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Late Doors

Green Man 2016

Why weren't all festivals like this back in the day? I took it as read that they were going to be terrible but still went and wasn't surprised. You just accept the crapness of them and take it or leave it. Then along came the a few enlightened organisers and all of a sudden decent ones cropped up with decent facilities that treated decent people decently. Not a  lot to ask really is it? Green Man tempted me about ten years ago and I've loved it ever since. Quite blissful and together with the accent of decent camping gear makes it one of the highlights of the year for me, an annual peak.

This year Me n Si went down for the whole week pitching up in the pre fest settlement area on Monday with all the nice middle class families in their state of the art tent conurbations with lovely well behaved kids called Oliver and Harriet. The pre fest weather was glorious. ideal although very hot for scaling the peaks of Table mountain and Pen Cerrig-calch in the Brecon Beacons towering above to the North. Absolutely stunning views in the remote wilderness. I was on my own with Si bailing out half way up but I reckoned I might not get another chance in such perfect conditions so off I went up and up straying off path occasionally to the curious skitty surprise of the sheep and wild horses. Soldiers have died up there and that was never far from my mind so caution was the never far away. On the plateau along the summit, a sight I have gazed up at in awe from the festival many times the festival site appeared like tiny stamp way down below as the light winds wrapped my lug holes. I had a few moments of elation up there in perfect isolation before I decided to head back and re join Si in the Bridge beer garden about two hours later knackered but very very content.

Shaun joined us on Thursday and after stocking up with festival essentials of Bacon Bread Milk Sausage and cider in Abergavenny we picked him up at the station and ensconced ourselves for the festival proper.

Thursday is a welcomer in with only part if the sight open. Musically its generally a bit low key but two performing tents always provide something interesting and good. By The Rivers started things off for us after a late afternoon tea time chill outside the tent listening to my newly created Green Man I Pod playlist sipping cider . They played last year and their Leicester based ska ditties bought some fun and dancing to events in the Chai Wallah tent. Over on the Far out stage King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizzard ramped things up with mix of Acid Jazz heavy metal funk concoction that was ok for a while but became tedious eventually.

Wild Beasts are a curious Beast  for me. Capable of both majestic craft and dreary spiritless drivel often side by side. They have a new song out, something about Big cats being top of the food chain that just sends me into a saddened inner rage in a way the music shouldn't and thankfully rarely does. Its dreadful and they couldn't raise things after that for me or the others and indeed another couple from The Hudd that were around. Not just me then. I departed the tent and after a half day's cider sesh in a not altogether rock steady way either. Thankfully it was to be the last musical disappointment of the entire weekend. So bare with me.


Sausage Butties in the morning and lashings of tea. What could be better? A walk along the canal into Crickhowell, a couple of pints and back in time for Phil Cook and The Guitar Wheels rocking the main stage with some soulful blues. Unfortunately the weeks sunshine had given way to low pressure in the Valleys and sporadic rain became the order of the day for the weekend. Sunshine did break out occasionally as it did for Meilyr Jones. His track "How to recognise a Work of Art" is one of the songs of the year for me and it featured along with other brassy soulful tunes along the lines of Gruff Rhys. Good Stuff.

Miracle Legion (yes them from the eighties) continued the vibe with REM type Frat rock before we headed up to the Far out Stage to see one of the acts I was really looking forward to.

Kamasi Washington is a cauldron of  Jazz, LA beats and Funk. Immense and the Far out Tent rocked along with him and his fantastic band. Tight, energetic and fizzing with Horns that ripped through the tent out into open fields beyond. Seems that the field appreciated it too as it reciprocated with a stunning rainbow that greeted us on the way out

Next up was a clash I was hoping wouldn't happen but it did. I caught the first three songs by the brilliant Suuns before I had to dash to the main stage for Jason Isbell and weave my way near to the front . It was well into the evening now as light diminished and he took to the stage to a half full crowd area. Clearly not headline material yet but to those of us that love his music he might as well be. An utter triumph, completely on top of his game and a full hour of his powerfully conjured Americana with not a moment wasted. The Freight Train line made me smile but I just lost myself in his landscape of perfect guitar driven poetry that takes all that is good about traditional country rock and flings it into contemporary relevance. Magic.

Delighted to report that the food is still incredibly good at the Green Man Fest and the Goan Fish Curry stall still doing a roaring trade with wonderfully fresh lively tasty white fish curry, Mackerel Masalla Dhall and fluffy rice. Delicious

White Denim next up on the main stage and a different line up. Only one guitar supplemented with keyboards and a new bass n drum combo that left me wondering how they would come across. Certainly a more straight up rockier feel, less funkier but still soulful. I thought the rhythm section was fine but a muso friend of ours from the Hudd reckoned they were a disappointment with the new drummer not cutting it for him. Us three thought they were great though if not having the complex cross cutting guitar playing of previous gigs.

