Live Review – The Green Man Festival (Friday)

Mainstage3The Green Man Festival upped it’s own stakes on the rousing success of last year. On arrival, the weather was damp, but unusually, no-one seemed to care. The first notable musical success of the weekend was the ear crackling Scott Matthews. Matthews’ fared much better in the stripped down voice’n’guitar version than the big band of his record. In the studio, Matthews can suffer a little from the Radio 2 singer songwriter syndrome, but on stage with bare bones, he veered from Tim Buckley to stand-up comic. "I’m sorry for… the crap things I do…" was his patter, sounding like the drunkest man at the festival.

Next up on the Main Stage was the spectacular Spinal Tappery of Circulus. The band took to the stage in torrid downpours, but lifted hearts and flipped wigs with acid/prog/folk crowd rousers. In fact, they were without doubt, champions in terms of getting people to dance. ‘My Body is Made of Sunlight’ bounced down the hills surrounding the stage whilst lead Circule, Michael Tyack, produced two broadswords and swirled them by the bombard playing peasants on stage. Imagine Spinal Tap if they’d fallen for medieval wizards instead of hairspray. Great fun.

Following the witches and warlocks on the main stage was the perfect shambles of  The Aliens. Now, front man of The Aliens is the erratic genius of Gordon Anderson, otherwise known as Lone Pigeon. Gordon was once a member of The Beta Band, and had reunited with some of his old bandmates to form the frankly oddball Aliens. Their appearance at a folk festival can only be attributable to the fact Gordon’s Lone Pigeon persona is distinctly scratchy, lo-fi and folk inspired. The Aliens however are not. Many songs sounded like Beta Band cast-offs, and presented was a hashed faux ‘Baggy’ sound which failed to convince. One highlight of the set was the catchier-than-mumps ‘Robot Man‘ which saw Gordon and clan bounce around the stage like toddlers on Es (not E numbers… Ecstasy) and generally make buffoons of themselves.

Over in the Folkey Dokey tent, something wonderful was about to happen. Gruff Rhys, lead singer and songwriting machine of the Super Furry Animals took to the stage to perform a solo set. The set comprised of tunes from his ‘Yr Atal Genhedlaeth’ LP and Meic Stevens covers. Performing with acoustic guitar, an electronic bagpipe machine, a casio keyboard (set to ‘rock beat’) and a loop generator, Gruff performed won of the most fantastic and original sets that this writer has ever witnessed. The songs performed were largely in Welsh, and the few snippets of English were worth the admission alone. With utmost sincerity, Rhys tenderly sang "I vomited all the way through your saxophone solo", and in true folk style, gave a story of each song before performance. An incredible success and one that would ultimately be tough to beat. Gruff Rhys is blessed with an exceptional voice, which crushed the most hardened opposition. Within minutes, the surrounding fields were filled with giddy voices saying "did you see Gruff Rhys?" Incredible stuff.

Headlining the Friday was folk wizard and dippy hippie, Donovan. Dressed in green (what else for a festival called The Green Man), Donovan pulled out all the hits. He breezed through ‘Lalena’, ‘Mellow Yellow’ and ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’. The latter left the crowd slightly miffed as Donovan half sang/spoke his way through the bridge with "I went to the Rishikesh with four Beatles, one Beach Boy… and Mia Farrow…" and recounted a half baked tale of John Lennon being disrespectful to the Maharishi Yogi. Now, if he’d just told the thing, it would have been funny… but in a odd affected voice… well, everyone laughed for the wrong reasons. Toward the end of his set, he finished ‘Season of the Witch’ by talking in some strange Rastafarian accent (calling out "GREEEN MONNN!"). Odd. That said, on the whole, he was enjoyable, and a nice lead up to one of the most original bands in the universe.

A Hawk and a Hacksaw features Jeremy Barnes, who has worked with Broadcast and Neutral Milk Hotel (among others) and is one of the most stunning (both visually and sonically) groups going. Recalling Eastern folk, and taking in Spike Jonze along the way, the group battered out timeless instrumental music with violins, accordions and various percussion. Barnes inventively played accordion whilst donning a hat with morris bells for top end percussives, and a drum stick attached to the top hit the cymbal with his head… AND whacking a bass drum. An incredible way to end the first day.

Mof Gimmers


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: