Green Man Festival – Wales’ largest music festival, which continues to buck wider trends by selling out year on year in record time – came to a triumphant close last night (Sunday) with a thrilling headline set by Father John Misty, marking the final stop on his European tour.
Festival goers soon after made their pilgrimage up the hill to witness the annual burning of the 30ft handcrafted Green Man effigy, celebrating the end of the festival after four sunny days of music, performance and arts.
Green Man this year sold out in record time once again, and the festival delighted and surprised 20,000 returning Green Man fans and newcomers at the foot of the stunning Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons.
Sharon van Etten, performing on the Mountain Stage on Sunday night, said:
“I love Green Man so much… it’s an honour to be here, we first came here about five years ago and we’re sorry it’s been so long, but it’s incredible to be back”.
The final day of Green Man began with the Mountain Stage bathed in glorious sunshine to the sound of Self Esteem performing songs from her acclaimed debut album, Compliments Please. Ezra Collective’s unique brand of joyful party-starting jazz lit up the Far Out tent later on, and the inimitable Sharon van Etten took to the Mountain Stage as the sun set over the Black Mountains for an unforgettable set.
Nilüfer Yanya’s dreamy indie-pop enraptured the evening crowd in the Walled Garden, and IDLES’ famously unparalleled live show resulted in one of the weekend’s biggest crowds at Far Out. The Growlers, Eels, and Skinny Pelembe also proved highlights of the weekend on stages across the festival.
Saturday had seen festival goers treated to a truly special headline set from Four Tet at the Mountain Stage complete with a full light and laser show, marking his first ever time headlining an outdoor festival.
Four Tet was preceded by incredible shows from Stereolab and Mercury-nominated jazz group Sons of Kemet. Australian rising star Stella Donnelly practised her Welsh in her typically hilarious stage patter on the Mountain Stage, before heading to the Green Man Records tent where she performed a secret set including a cover of Blondie’s ‘Time After Time’ and signed records for lucky fans. Jarvis Cocker drew a huge crowd at the Talking Shop for his long-awaited return to Green Man, reflecting on his distinguished life and career, before playing a secret DJ set at Round the Twist.
Also at the Talking Shop, Richard Thompson spoke in conversation with MOJO and Emma Jane Unsworth, author of Animals which has recently been adapted into an acclaimed film starring Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat, discussed their careers and achievements. Elsewhere, a host of 2019’s breakthrough stars, including Scalping, Jockstrap, Beabadoobee, Porridge Radio, Black Country: New Road, and Art School Girlfriend performed rapturously received sets across the site, and The Big Moon were joined onstage by the Green Man Royal Mail postmen, where lead singer Juliette Jackson was proposed to onstage by her onsite postman boyfriend after meeting at Green Man five years ago.
Friday saw the winners of the Green Man Rising competition, Jerry, take to the Mountain Stage to kick off the weekend of music, with performances across the day from the always compelling Fat White Family, the stirring alternative country breakthrough talent Julia Jacklin, and the Chicago-based country soul stars Whitney, before the unparalleled Yo La Tengo performed a storming set as Friday night’s headliners. Elsewhere, Green Man first timers Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs and Squid were some of the most talked about sets of the weekend, Khruangbin joined Maribou State onstage for a surprise collaboration performance, and over on the Last Laugh comedy stage, festival goers were treated to sets by Rob Deering, Matt Rees and Mawaan Rizwan.
Away from the music stages, the festival’s pioneering science and education area, Einstein’s Garden, once again showcased discussions, stalls and experiments for kids and adults alike, and Green Man welcomed a unique programme of Visual Art including spellbinding installations from Hazel Brill, Sean Harris and Jennifer Taylor. This year’s jam-packed Cinedrome schedule included the acclaimed Wild Rose, starring Jessie Buckley, as well as showings of old classics including Thelma and Louise.
The Little Folk children’s area continues to pioneer family-centric fun at UK festivals with a broad programme of entertainment and interactive exhibitions; this year’s theme was Outer Space.
Families were the first to stream into the site when the Settlement opened on Monday, for 5,000 enthusiastic festival goers (up from 3,000 last year) who turned their festival experience to a 7-day holiday in Wales. The Settlers warmed up for the festival with a programme of workshops, guided walks, bike riding, canoeing and adventures in the mystical Welsh countryside.
The Welsh Beer & Cider festival in The Courtyard kept festival-goers lubricated with the finest local beverages, with more than 150,000 pints being sunk across the weekend.
All in all a fantastic weekend – here’s to 2020!
Image credit: Pam Thomas