Green Man 2012
We sent Mat Beal down to the chilled out festival of choice
This year marked the tenth edition of Wales’s Green Man festival (or 'the Green Man', as old-school types will persist on calling it). In that time, it’s expanded from a one-day alt folk event into a four-day extravaganza, with a remit encompassing anyone who’s ever grown a beard or looked at a banjo.
Most of the folkier* acts on the bill now appear within the pleasing confines of the Walled Garden stage, where it’s possible to enjoy the music from the shelter of the pub-themed beer tent; always a bonus. The lineup here included psych-flautist Laura J Martin, the lively folk rock of Chailo Sim and local hero Cate Le Bon.
The more eclectic main stage, meanwhile, featured high-profile sets from Mogwai, Yann Tiersen, Dexys and, er, Van Morrison. As well as Green Man royalty in the form of the Pictish Trail and King Creosote (whose set was mildly disrupted by the delightful appearance of three paragliders descending into the park. “Here comes the Queen,” he said). Up the hill, the Far Out Stage hosted bonkers flamboyant indie rockers Of Motreal, a fantastically well-received set by Mr Jonathan Richman, and the icy snyth pop of Junior Boys (only slighty spoiled by a member of Team Artrocker pointing out that their vocals bore a slight resemblance to Rick Astley).
Other highlights: Adam Buxton getting the party started on Thursday night with a rendition of his ‘Middle-Class Festival Song’; a performance of indie legend MJ Hibbett’s “rock opera” Dinosaur Planet, appropriately enough in the science area of the site; barnstorming sets by the Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club and the Lucky Eggs in the cinema tent on Saturday afternoon; and an unplugged (sans PA) appearance from the Holloway Jugband at the real ale bar.
Over the last decade, the organizers of Green Man have created a festival with the independent and leftfield vibe of Glastonbury, but on a much more intimate scale. It also takes place on one of the few festival sites that still looks good in the rain (which is just as bloody well really).
* For the purposes of this review, we’re defining “folk” as “anything vaguely whimsical played on acoustic instruments”. In your face, purists!