Nestled between the west bank of the river Usk and the eastern side of the Monmouth and Brecon canal, protected by the gently rolling hulk of the Black Mountains, and boasting the best selection of beers and ciders at any festival I’ve ever been too, Green Man is much more than a music event. Here follows markontour’s review of the bliss that was Green Man 2022.
Preen, Friday 12.15, Rising
”Does anyone in love get anything done?”, asked this lyrically engaging trio at one point. Great harmonies, top drumming, dynamic bass and a beautifully voiced female lead vocalist. I’d like to hear more.
Sing with Seamus, Friday 12.45, Chai Wallah
Not strictly a performance, but an actor called Seamus leading a group of festival-goers in round-singing, including a self-penned number inspired by William Blake’s habit of wandering around his garden naked.
The Big Tree Walk, Friday lunchtime
Again, not a performance but it was a lovely hour or so wandering around the Glanusk estate learning how to recognise one species of tree from another. I remember that all parts of the Yew are poisonous except its berry – although the seed inside the berry contains cyanide! And you can measure the age of an oak in hug-widths, with one hug equalling 100-150 years.
Grove, Friday 5pm, Far Out
Fiery, political hip-hop from a Bristolian female duo. This was cracking high-energy stuff, with a big shout out to trade unions that got an enthusiastic crowd response.
Kae Tempest, Friday 6pm, Mountain Stage
I didn’t mean to watch their performance but I stopped on my way to the bar and was utterly mesmerised, as I have been every other time I have seem them. Intense and powerful.
English Teacher, Friday 7.30pm, Rising
Not yet the finished article but very musically accomplished punkish tunes (not sure you can actually combined those two things). Perhaps they were trying to do too much in some songs.
Jessie Buckley and Bernard Butler, Friday 8.15pm, Walled Garden
I missed Public Service Broadcasting for this, so they had to be good. They were. A showcase for Buckley’s incredible voice and Butler’s guitar skills. The songs were slow but Buckley was full of jokes and energy in between. I loved the moment when she invited a small boy on stage, only for him to demand his mouth-agape Dad join too. Was I the only person surprised to find that Jessie Buckley is Irish, not the Scot of her character in Wild Rose? That’s acting I suppose
Dry Cleaning, 9.20pm, Far Out
Seeing Dry Cleaning live you realise there is much, much more to them than clever lyrics. Guitarist, Tom Dowse, drives the band with his riffs and constant on-stage motion. Singer, Florence Shaw, mostly stays in character and affects quirky aloofness. But they are too good and as an audience we loved them too much for her mask not to slip into an occasional smile.
Balimaya Project, 10pm Friday, Walled Garden
A 16-piece folk-jazz band, doing West African Mande music. Wonderful. And not Kraftwerk, whom I don’t need to see ever again.
The Green Man Pop Quiz, midday Saturday, Babbling Tongues
Enjoyed but struggled. I’m looking now at the answer sheet I was too embarrassed to hand in. Bizarrely I only seem to have fully completed the Recipe Round. I was on my own. And I did get Kraftwerk in the cryptic picture round..
Alice Low, 2.45pm Saturday, Rising
I couldn’t immediately remember this band when writing this review 2 months later. 1 second of a video and I’m thinking “how could I have forgotten!!!!”. Alice is a trans woman who was born to perform. GreenMan described her debut single, Ladydaddy as sounding as if “David Bowie, Sparks, Scott Walker, John Grant and Anohni came together to make a song”!
Richard King and Gwenno, 3pm Saturday, Babbling Tongues
The legendeary Welsh/Cornish singer/songwriter, Gwenno, chatting about Welsh independence and Richard King’s amazing contemporary Welsh history book, Brittle with Relics.
Frazey Ford, 4.45pm Saturday, Mountain Stage
This was blissful country-folk from the former Be Good Tanya. One just to soak up and drift away.
Katy J Pearson, 6.15pm Saturday, Mountain Stage
Joyful. So amazing to see Katy J go from an ecstatic reception in the Walled Garden last year, to an equally rapturous response on the main stage. Even better than her Glastonbury performance, aided in the crowd-response stakes by an appreciatively-rowdy gaggle of inflatable cow carrying mates front of the stage.
Willie J. Healy, 11.15pm Saturday, Walled Garden
I quite liked his album during lockdown but this was a different class. Battery re-charging late night entertainment, full of guitars, attitude, I think I recall a tinge of soul, and great lyrics.
Carwyn Ellis and Rio18 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, 12 noon Sunday, Mountain Stage
A sublime start to the final day. Carwyn Ellis seems to be everywhere in Welsh alternative music, as a producer, performer and collaborator. With Rio18 he melds Brazilian musical genres with Welsh language and, backed by the BBC Welsh orchestra, he has created a sound perfectly suited to a festival main stage.
Gruff Rhys, 3.15pm Sunday, Mountain Stage
It almost wouldn’t be allowed to have a Green Man Festival without Gruff. On this occasion the Super Furries’ front-man was showcasing his collaboration with xxx. Loved it
Mark Steel, 7.30pm Sunday, Babbling Tongues
Deservedly standing-room-only for Mark Steel who was as brilliant as always at making us laugh until hurt, while exposing the inequities of capitalist Britain.
Ezra Furman, 8.15pm Sunday, Mountain Stage
What a revelation! I’ve enjoyed Ezra Furman standing in for Guy Garvey on Radio 6, but never really taken the time to listen to her music properly. All that changed after this driving, passionate, Springsteen-esque drama of a set. Looking back, many of the tracks on Furman’s outstanding, subsequently released, new album were showcased here with such conviction and ferocity that they lodged in my head even on first listen.
Michael Kiwanuka, 10.15pm Sunday, Mountain Stage
It was cruel that the pandemic deprived Kiwanuka of a live audience after winning the Mercury Prize, but he seems to have sustained his creative peak and his voice sounded incredible from the Mountain Stage..