Green Man 2012, the 10th anniversary of the festival, taking place in Wales’ Black Mountains this weekend promises to be one of the most diverse UK festivals of the year.
From giants of independent music, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks and Mogwai to legends including Van Morrison, Jonathan Richman and Dexys – playing new material from recent LP, \’One Day I’m Going to Soar’. And that’s just the music.
There’s also an incredible range of comedy including Royn Ince and Josie Long and literature featuring Tom Waits and Led Zepellin biographer Barney Hoskyns and Richard King, talking about new book How Soon is Now? A history of independent labels.
Across the weekend in the Cinema Tent there’s the chance to take a break from bands with films including music documentaries, Hammer Horror and gems from the BFI archive.
Alongside the big US and Canadian artists performing, watch out for up and coming UK acts too. Liverpool is one city boiling over with exciting bands this year and Stealing Sheep and Laura J Martin are just two that you can catch at Green Man.
Stealing Sheep release debut LP \’Into the Diamond Sun’ on Monday 20 August and kick off the Far Out Stage on Friday alongside Toy, Errors and headliners The Bees.
Also from Merseyside but sounding like she comes from somewhere somewhat greener and more mysterious is Laura J Martin. Taking her inspiration as much from hip hop as from folk, she crafts a rich tapestry of sound. Close your eyes and it sounds like a six or seven piece band on stage, but is actually constructed live by the talented multi-instrumentalist through the use of careful looping techniques. Incorporating piano, mandolin and even singing her own backing vocals, this is a set not to be missed when Laura plays on the Walled Garden stage on Saturday evening.
Mogwai bring the wide ranging sound of last years’ \’Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will’ album, flitting between classic Mogwai and almost getting into Stereolab / Kraftwerk territory on tracks such as \’Mexican Grand Prix’. Always a great festival band, they bring their shimmering and cascading guitars to their headline slot on the Mountain Stage.
Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks could be the perfect choice of band for Green Man, fusing the sounds of ensemble rockers Television, folk-rock originators Fairport Convention and the pioneering British psyche-blues of The Groundhogs. Stephen Malkmus’ lyrics have always had a rare quality from the early days of Pavement. Taking a skewed and humorous look through popular culture with wide ranging historical references (often in the same song) and with both a musical looseness but also a drive and energy which has lasted through Pavement and into the now 3 or 4 configurations of The Jicks. Even without powerhouse drummer Janet Weiss, Malkmus and Co. promise to rock the main stage as if they were Creedence Clearwater Revival circa 1969.
I keep thinking about a new thing. And this year it’s Field Music. They absolutely stormed Hop Farm Festival at the end of June, with a relentless and electrifying set. Expect nothing less than the same energy fuelled performance when they hit the Far Out Stage here at Green Man.
Another delicious treat, earlier on the same stage is The Wave Pictures, weaving contrary and often hilarious and lovelorn story telling with some of the best guitar playing found anywhere. Is David Tattersall the best rock guitarist in Britain today? The latest Wave Pictures LP \’Long Black Cars’ has certainly led me to the precipice of this conclusion. Go and see the Wave Pictures on Saturday afternoon to find out for yourself.
Van Morrison has kept his live audience guessing over the past 20 years. Mainly over whether there will be an unexpected hour long interval after the first 4 songs. A true original, if he’s not feeling it in concert he sometimes wonders off stage and comes back when he is. I’m sure that with a tight running schedule at Green Man this won’t happen, but you never know. Expect a wide ranging set from over 40 years of Van The Man’s oeuvre. He may even grab a saxophone and get down with his band.
Fans of musicians such as Will Oldham, Songs:Ohia and Elliot Smith should check out Damien Jurado when he takes to the Mountain Stage on Sunday. Expect him to be playing songs from \’Maraqopa’, his second collaboration with fellow Secretely Canadian artist Richard Swift as producer, alongside a kaleidoscope of rich, dense, swirling sounds from his prolific output. (This reviewer is hoping for 1 or 2 from 2008’s rather wonderful Caught in The Tress LP too.)
Canadian songstress Feist closes the festival on the Sunday on the Mountain Stage, just as the inaccurately named Of Montreal (they are from the Athens, Georgia not Canada) close proceedings on the Far Out Stage. Feist has taken mainstream exposure and success completely in her stride. (Single \’1,2,3,4′ was used as an ad for iPod advert in 2007 propelling her up the charts and into the orbit of Time Magazine.) Her recent LP \’Metals’ doesn’t have any straight-ahead pop but has atmospheric, earthy qualities that are even better observed live and at night, as anyone who saw her epic Albert Hall concert back in March can testify. Capable of leaving an audience screaming for more, and regularly giving it to them when they do, this promises to be the perfect ending to a celebratory weekend to mark ten years of Green Man.
All words by Willow Colios who will be reporting back from the festival for us.