Live Review

Green Man 2013

The most beautiful festival around, according to every band, ever.

Photo: Jonathan Simpson
“This is the most beautiful festival we’ve ever played,” says Kings of Convenience during their spectacular Friday night headline slot. Midlake said it too earlier that evening. And Band of Horses said it on Saturday. And Local Natives on Sunday. In fact, by the end of Green Man 2013, it is a phrase that’s spouted out with such regularity that you wonder if it’s written into bands’ contracts before they agree to play.

Alas, it isn’t. No, Green Man really is just that beautiful. Surrounded by the stunning hills of Wales’ Black Mountains, the views from around the site are most definitely first-class. However, it’s the music on offer over the course of the weekend that proves to be most stunning of all.

Parquet Courts pack out the Far Out tent late on Friday afternoon, offering up their now well-established brand of insightful post-punk. Favourites ‘Stoned and Starving’ and ‘Master of my Craft’ get the crowd suitably energised, but the revealing of a few new numbers prove the real highlights. Midlake’s folk leanings suit the Mountain Stage sunset slot perfectly, and some beautiful backdrops and lighting trickery make their set all the more fitting. No trickery required for headliners Kings Of Convenience though, just two Norwegian blokes playing some damn good acoustic folk and winning over the crowd with their charming accents and funny hair. Afterwards, polar opposites Fuck Buttons are over at the Far Out tent making a shit-load of distorted noise over some psychedelic visuals. It’s pretty energetic stuff, and the noticeably younger crowd lap it up.

On to a rainy, cold Saturday, and the young boys of Blaenavon are in the Far Out tent being all quirky. Their guitar-led indie is decent enough, but the constant shout outs to friends in the crowd make it feel like they’re playing in their mates’ back garden and telling loads of in-jokes that nobody else gets. Over at the new Green Man Rising stage, Cardiff’s Radstewart sound a lot like Pavement, and as messy and raw as they are, it’s still damn near impossible not to enjoy. Later in the evening, The Horrors draw what is definitely the biggest crowd yet for their set on the Mountain Stage, before Band Of Horses power through the wonderful ‘Is There A Ghost’ and strip things down for ‘No One’s Gonna Love You’ and ‘The Marry Song’. A genuinely euphoric atmosphere encompasses the whole festival site. Smiles all round.

A beautifully sunny Sunday sees Fanfarlo delight the Mountain Stage with some Beirut-ish indie, horns and all. Singer Simon Balthazar proudly swigs and reviews various alcohols between songs, and in-turn drunkenly forgets some lyrics. Later in the afternoon at the Far Out tent, Melody’s Echo Chamber are still going through soundcheck fifteen minutes after they were meant to start. It’s worth the wait though. Powerful yet delicately melodic, their dream pop stylings are far more energetic and hard-hitting than on record, to spectacular effect. So much so that the much-anticipated turn of Unknown Mortal Orchestra feels a bit weak in comparison. Singer Ruban Nielson is clearly more comfortable behind the guitar than in front of the microphone (he visibly looked pained every time he approached the mic) and it leaves the songs feeling a bit flat. Luckily, Local Natives provide a final high-point with their evening slot on the Mountain Stage, putting on a highly emotive, passionate and powerful performance. They possess a distinctly more percussive sound live, and certainly don’t shy away from going all out on the energy front.

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