Green Man Festival Review 2013

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Green Man Festival 2013
Set in the stunningly picturesque Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons national park, the Green Man festival returned for its 11th year, providing festival-goers with four days of spectacular music, breath-taking scenery and an atmosphere of fun and friendly mischief to be enjoyed by all. Void of all commercialisation, this festival is certainly ‘green’ in every aspect of the word and offers a refreshing and relaxing escape from the mainstream music that heavily infiltrates so many UK festivals.

Having won the ‘Best Medium Size Festival’ award in 2011, it is without doubt that one of the most special things about Green Man is its layout and size. Spread out over 10 spacious areas there is something for everybody. Whether you want to lie down and bask in the beautiful sounds emerging from the Mountain stage, marvel at the undiscovered musical talent at Chai Wallahs, or enjoy a giggle at the Last Laugh stage, there is certainly no shortage of excitement. Equally, it is by far (to quote a father of three who I met on Saturday evening) the most ‘fantastically, family-friendly festival’ I’ve been to. There is an entire area designated to the 12 and unders in which bouncy castles, rounders games and bug  and insect inspecting are just a few activities for the mini-Green Man goers to enjoy.  

Arriving at the festival on Friday afternoon, my first stop was the Chai Wallahs stage, now in its tenth year of providing an eclectic mix of folk, hip-hop, jazz and reggae. An abundance of undiscovered talent can be found at this independent stage and it is well worth spending some time here as it will certainly not disappoint. I was welcomed by Dry the Rivers, a 6 piece Leicester based pop-reggae band as their catchy and highly energetic songs brought everyone to their feet.
 
After a quick tour around the festival, I carried on down to the Mountain Stage which in previous years has hosted some iconic performances from the likes of Van Morrison, Mumford and Sons and Bon Iver.  Norwegian duo Kings of Convenience claimed the headline spot and offered Simon and Garfunkel-esque vocals that merged together with such ease and style. Front man Erland Øye teased and joked with the crowd whilst demonstrating his musical proficiency as he conducted improvised sing-alongs for the audience to join in with. Their performance was so fitting to the Green Man atmosphere and so I was unsurprised when the band later told me that it this was their favourite UK festival to date.
 
Saturday was spent running between stages as I tried to indulge as much talent as possible. Highlights included Band of Horses, Allah-Las and Peep Show comedian Isy Suttie. By the time 3am came it was impossible to believe how many spectacular musicians, comedians, and entertainers that I had managed to pack into one day.
 
Crowd favourite Johnny Flynn kicked off the Sunday evening session on the Mountain Stage in style, offering the audience a taste of his forthcoming album. A quick stop at Chai Wallahs had me dancing to the ‘strum and bass’ flamenco grooves played by London-based band More Like Trees before heading off to the Last Laugh comedy tent to witness an outstandingly hilarious set from renowned comedian Josh Widdicombe. Brit-award winner Ben Howard took to the Mountain Stage to close the festival with a soulful, captivating and spine-tingling performance. Favourites such as ‘Keep Your Head Up’ and ‘Old Pine’ were sung with such delicacy and passion, leaving audience members mesmerised by Howard’s charm. The festival finale came with the burning of a giant Green Man effigy as a huge crowd of spectators gathered round to watch. A small but visually spectacular firework display illuminated surrounding hills and provided a very dizzying, atmospheric and idyllic conclusion to a fantastic festival. 

Green man is without doubt one of the most refreshing, welcoming and talent-filled festivals that the UK has to offer. It seems to get better and better each year and the scenery is definitely an integral asset to the festival that is certainly not to be missed. If you are looking for a relaxing, friendly and music-filled weekend then Green Man is the perfect place for you. I eagerly await Green Man 2014 and hope to see you all there!

Reviewed and Experienced by Jess Reid

Published on 23 August 2013 by Ben Robinson

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