near Crickhowell, Wales
My top ten performances at Green Man this year, in no particular order:
Laura Lexx – This Brighton-based comedian explained to us why netball is a practical joke being played on all girls. She enlightened us, in side splitting fashion, as to how sexual stereotypes are reinforced at primary school. Why do boys (“outy genitals”) get to play football, whilst girls (“inny genitals”) get to play a game with a confusing number of lines, little interaction, the need to wear bibs and which also provides few chances of being able to strike up a conversation about it down the pub later in life?
Hurray For The Riff Raff – With a set comprising songs almost exclusively from this year’s excellent “The Navigator”, their lead singer, Alynda Segarra, was in great voice. They finished with Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark”. According to Segarra, he’s the only boss she listens to.
Billy Bragg in conversation with Anita Sethi – Promoting his new book “Roots, Radicals And Rockers: How Skiffle Changed The World” we were treated to various tales, including why John Peel invited Bragg to come to dinner with him and Lonnie Donegan in the late 1990s,and how skiffle was the 1950’s equivalent of punk. It finished with a rousing sing-along of Jerusalem.
Kate Tempest played the whole of her 2016 concept album “Let Them Eat Chaos”, an appropriate title for the times we live in. It was delivered with passion and anger. This was my surprise package of the festival, social commentary at its very best.
Lambchop – This was a minimalist line-up. Accustomed to seeing Lambchop as a 10 to 15 piece ensemble, it was a little disconcerting to see them reduced to Kurt Wagner, Tony Crow on piano, a bassist and an Apple Mac. However, it worked. Wagner’s songs may, to my mind, all melt into one, but his soothing voice, and the addition of a dash of electronica, made for a relaxing transition into the evening as the sun went down.
Ryan Adams was on good form. With a curate’s egg of a back catalogue to choose from, there was always going to be a few dips in the energy levels during a one hour 45 minute set. However, on the whole, he kept the crowd entertained and proved a worthy headliner on the Mountain Stage on Saturday night. My highlight was a cracking version of “Let It Ride” .
P. J. Harvey – Death, destruction, war and muddy fields, Polly Jean rolled out a show on Sunday night focused on “The Hope Six Demolition Project” and “Let England Shake”. A well-choreographed set proved a fitting end to end my musical intake at Green Man.
Sunflower Bean are fronted by the 20 year Julia Cumming on bass, who rather than studying classical singing, has pursued a career in rock’n’roll. The jangly tunes played by this New York three piece may not be particularly original, but they were good fun.
Conor Oberst – Backed by the Felice Brothers he played songs mainly from his “Salutations” album, with a few Bright Eyes classics thrown in, whilst joking (?) that his dad was the financial reason that he was able to go on the road with a band.
Julian Cope – There’s always a danger with Julian Cope that he’ll get the talk to song ratio wrong i.e. too much banter and not enough singing. However, he managed to get it spot on, succinctly entertaining us between songs, which encompassed his whole career. His set included picks from “Peggy Suicide”, “20 Mothers” and The Teardrop Explodes, played on acoustic guitars and a 51 year old mellotron.
The usual mix of ages and in general very polite.
It made me think..
After going to Green Man four years in a row I’m not sure if I’ll be attending next year. All my friends seemed to have “retired” from festivals!