Green Man 2013 festival review

'A mesmerising festival with something for everyone'

Photographer:Trevor Eales

Helen Giles - 19 August 2013

Arriving in the mystical setting of the Black Mountains on a dreary Thursday afternoon, watching the mixture of couples, families and friends young and old unload their belongings into rusty wheelbarrows, it was hard to predict what this 4-day event would have in store.

With stages for pretty much anything imaginable (even a sports tent?!), the instant impression that springs to mind is that the organisers have tried to do too much - there is no way that any festival can include all of these different areas and activities and still maintain a level of serenity amongst festival-goers. But you couldn't have been more wrong...

Now in its eleventh year, Green Man have really gone all out to make sure there is something for everyone, and with staggering results. Spread out over 8 different areas within the picturesque Glanusk estate, children can enjoy the fun and frolics of the numerous activity workshops whilst parents can embrace the vast array of music, comedy and even trapeze acts while sipping on some of the fine real ale being served in the Courtyard garden. Green Man has always been known as a family run and orientated festival, and this is what makes it so individual. The setting and the chilled out vibes create a sense of togetherness, with no trouble anywhere in sight, and with all abiding by the 'Green Man Code' it has got to be one of the most well-kept arenas and campsites ever seen. Everything about it was both considerate and loving.

The only trouble now is how to possibly include exactly everything that is happening in order to create the Green Man painting in your minds.

As far as the music is concerned, the festival got off to a strong start on the Thursday night, even with only two stages open. Patti Smith's (10/10) incredibly powerful yet delicate set created ripples of sweet emotion throughout the Far Out stage. Her moments of pure philosophical genius touched the hearts of loyal fans, not to mention hypnotise those new to her gritty, soulful sound. Accompanied by incredibly talented musicians, you were definitely aware that you were in the presence of a rock legend. 

Heading over to the always well received and very experienced Chai Wallahs tent on the Friday night for a cheeky Brandy Chai and a Blueberry shish to warm the chill from the bones, was when one of the festival's surprise acts was discovered. Will & The People (9/10) bring the reggae groove and skanking beats that were needed to revive people from a tranced state of being, energising all those in ear shot. The crowd go insane, waving arms and lifting knees, while the former Green Man Rising champions showed the reason why they won their slot on the stage. Their rendition of ATB's '9pm Til I Come' just showed what they could do - anything these guys seem to get their hands on can be re-created into something Marley would be envious of, no matter the genre, a winner with all in attendance. 

Zervas and Pepper (9/10) opened the Mountain stage on an overcast Saturday afternoon and eased the audience into the third day with elegant melodic riffs and soft, heavenly vocal harmonies. It is hard not to feel completely relaxed listening to this modernised folk-inspired set. The combination of the rustic acoustic guitar, clean wisps of the keyboard and the subtle yet prominent licks of the electric guitar (all performed effortlessly) creates this unique sound. They really have proven that their slot on the main stage is well and truly deserved.

Closing the Mountain stage on the final evening of Green Man is none other than Ben Howard (10/10). It's amazing how his success and popularity has escalated over the past 2 years, going from performances in quaint acoustic venues to headlining a major music event, and you can see how this has happened. As the stage blends in to the clear night’s sky, the gentle twinkling of dull lights slowly brightens to reveal the sound of the delicately plucked guitar strings of 'Every Kingdom'. The way Ben Howard commands an arena into a sea of calm is incredible to watch, and you can see in his face how immersed he is in the music and the moment, portraying such raw emotion that only adds to soft and soothing symphonies filling the mountains. 'Only Love' brings neighbours together linking arms and swaying to sweet symphonies that bring tears to even the hardest of eyes, while the more up-beat 'The Fear' closes, helping warm even the coldest of toes. This spellbinding set captures the essence of Green Man - love, peace with an incredible feeling of self-belief. 

It is really hard to put into words how well thought out and mesmerising this festival really is. With attention paid to every single detail, from the design and branding of the different stages to the position of some of the best food stalls ever tasted, everyone involved has created what could only be described as a forest fantasia of music and entertainment. Green Man is in a league of its own, you need to be there to believe it. 

Click here for our Green Man 2013 photo album.

Check out our full festival weekend coverage here.

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