Hearing the sad but inevitable news recently that Green Man festival is being called off for 2020 has led to me putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to start writing again after a few years dormant. Further inspiration also came from listening to Adam Walton’s show on BBC Radio Wales – 16/05 which perfectly captured the mood and feelings towards the festival.
Due to the current situation throughout the world at present it is definitely the right decision for all festivals to be put on hold for this year. The announcement from the team behind Green Man was so genuine and heartfelt you can see how much this festival means to the organisers Ben and Fiona, the community and all of us that have ever attended this beautiful festival. This is not a festival about profit, and selling out to advertising, this is a true community event that every year brings together like minded individuals in the beautiful and tranquil setting of the Brecon Beacons.
My love affair with Green Man started in 2009 when I first ventured there with my wife to be at the time. My heart was instantly captured, the setting was magical and when you combine this with the music and the people that attend I fail to believe how anyones lives could not be changed by this festival. Every year the festival guarantees to push you beyond your wildest dreams, to introduce you to music that you may never have come across before, challenges you to open you heart and push your boundaries and fall in love with new discoveries that will stay with you for a life time. Of all the festivals I have been to over the years, I can honestly say that Green Man is my favorite. There is something incredibly magical about the idyllic setting of the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons that draws you in, and makes you want to come back year after year after year. All festivals should be about escapism and the setting of Green Man more than allows you to escape from everything else that may be going on in the world. For the time that you are there nothing else matters apart from spending time with those that matter to you surrounded by a scenery that makes you glad to be alive and to be spoilt with an abundance of incredibly good music. This is the only festival where I don’t have to be too hung up on a strict timetable for the day, as I feel confident that whatever stage I may be at there will be something that I will enjoy.
There are so many highlights and memories to share from Green Man over the years, although as with a lot of gigs and festivals the older you get the hazier the memory becomes and I am not proclaiming this to be an accurate picture of the bands throughout the years, so it is probably safer for me not to reference the years when recalling my memories.
Super Furry Animals were without a doubt a wonderful memory, especially the moment the heavens opened during Hello Sunshine, and did not stop coming down throughout the set, but did that stop anyone having a great time … of course not. If anything the weather just added to the moment, and seeing the rain through the stage lighting just made what was already a special moment even more so. Bill Ryder Jones giving us a sombre reflective set whilst he was being attacked by wasps during the year of the wasps at Green Man is another memory. Sweet Baboo has had so many amazing moments at the festival, seeing him progress to the mountain stage the year Boombox ballads came out was more than the genius that is Stephen Black deserved. Seeing Meilyr Jones on the Mountain stage will also stay with me for an eternity, this really was as perfect as pop gets.
Mercury Rev playing Deserter’s Song in full was yet amazing another Green Man moment. The festival has also belonged to Cate Le Bon who was there at my first Green Man and has, in the words of Pictish Trail (who has played at every Green Man Festival) on Adam Walton’s show, morphed into the most beautiful alien since David Bowie.
The list of artists is endless: Sharon Van Etten, Colorama, Conor Oberst, Flaming Lips, Doves, Ryan Adams, Laura Marling, Grandaddy, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, Ezra Furman, Band of Horses, Villagers, Sun Kill Moon, Teleman, Charles Bradley, Seazoo, Gulp, H. Hawkline, Toby Hay, Noah and The Whale, Kings of Convenience, Leisure Society, Ryley Walker, Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty, Ultimate Painting, Darren Hanlon, Emmy The Great, Neutral Milk Hotel, Kurt Vile, War on Drugs, First Aid Kit, John Mouse, Georgia Ruth Williams, Daughter, We Are Catchers, Mew. That list only just scratches the surface of the artists who I have had the pleasure of seeing at Green Man festival.
Although I haven’t been for 2 years it really doesn’t matter, once you have been to this festival it stays with you forever, you are part of the Green Man community. If you miss a year, 2 years or even 5 or more years you know its there, you know people are going and having their lives moved by having the pleasure of attending this event. Even though I didn’t have tickets for this year’s festival, knowing that the option of going is no longer there makes me miss it more and has reignited my passion for Green Man. I have every intention of going back as soon as I can, and we will be going with our daughter who, aged 7, is now asking “can I go to Green Man” as she has heard us talk so much about it.
These words after my break from writing is my attempt to thank Green Man for all it has done for myself and so many others. Whilst we are in lockdown and staying safe, one of the things I miss is being surrounded by people with similar interests, you don’t have to be friends or even talk to people, it is just knowing that you are all there for the same reason and have a common bond running through you. That is exactly what you get with Green Man, seeing faces that you recognise from gigs over the years, or faces that you only see once a year at the festival and give a nod, knowing that you all share the same views and love for the place. I have no doubt the festival will be back stronger than ever when it is safe to do so.
PS – Thanks also needs to be given to Jo and Danny who of course started the festival in 2003. My writing above focuses on my time at Green Man which started in 2009, this is not to take anything away from those early years and if you want to read more about those early years please head to this wonderful site Indie Through The Looking Glass https://indiethroughthelookingglass.com/