Green Man 2015

Venue: Glanusk Park, Brecon
Date: 20th - 23rd August 2015

Green Man is a shining gem of a festival that is an absolute pleasure and privilege to attend. In what is now my seventh year of attending this festival I still have to pinch myself to realise this is real; a festival that reflects my record collection more than any other festival does, all set in the one of the most beautiful parts of the world, surrounded by mountains and a skyline that just makes you feel glad to be alive and appreciate everything you have in life.

When it comes to the music offered to us this year by Green Man, first mention has to go to Super Furry Animals. Green Man is not a festival where you get your usual festival circuit of headliners, but this year special mention does need to go to Super Furry Animals who absolutely blew our minds from the moment they walked on stage in their boiler suits and launched into ‘Slow Life’. Surely this was the moment so many of us had been looking forward to after a long hiatus, seeing our heroes back on stage together again headlining the greatest festival on earth was a dream come true. The band quickly followed ‘Slow Life’ with ‘(Drawing) Rings Around The World’ and ‘Northern Lites' both of which had the audience going crazy.

There were so many standout moments during this set but the most memorable moment has to be ‘Hello Sunshine’, not only for the incredible beauty within this song but the fact that this was the moment that the heavens opened; if ever there was a perfect description of irony that would surely be it. The rain continued throughout the set, but this did not dampen the spirits of any, in fact looking at the rain through the stage lighting turned the downpour into a beautiful festival moment that neither the crowd nor the band wanted to end. Playing well beyond their scheduled time The Super Furries ended this triumphant show with ‘Mountain People’, the perfect song for this festival against the gorgeous backdrop of The Black Mountains, then sending us into the wet, stormy night with a rousing rendition of ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’.

As with every year there were so many highlights of Green Man. I enjoyed every band, every artist and every sight that I saw. Some of the most memorable moments included Father John Misty whose performance could best be described in one word, WOW!!!!, that is how to put on a show. Father John Misty is an artist who has it all, his songs are incredible and his showmanship on stage would grab the attention of even the most casual of listener. This was an absolute treat of a show that will bring back a smile to my face in the months to come when I think back to the glory of Green Man.

Sweet Baboo’s set on the main stage on the Friday afternoon was beautiful from start to finish. With the support of a ten piece band Sweet Baboo looked at home on the main stage, his songs have always been worthy of a larger audience and it is so pleasing to see people appreciate how amazing this artist is. This was my first time to hear the songs of the new album The Boombox Ballads, and I soon found myself singing along and dancing without a care in the world, and also serenading my wife with ‘Got To Hang On To You’ which is clearly one of the greatest love songs ever written. ‘Walking In The Rain’ was another highlight of the set which was introduced by Sweet Baboo declaring this as his Travis Glastonbury moment, wanting it to rain whilst he played just like it did for Travis when they played ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me’ circa 1998.

This golden age of Welsh music that we are currently living through was further represented throughout the weekend by Meilyr Jones who was more than worth dragging yourself out of your tent early for on the Saturday morning. Meilyr’s set was interesting, fascinating, perfectly arranged and at times wonderful pop music. It was great to see Meilyr play without an instrument as this seemed to give him extra freedom as he dominated the stage like a perfect frontman. Coloroma provided the perfect soundtrack as the afternoon sun beamed down on Glan Usk Park; this talented Welsh musician certainly won some more fans after this set. Seazoo played on the Green Man Rising stage on the Sunday and performed a set of wonderful indie guitar pop. It will not be long before this band make the transition to the main stage. There were also many other great new Welsh acts who I sadly did not get to see including Palenco, Toby Hay, Zefur Wolves, Gulp and H. Hawkline. This really does feel like a magical time for Welsh Music.

Bill Ryder Jones stole our hearts and minds with his sombre, reflective songs which certainly caught the attention of the Green Man crowd. Bill had to complete the set under siege from the wasps, having to stop one song due to a wasp which is something Green Man 2015 will be remembered for, there were so many wasps this year! The Villagers were another band that captured our hearts, they performed such a charming and tender set that had the crowd hanging on every word sung and every note played. Teleman were a huge draw in the Far Out tent, I don’t think I have ever seen the tent so full. Leisure Society once again performed a set of perfectly crafted songs that are worthy of a large audience. Emmy The Great treated us to a set of adorably sweet music whilst night time was falling on the Walled Garden. Charles Bradley had a voice and stage presence that you will not forget in a hurry, this was another fine example of showmanship. The Staves were just lovely, with harmonies that were made for a Sunday afternoon in the sun.

As with every year Green Man provided me with a number of new discoveries. This year’s new gems for me included Sturgill Simpson whose set was full of country rock songs that were superb and Ryley Walker on the Walled Garden stage who was certainly echoing the spirt of John Martyn and Nick Drake. Ultimate Painting, words that spring to mind when watching this band are Velvet Underground, The Beatles, perfection, amazing, wistful and dreamy. Darren Hanlon was another new one for me, after seeing how appreciative and genuinely grateful he was for having the opportunity to be here and listening to the tales within his songs (especially ‘Home’), Darren Hanlon is an artist whose records I will certainly be rushing to buy. Landshapes are an incredibly interesting band on the Bella Union label who are impossible to pigeon hole.

For me Green Man 2015 was also the year to renew my vows with some old loves. Mew are a band I fell in love with over a decade ago then, as life drifted on, I kind of forgot about them. After this weekend that is something I guarantee I will not do again, their headlining set on the Far Out stage was uplifting, life affirming, unpretentious guitar electro-pop done exactly how it should be done. I think I can speak for everyone that watched this set when I say how great it was. My other former love was The Antlers, again I sadly forgot about this band in recent years until I saw their name on the line up. After watching their Sunday tea time set in the sunshine I found myself kicking myself at the thought of what I have missed out on by forgetting about them, but I also got that feeling you get when you first fall in love with a band and that made me happy.

Television performing Marquee Moon in full must have been a highlight for so many, I have to be completely honest and admit that until seeing the line up I had not listened to Marquee Moon. Of course I knew of the album and instantly recognised the sleeve but had not actually listened to the record (come on, surely we all have classic albums that we have not listened to). This was a performance where the music really did do the talking, there was very little interaction with the crowd and the screens were switched off. Television took to the stage, played the album in all its glory and just let the incredible tunes say it all. This was a performance I will certainly remember for a long time to come.

Green Man you have once again given us a weekend to remember. Of course we will remember the bizarre extremes of weather and the siege of the wasps, but what we will remember most is the music, the atmosphere and the mountains, all of which combine in harmony to create the perfect festival experience. The only thing left to do now is start the countdown to Green Man 2016.

Steve Tay

The Libertines

O2 Academy, Bristol
8th September 2015

Super Furry Animals

Albert Hall, Manchester
6th May 2015

Zervas and Pepper

The Globe, Cardiff
1st May 2015

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