Green Man Festival 2013: Review

Reporter:

Jess Needham

THIS is my third year at Green Man and it definitely was the best so far. Especially as I got to see one of my favourite artists, Ben Howard....but I'll get to that!

We arrived in the live in vehicle field on Friday afternoon and already we felt the chilled out, laid back, holiday atmosphere.

Green Man is set in the breath-taking Black Mountains.

Maybe it's the shamanistic spirit of the Green Man but being there never fails to inspire four days of freedom, wonder and magic.

Wherever you look there are amazing landscapes, which I think really sets this festival apart from others, it really is the most beautiful festival I have attended.

Unfortunately we missed Patti Smith's performance on Thursday night but the rest of the weekends line up definitely made up for it.

With 1,500 multi-arts performers across 17 stages, you really can hand-pick your own Green Man experience.

My highlight for Friday was Will and the People, who are actually former Green Man Rising Competition winners.

They played an awesome reggae set in the Chai Wallahs tent.

Later we caught brilliant sets from Midlake; an inspired set of woozy, pastoral psychedelia recalling dormant ancestors Fleetwood Mac and America and Crosby Stills - they have cemented their status as the foremost US folk rock band of their generation.

Also Kings of Convenience; Norwegian indie folk-pop duo, who made their Green Man debut this year, a live appearance from Kings of Convenience is a thing of rare beauty.

So on Saturday we spent some time at the Walled Garden Stage, which is secluded within 12 foot high flint walls.

We enjoyed performances from Annie Eve, Grass House, Rozi Plain and Bear's Den.

There is a happy, relaxing vibe at this stage where you can really kick back and just enjoy the music.

Later, we head back to the glorious Mountain Stage to catch The Horrors; who are an English band formed in Southend-on-Sea in 2005, consisting of lead vocalist Faris Badwan, guitarist Joshua Hayward, keyboardist and synthist Tom Cowan, bassist Rhys Webb and drummer and percussionist Joe Spurgeon.

The band have released three studio albums: Strange House (2007), Primary Colours (2009) and Skying (2011), all of which charted within the UK Top 40.
A fourth studio album is expected to be released in early 2014.

Also Band of Horses, who have released four studio albums, the most successful of which is 2010's Grammy-nominated Infinite Arms.

We later spent the early hours of Sunday morning at Chai Wallas 10th Anniversary Party.

The special vibe around Chai Wallahs is the product of many things but perhaps one of the most important is the efforts and energy of the crew.

Chai Wallahs has a team of highly skilled, dynamic and hard-working crew who all give their efforts to creating a unique ambience and positive vibe to keep you dancing all night long-definitely another highlight for me.

Apart from the main stages, there are loads of exciting new areas this year including Babbling Tongues - a revamped spoken word area; Little Folk for 12 year olds and under; Somewhere for 13-17 year olds; and Fortune Fall arts space. Also Green Man Rising, a new stage supporting emerging musical talent.

Sunday was by far the best day of the festival for me.

An act I recommend anyone to go and see would be Zervas & Pepper, as a duo they craft elegant, harmony-led folk-rock songs with escapist narratives and soaring melodies. Stornaway and Local Natives also were defining moments.

So arrived the moment everyone has been waiting for, Ben Howard took to stage and the atmosphere was absolutely incredible.

I was lucky enough to gain access to the photo area just beneath the stage, which was one of the most exciting moments I have ever experienced.

This was his final performance before taking time out to record a new album.

His performance was everything I imagined it would be, he played the hits from Every Kingdom which of course were a definite crowd pleaser, with everyone swaying and hugging each other as he played Only Love, he won the hearts of everyone there.

The new material he played has made me very excited for his new album.

Finally, just after midnight, everyone walked up to the Green Man statue which was set ablaze, bringing a ritual end to a magical weekend.

Green Man festival is certainly unique, mesmerising and a must for anyone looking to enjoy music in a chilled out, family orientated, picturesque setting.

I already look forward to next year.

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