In the valleys of the Brecon Beacons, one of the UK’s best festivals is limbering up for its 15th instalment. Anybody who has paid a visit to Green Man Festival since its inception in 2003 knows that few British festivals can boast as relaxed and friendly an atmosphere. It has successfully managed its growth over that period too, slowly expanding its capacity without ever compromising on the special alchemy that made it so appealing in the first place. This year has proven to be especially popular, with tickets selling out in record time. But what is on offer this time around?
The top line of headliners sees alt-rock goddess PJ Harvey in a UK festival exclusive. It’s hard to believe that Polly Jean hasn’t played the site before, but with over a year since the release of ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’ and a few new songs appearing in recent months, we are excited to know what she has in store for her Sunday night slot. Joining her headlining the Mountain Stage are the uber-prolific, shape-shifting Ryan Adams on Saturday night, as part of his tour supporting current album ‘Prisoner’, and the ever-mysterious Future Islands on Friday, whose frontman Samuel Herring is sure to inspire some regrettable dance move imitations across the site in the early hours of Saturday morning.
As ever with festivals of the quality of Green Man, the real joy is in exploring the depths of the line-up, and with this one, you would be spoiled for choice. This year’s Green Man Rising winner is Siobhan Wilson, winning the annual competition to open proceedings on the Mountain Stage on Friday. Her beautiful folk-rock hybrid was tailor-made for such surroundings and is likely to draw a sizeable crowd of new fans.
Elsewhere on Friday, the giddy smile count will be high in the Far Out Tent, with Madrid garage pop pixies Hinds continuing to enjoy the experience of being in a band more than anyone ever has. Recent Mercury Prize nominees The Big Moon and Japanese heavyweight wizards Kikagaku Moyo will ensure that the riffs are out in force too, whilst the alternative poet laureate Kate Tempest will bring proceedings to a close with poignant and rousing truth-bombs. Competition is high though, with Pumarosa, creators of one of the year’s best debut albums, headlining the bustling Walled Garden after the sun goes down.
The newly christened Oh Sees (not sure what suddenly became so burdensome about the ‘Thee’) will pulverise the Far Out Tent on Saturday night, as will, in a different way, Melt Yourself Down at the Walled Garden. At the other end of the spectrum, genuine British folk legend Shirley Collins continues her remarkable re-emergence into the spotlight after a 38-year absence, and her Mountain Stage set on Saturday afternoon will be absolutely unmissable.
The quality doesn’t slow on Sunday either. Richard Dawson has made one of the outstanding albums of 2017 with ‘Peasant’ and returns to the festival sure to enchant and mesmerise with his incomparable storytelling style. Alternatively, Julie Byrne, Julia Jacklin and Conor Oberst will be competing in the confessional singer-songwriter ranks. London quartet Madonnatron, closely associated with Fat White Family, are worth a detour to the Rising Stage on Sunday too, for those of a more adventurous disposition.
Of course, it isn’t all about the music. Einstein’s Garden returns to power our curiosity and imagination, whilst the Little Folk area provides entertainment for the young ‘uns that most festivals can’t compete with. A packed line-up of writers and thinkers at the Babbling Tongues stage and an impressive roll call of comedians on the Last Laugh Comedy stage all add up to provide, frankly, too much choice for three days of your life.
And that’s not even to mention the activities on Thursday, now an extensive day of festivity in its own right. Shoegaze vets Ride, jazz crossover scoundrels BadBadNotGood and electronic-classical savant Anna Meredith just a few of the big names turning out on the Far Out Stage before the main stage even gets under way. If you can’t find enough in this list of performances to give you one of the best weekends of your year, then maybe music festivals aren’t for you!
The festival will take place from 17th to 20th August.