Green Man Festival 2015, reviewed by Ben Gregory from Blaenavon.

If Reading & Leeds is your skimmed milk, then Green Man can only be your cream: rich, indulgent and perfect with coffee. It would be easy to spend the weekend perched on top of the black mountains, grazing with an outcast ewe and still leave the site with a tangible sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately for the real naturists out there, the music was simply too good to miss.

Among the early afternoon sets were performances by bands ready to take on the mantle of the departing golden-oldies. Ultimate Painting blissfully walked us through a daily New York routine in 'Central Park Blues', whilst Viet Cong's bass "felt like a buttered baby in a tumble drier". With the likes of St. Vincent and Television, it was a weekend stuffed with virtuoso guitar work, which Songhoy Blues effortlessly matched, completing their set with a 10-minute rendition of the brilliant 'Soubour'.

The Staves were able to light up the Mountain Stage on Sunday afternoon with their exquisite harmonies; a sound gorgeously captured in their video session. However, perhaps the real story of the festival was the triumphant homecoming of Meic Stevens. The Welsh psych-folk legend lamented over the "people as rich as countries", who'll "even abuse art". To him art and music are "sacrosanct" with his ultimate goal being "to make people smile": something reflected in his warming performance in the Brecon Beacons' sun.

Someone with a slightly less hopeful world-view was Mark E. Smith, who, in his public conversation, led a personal requiem over the death of the unflavoured crisp. When it came to The Fall's performance, it was certainly not to be missed: Smith's wailing, mic-beating madness was one of the weekend's most bizarre spectacles. A stark contrast can be drawn between this and Television's incredibly tight and enthralling rendition of 'Marquee Moon': a festival highlight.

By the time Sunday evening had rolled on the odd melancholic eye could be seen, not ready to bid farewell. This feeling is palpable, occurring every year at Green Man before the final headliner takes to the stage and the Green Man himself is torched. In St. Vincent, the mountain crowd witnessed a spectacular performance, worthy of closing any festival. The routines were slick, Clark's speeches enrapturing, her guitars thundering and vicious. Immersed in darkness, it was an astral experience.

To put Green Man in a muddy box with all other British festivals does it a disservice. It's a cut above the rest: its aura friendly yet revelling and its surroundings a mountainous edifice, perfectly suited to house artists and performers of this caliber. It's wonderful, and its return cannot come soon enough.

Now, for a healthy dose of photography-based excellence from Mathew Parri Thomas and Jess Colquhoun:


Jess Colquhoun

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Mathew Parri Thomas

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