Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Green Man Festival - Sunday

Sunday – the final full day of the Green Man Festival – started in much the same way as Saturday; with the screaming child in the tent next to mine waking me up far earlier than I ever wanted, especially unwelcome as I’d been up ‘til almost four the night before. On the plus side, for the first time over the entire weekend it was actually sunny in the Brecon Beacons!

This meant that for the first time we could actually eat our breakfast outside and enjoy the sunshine. One can only wonder if the mood of the festival would have been lifted if the weather had been nice and sunny for the entire weekend. That said, would the good weather have been appreciated so much if there hadn’t been seemingly endless downpours for most of the Green Man festival weekend? Probably not, nevertheless the shorts were finally given their first run out of the weekend and we made the short (ish) journey to the main festival site, to the Literature Tent to be precise.

The Literature and Comedy tent was definitely one of the best parts of the Green Man festival. Offerings over the weekend had included some excellent comedy in the form of Robin Ince and a fascinating talk from Stuart Maconie & David Quantick. Mr Quantick was back again, this time in conversation with music journalist Neil Taylor whose book – Document and Eyewitness – is a history of the Rough Trade record label. The talk provided an interesting insight into Rough Trade during the 1980’s, and of course The Smiths were discussed. The talk certainly has made be consider buying the book, especially considering the amount of time I spent in Rough Trade East when I lived in East London.

Speaking of sceney spots in the nations capital, a mention must go to the girl sitting behind me before the talk began who can only be described as Camden Girl. Camden Girl was speaking to another girl about how great it was to live in Camden, with every single sentence contained ‘like’ multiple times. It actually drove me mad. In fact it wasn’t just me, with my colleague Sam passing his phone over to me. It simply read:

“How many times has she said like?”

If we’d consumed two fingers of alcohol every time she said like, it’s likely we’d have been smashed very quickly. I bet Camden Girl works in Graphic Design.

Following the Neil Taylor talk in the Literature tent, a wander around the festival site ended at the Chai Wallah tent where an unscheduled – according to the Green Man Festival programme – instrumental beat boxing session by Vid Warren had just begun. Yes, instrumental beat boxing being performed by a bloke in a sharp suit...and it was fantastic! Beat boxing is fun enough on its own, but combine it with a harmonica or a recorder and it’s even better. Top marks for the lad, it was a unique performance...and that was before he was helped out by a girl playing her own nose.

The quirky but excellent vibe continued with the Bluegrass musical stylings of The Whiskey Drifters...from Bristol here in the UK. Now no Sunday afternoon will seem complete without a hoedown, though in future I’d prefer to be in possession of a Texas Ten Gallon and a six-shooter just to complete the scene. If that could be traded for the bloke in just a grass skirt that was dancing awfully close to me, it’d be well appreciated.

Unfortunately, despite the time only being around 4 p.m. this is where my personal experience of upbeat, high tempo music at Green Man Festival ends. Why? Because after a quick trip to the tent to stock up on the remainder of our booze, the Main Stage was the chosen spot for live music and the music was mainly folk, downbeat or both.

Laura Marling is obviously a talented musician, but her set was a bit on the disappointing side... a bit wet as one of my colleagues put it. There wasn’t really energy, with everything being a bit melancholy. Of course, this is her style but for a large crowd at a festival you wanted a bit more flair.

Mumford & Sons
were up next and for some reason they drew the biggest crowd. Now this particular part of this review is going to be incredibly biased because I can’t stand Mumford. Maybe it’s because their single Little Lion Man was just so incredibly overplayed last year, or perhaps it’s because they seem to stand for everything I despise. It seems most of the Green Man festival goers disagreed with me on those points though, as large groups of them dispersed after the set was over.

Personally, the best thing I saw during Mumford & Sons set was the beautiful red haired girl who was working at the Moroccan food outlet near the main stage. She was stunning. I almost went all Mark Corrigan from Peep Show and proclaimed her to be the one. Thankfully, despite the cider inside me, I didn’t. It’s probably a good thing I’m not an impulsive person...

Green Man Festival surely couldn’t go a whole day without rain, and this proved to be the case when the heavens opened up on Sunday evening. Being rained on doesn’t exactly make a person feel happy, but what makes them even less happy still is having to listen to less-than-happy music. Unfortunately, Tindersticks were the next band on stage and they were very, very dour. Imagine a more folky, more depressed, Scottish version of Radiohead and you’d be able right. Staying awake during their set was actually a struggle.

The closing act on the Green Man Festival Main Stage was the incredibly talented Joanna Newsom who played her harp beautifully. Unfortunately, the combination of the rain, the tiredness and the previous bands downbeat songs meant both myself and my companions decided that we’d had enough about two thirds the way through her set. Again, like Laura Marling, Joanna Newsom is talented but perhaps not for the Main Stage of a festival...or maybe I’m missing the point of Green Man all together. On the plus side, Miss Newsom is very, very attractive (misogyny + 1)

Nonetheless, the Sunday night felt like an incredible let down compared to the energetic performances of Billy Bragg and The Flaming Lips the evening before. Hell, if I was in charge then Billy Bragg would have closed the festival. I really wanted to stay up until the early hours to see Milton Jones and Steve Hughes in the Comedy Tent. Unfortunately, the evenings performances had been so downbeat, I was struggling to stay awake – and this was only at 11 pm. There’d be no partying in the mud on the final night of Green Man Festival, but at least with the family in the tent next to me having left, I’d get a decent nights sleep!

Of course, the whole experience of Green Man was very enjoyable. It’s just a crying shame that I couldn’t get more into the music of the Sunday night. Of course, not everything at a festival is going to be to everyone’s tastes and there’s no doubt some Green Man festival goers who enjoyed Laura Marling and Tindersticks...or even Mumford & Sons who may not have enjoyed Metronomy, DJ Yoda or dancing in the mud until the early hours of the morning. I’d definitely go back to Green Man next year if I got the opportunity.

(Originally written for Gobshout)

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