Brecon Beacons, Wales
When gazing at the vast expanses of the festival site, it was hard to believe that Green Man received the green light to go ahead over a month before its return.
A lack of government clarity, which had frustrated both fans and industry figures alike, had the festival balancing on a knife edge. In full swing, however, the apprehension of whether it could continue became a distant memory, as Green Man delivered a vibrant reminder of why it was so desperately missed. While weather conditions remained soggy, slippery and inexplicably warm, festival-goers showed that this was an event where spirits would not be dampened by whatever challenges were presented.
Perhaps that’s because it felt as though Green Man had been designed for every mood in mind. There was a generous portion of both guitar-charged bands and electronic talent on the programme. Needed to entertain the kids? The Flying Seagull Project had you covered (and they were excellent at it too). For those who were looking for visual spectacles, the organisers had considered that too. On the Sunday, as tradition, the wooden structure of a giant Green Man was ignited and burned bright throughout the evening. And that’s without mentioning the panels, literature, comedy and films on the schedule.
We started with last minute addition Hak Baker on a gloriously sunny Walled Garden stage. Rattling through infectious acoustic numbers which veered from warm to witty – a highlight being Like It or Lump It – Baker was welcomed by the crowd with open arms and he reciprocated, promising them a drink after his set. Similarly intoxicating was Thursday’s headliner who laid waste to the Far Out stage. A silhouette against burnt oranges and dry ice, Tirzah was gentle and devastating in equal measure.
While Nadine Shah proved unmissable on the Mountain stage, Friday belonged to Georgia and Caribou. The latter layered his sound with an ever-swelling band, and gave new song You Can Do It its first airing, whilst Georgia thrived as a lone figure on stage. Standing behind a single drumkit, she unleashed the soaring Never Let You Go, Ray Guns and a claustrophobic rendition of Running Up That Hill – which felt like a bold choice of cover but sounded utterly sublime and became a memorable highlight of the event.
As dizzyingly entertaining as it is to watch Thundercat wield his monster bass, his super-charged jam workouts were slightly exhausting by the fourth day, with festival-goers – like ourselves – seeking a more peaceful respite from the previous days.
Comfort was found in Self Esteem, who stalked the perfect balance between angsty and joyful. Otherwise known as Rebecca Lucy Taylor, the musician’s self-deprecating barbs hit harder, and were more amusing, in a live capacity. Flanked by an impeccably tight band and relentless backing dancers, we were treated to songs of new and old, as In Time, Favourite Problem and The Best prompted the most euphoric of singalongs. The previously unheard Moody became a new favourite alongside the astonishing I Do This All the Time.
As ever, Green Man’s late night programme was also meticulously curated. Seemingly created for the twilight, Kelly Lee Owens’ pulsating rhythms and foreboding melodies sat well in an early hours slot, and paved the way for Ross From Friends’ wonky techno, before Overmono brought the curtain down with one of the finest festival tunes in recent memory, as So U Kno rang out across the site.
For those who had forgotten, Green Man captured everything a festival could and should strive to be; a shimmering, safe haven of community and connection at a time when we’d been completely starved. Imagine thinking that shouldn’t be cherished.