Live Review – The Green Man Festival (Sunday)

Stammers4The final day of any festival is usually the most disappointing. You find yourself mulling over some dreadful mung bean creation and weighing up the daft hats. Obviously, you then drink yourself into oblivion to thwart any such purchase. Well, the Green Man didn’t fall into that old trap, with the weather and bill heating up for the final day.

First to catch the eye was an artist already featured on our humble pages. Nancy Elizabeth Cunliffe emerged from a weekend of rain to create a sound so stunning that many surround me were reduced to tears. Cunliffe’s voice was note perfect, and so full of emotion that it was impossible to take your eyes away from her. A mixture of guitar, harp and hammer dulcimer, Nancy glided through a heart stopping rendition of ‘Place To Shelter’ which prompted the first spontaneous standing ovation of the day. So stunning was the performance that it prompted Adem to grab Nancy at the end of her performance to act like a gibbering fan. I was also guilty of this gibbering fandom.

Then, over to the main stage, where the sun reared up for the wonderful Juana Molina (who I’d been tipped off toward by an enthused pal). Struck somewhere between the aching wooze of Rita Lee and the gentle electronics of Board of Canada, Molina single handedly charmed the entire festival with staggering Latin folk and bossa. For fans of Nouvelle Vague, they would have had a heart attack at the talent and depth on show.

Following Molina, over in the Folkey Dokey tent was US folkstress, Marissa Nadler. Nadler brought a clutch of heartbreak and stage nerves. Awkward and shy, but blessed with a voice not unlike Joni, Nadler kept the tent entertained for the duration of her set, but didn’t win my heart in the same way Nancy Cunliffe or Juana Molina did. A cracking watch nonetheless.

Then, one of the real highlights of the festival. At the Green Man Cafe, set in the grand courtyard of Glanusk Park Estate, John Stammers took to the stage with his band, and promptly blew minds. A superb and subtle mix of folk, country, jazz and psych, the trio created a reverential hush amongst the slack jaws of the crowd. Stammers’ single, The Fridge, was timeless and perfect, echoing John Martyn’s more tender moments, and recalling the gorgeous country of David Wiffen. So enraptured were the audience that John Stammers and band were demanded back for an encore. This was something that supposed ‘bigger’ act were unable to attain. This was, without doubt, one of the defining sets of the weekend, and it’s only a matter of time before John finds himself on the main stage.

To the main stage which saw another luminary of the Brit acid folk scene, Bert Jansch (formerly of Pentangle). Great numbers turned out to see him at work, as he picked his way through essentially a greatest hits set. ‘It Don’t Bother Me’ was met with one of the loudest cheers of the weekend, even though Bert’s voice isn’t what it used to be. There were fleeting moments during the set which saw Jansch’s voice reclaim former glories, but sadly, his previous ill health has ravaged the boom. It wasn’t a wash out however, as Jansch thrilled an audience considerably younger than he’ll be used to. The whole set was a success, albeit, one by the skin of his teeth.

Back in the Folkey Dokey tent, the main man of modern folk took to the stage to melt our hearts. Alasdair Roberts, purveyor of medieval death ballads and pal of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, played a set to a stunned audience who were mostly unable to deal with the incredible array of songs performed by Roberts. ‘Sweet William’ teared hearts in two with a tale of lost love and heartbreak. The unusual thing about Roberts is his ability to tenderly sing a 17th Century ballad of complete abject sorrow, and make it life affirming and relevant. A note perfect performance from a perfect singer.

On the whole, this was the best Green Man yet (although I spent most of it jokingly saying it wasn’t as good as last year). The line-up was the strongest it’s ever been, and a fabulous mixture of styles (not all folk) and performers. Too many high points to pick one band out, and the rain was the closest thing to a downside… although nobody even cared. Roll on Green Man 2007.

Mof Gimmers

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One Response to “Live Review – The Green Man Festival (Sunday)”

  1. Richard Says:

    well said, it was a great day!

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