Finally the headline bands. I quite like James Blake but Lush headlining the Far Out Tent were a much better proposition for me. We all headed back up and I made my way as far into the tent as I could nearer the stage. They didn't disappoint. Miki Berenyi is such a focal figure and to me the band epitomise the good things of the nineties Brit Pop Scene. The terrific sings they left us with are testimony to that with their longevity. Sure enough she introduced the finale of the set as Brit Pop time in a slightly self effacing manner and set the tent alight with Lady Killers et al rounding off a splendid day.


No Leeds United on the Telly this year which makes a change from the previous years so we tarried in the festival. Mothers were the first band due for us over in the walled Garden but there was a mix up in the programs. Instead of Mothers, Ex Delgadoes and Burns Unit founder Emma Pollack and her band were sound checking. A mild disappointment since Butts had also recommended Mothers but nothing wrong with Emma is there?. A splendid set of early afternoon Scottish tinged folk pop to set the day off. Made me miss James Yorkston anyway but not the Brilliant Ryley Walker on the main stage. He meant business as soon as he appeared on stage with his Bass player and drummer. Cursing himself into the zone he sent us into a swirling hour of psychedelic folk jazz his amazing acoustic playing layering over and through the exemplary rhythm section. A fantastic extended version of Roundabout ( "If you come to Chicago ill take you around the garbage bars where I wrote these songs" he says ) Maybe a bit Trippy for some but I loved it. He's a real talent and a bit of a character as well.

Couldn't make Beak as I wanted to stay at the main stage for the Unthanks. Me and the Sun it appeared as it broke through and the band took the stage. Like Dock I've heard them a few times on 6 Music including in session and was looking forward to them. They were simply lovely, Beautiful harmonies, sumptuous strings from the female Quartet , affable chat, clog dancing and perfect festival vibes. Another Green Man highlight.

Cate Le Bon carried it on, I made my way even nearer to the main stage for this quirky singer songwriter. Her latest album is brilliant and she is getting better and better. Watch out for her. The set was filled with dynamic slightly off the wall but still rootsy Welsh folk supplemented with a very individual guitar overlay from the lass herself. Great Stuff.

I made my way to the back of the area on the grassy hillside behind the mixing desk for Tindersticks to just sit on the grass and let the slow burn of this subtle low key but character stained elegance fill the space around.

A dash up to the Far out tent now for a somewhat different vibe to finish the day. Michael Rother Band were into the last 15 mins of their industrial Kraut Rock before a majestic Barnaby Sykes Steak and Chorizo pie  fortified me for Jagwar Ma on the same stage 40 minutes later. This lot are growing and growing. A huge crowd amassed and their set of dynamic blip bop had me and the rest of the crowd moving with the pulsating beats and catchy hooks. Very Chemical Brothers like but very much their own thing.

Headline choice again. Laura Marling is excellent but I wasn't in the mood for her main stage headline set so I stayed for Battles in the Far Out Tent. A minimalist drum kit took center stage with a huge tall cymbal towering over it. It made sense when the man mountain of a drummer got behind it. Very much a vehicle for the drummers plundering powerhouse dexterity they kicked up an awesome racket that thrilled the packed mainly young crowd but to me they got a teensy bit samey. Eventually Si Gave up on them but I stayed till the end. Energy and a clattering intense mechanical vibe for sure but not sure I'd play their stuff anywhere else.

That was Saturday and I was back at the tent for midnight as the young ones headed out for the all night stuff that was going on.


Sunday is Roast Lunch day for us at the brilliant riverside pub The Bridge in Crickhowell. There was plenty of music to be enjoyed on Sunday so we booked a noon table. Another triumph. Roast pork, beef and all the trimmings. Excellent and a walk back along the canal in time for Slow Club on the main stage. This Duo from Sheffield do an ace slow downed version of  Future Islands Seasons but the rest of the set was just as good. The relaxed but shining melodies providing a great introduction to the day ahead but we had to miss the last few songs for something I was really looking forward to.

Kevin Morby has made one of the albums of the year for me and the Ex Woods man was playing on the same Far out stage where we saw his old band two years ago. Brilliant songs crafted with intelligence guile and musical surprises. Nothing  game changing but when a tried and tested genre can still produce this kind of individualism it speaks volumes of the lads talent. A terrific set of his accomplished growing repertoire, ace.

Another dash on this packed day of music saw me again nearer the front of the main stage just as the awesome Songhoy Blues were starting. This brilliant Malii band were on the Far Out stage last year and their African vibe blew us away. A year later and it seems its not just us as the whole main stage crowd bopped, waved and carniveled along with their joyous melodies and sensuous rhythms. Some crazy but thrilling dancing by the front  man  and mesmeric guitar playing all combined into a full hour of  uplifting spirit freeing celebration of the power of music.

At the opposite end of the danceability  curve I just caught the last 15 minutes of Besnard Lakes back at the Far out Tent. Just as thrilling for me but a total contrast to the previous hour.

Once again back at the Main Stage we caught the first 30 minutes of Julia Holter and her atmospheric layers of whispy beauty  before another hopefully more rewarding visit to the Walled Garden to see another of Butts' recommendation. Would you chuffing believe it though? Another Program error and instead of Joan Shelley we got the Folksy Sam Lee and friends. I could have dashed up to see Unknown Mortal Orchestra but i'd had enough of dashing around so we just sat and enjoyed Sam Lee in the intimacy of this smallest of  stages. I say enjoyed, Si didn't so he left me n Shaun to it and I must say I enjoyed the Traditional olde English string charm of this band more than he did.  

Two acts left now and there was a buzz about the place for Ezra Furman up at the Far Out Stage. More tremendous Goan Fish curry fuelled me for it and again I got as far into the tent as I could without sacrificing a degree of comfort. Wow, what a set, this guy is real rock n roll for the modern age. Fiercely unlabelled by gender he is angry and he funnels it all into the music. Part Boy George, Part Cramps, Part Nick Cave and a whole lot Ezra Furman. He rocks along with his much loved band the Boyfriends with the best. Taking '50s American rock, doo wop and soul and banging it out with ferocity and fire. A proper excitement, check him out. A finale of Your Love (is taking me higher) was genuinely spine tingling. He even managed a smile or two "Hell" he says "You guys are so sweet I can't stay mad at you"

And so the end is near. Just me by now, id lost the others a while back and Belle and Sebastian were not to be missed. The others were watching War Paint and Grandaddy but I could not miss Belle n Seb at the Green Man.

By far the biggest crowd of the weekend had gathered at the Main stage. This band are incredible. I don't know of any others who span the generations like they do. I can't tell you how good they make me feel (on second thoughts maybe I have, several times). I took a position on the grassy bank, cracked open my last cider and just let their world enter mine. They were brilliant. Stu was happy, first time at the fest for him, "is it ok if we take you through the ages of Belle n Sebastian? " he asked. This is twenty years old he said. "Older than most of you at the front he joked . A rare "Stars of Track and Field" in honour of the British athletics team. New album material over they partied on with their brilliant expansive repertoire. The traditional stage invasion for Arab Strap became dangerously overcrowded with maybe 500 fans joining in. It was an incredible sight. The Japanese girls next to me looking on in absolute disbelief. On they went including a two song encore to end a 90 minute set that seemed to be just ten minutes such was the time defying thrill of it. This band never fail to lift me higher even after a weekend of so many other highs.

I walked back to the tent where the other two were already throwing Z's but I was just too hyped. I took a seat out onto the grass, swigged a final cider and watched the burning green man and fireworks from afar and thought about next year.

Line up seems a bit more folkie this year. If I was ever to get off my arse and go to a festival this would be the one. We stayed in a cottage in Llangynidr one year. Weather was brilliant but got bitten to death by mozzies.
Late Doors

Its a lovely part of the world. Simular in lots of ways to Yorkshire. Plenty of Folk music but i wouldnt say its dominent. There's midges about but i cant recall them being a problem. They'd take one look at our cider, fish curry and sauage stained blood streams and scarper onto something much more wholesome

Was Shitty Shaw there?

Grind wrote:
Was Shitty Shaw there?

I heard he got 'bogged' down
smiling badger

Sounds as  though you had a brilliant time again.
Lots of ace bands to try and choose from also. I really like Cate le Bons stuff too. Lovely accent she sings with.
Know what you mean about Wild Beasts also.  A shame that that they didn't please you enough to stay but I guess that there's lots to choose from when a band you are watching doesn't do it for you you go watch another.  
Really does sound like a brilliant festival you have there.

Nice one LD. Sounds like you and the lads have got your routine honed to get the maximum out of this particular festival and the surrounding towns/ eateries. Good to read about Meilyr Jones. I read a review of his album in Mojo and will defo check out now you've given him a glowing review. Same goes for Kamasi Washigton. Haven't heard one note by him but I'm very intrigued from what I have read, again he's somebody that's on my radar from Mojo. I enjoyed the entire review. Thanks for posting.

PS I'd like to vote for your words 'Cate le Bon carried it on' as her next album title.

PPS Please don't use the phrase 'Brit Pop' to sum up a decade. You sound like some square newsreader a la John Humphries.
Late Doors

PPS Please don't use the phrase 'Brit Pop' to sum up a decade. You sound like some square newsreader a la John Humphries.

If i was any squarer i'd be an oxo cube. Ok point taken i will give that due consideration

Late Doors wrote:
PPS Please don't use the phrase 'Brit Pop' to sum up a decade. You sound like some square newsreader a la John Humphries.

If i was any squarer i'd be an oxo cube. Ok point taken i will give that due consideration

No problem Daddio! Right, I'm off down the coffee bar for a bottle of Cokearama with the other teenagers. I'll be back in time for the start of Ready Steady Go.
Late Doors


*searches out Beatles wig*
Late Doors

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