appreciate their swirlingly percussive and experimental take on alternative rock.
But what proved to be the set of the weekend took place over at the smaller confines of the Walled Garden. While The Walkmen andFeist were no doubt working wonders on the grander climes of the main stage, Daughter had the entire audience falling silent to her delicate tones. Even the photographers in the pit refrained from shooting, so spellbound was the atmosphere. Somewhere between an acoustic xx and a female Bon Iver, the development of young Elen Tonra’s talents and the overall effect of her band gave us the distinct feeling we were watching a future headliner. What’s more, 4AD appear to have another absolute gem on their hands.
And so another year at the foot of the Black Mountains came to a suitably sublime ending. We’ll be back.
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Words and Photos: Clark Merkin