Festival Review: Green Man 2015

by AlexJackson
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on 28 August 2015 in Features

“Bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn (it’s raining old wives and sticks),” quips the mud-clad reveller, as fellow countrymen and heroes Super Furry Animals grace the stage. It’s a proverb that rings true throughout a weekend of biblical weather and unexpected surprises.

Perched in the shadows of the Welsh Black Mountains, Green Man, now in its 12th year, has come a long way in very little time. From the crowd of 300 that first turned out in 2005, all that recognisably remains is the fervent independence of a festival now willing to go head to head with the big guns, very much on its own terms.

With a gloriously uplifting and laid-back feel, the wealth of talent on show is dazzling. Leftfield’s rather unexpected return is everything you could wish for: big in scope and epic in sound. It’s as if the hedonistic early 90s had never gone away, as new tracks from their first record in 16 years blend fittingly with classic cuts from debut ‘Leftism’, to rapturous applause.

Those big beats are not lost on Friday, as the creative masterminds that are Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard, put their fine work to play. Hot Chip arguably perform a set to rival any other all weekend, buoyantly whizzing through their six albums worth of consistently excellent harmonies and big dance hooks. What precedes it is even more of an expected delight. With members of Antibalas, LCD Soundsystem and Sinkane all on one stage, Taylor has amassed an all-star team, only fitting, to perform the magic of musician William Onyeabor, a Nigerian funk mastermind, reportedly never to have played his music live. It is a vibrant display of psychedelic African funk that beguiles and exhilarates in equal measure.

Across the weekend spans a line-up of old and new, from the jazz legends of Sun Ra Arkestra and mariachi-influenced country rockers Calexico, to the youthful Nordic vocals of the hugely impressive Aurora. The immaculately hushed vocals of Patrick Watson packed the Wall Garden, while Charles Bradley gyrated around his microphone stand, and the ever affable Natalie Prass played hits from her endearing self-titled debut. Elsewhere, there were the effervescent bolier suits and visuals of Saturday night headliners Super Furry Animals, who went through the motions in typically charismatic fashion.

However, two of the show stealing performances came on Sunday night as Father John Misty confirmed the hype as both frontman and vocalist, exuberantly whetting the audience’s appetite before St Vincent, with his sardonic wit, energy and stunning songs. Those few who decided on something a little different to the hugely talented Annie Clark were in for a real treat. Goat, the Swedish experimental world rockers were a force to be reckoned with as they played a mesmerising set in the Far Out stage. Ninety minutes of funk, acid rock and world music wowed anyone in distance of the tent, both in spectacle and fashion, wearing their tribal masks and gowns. It was undoubtedly a surprise highlight for many.

What Green Man has proved is that you can keep the uproariously charismatic feel of a local festival and turn it into an almighty beast, one that is both filled with an embarrassment of riches, yet keeps its feet firmly on the ground.

All photos taken by Iain Garrett

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