Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Greenman Festival 2009

After coming to this festival for a few years now, I can assuredly say that it really is my most favourite. Started in 2003 as a one-day, 300 people capacity event, Greenman has evolved into a superb weekend.

Greenman boasts a stunning location in Glanusk Park in the Brecon Beacons, near Abergavenny in Wales. There’s nothing nicer that having a beautiful view of lush greenery and dewey mountains as the backdrop to a vast array of the best in entertainment.

It is an absolute mystery why Greenman doesn’t have to barricade itself against hordes of music fans every year. The beauty of this weekend, once a year, is the understatement and modesty of it all. Greenman just goes along quietly, delighting all that come across it. There’s not another festival in the same league.
Past headliners have included Donovan, Robert Plant, Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, Spiritualized, Super Furry Animals, Pentangle, Animal Collective and Bon Iver, not to mention the cacophony of other acts that play- from the best in new music to classic greats. This year’s line up does not disappoint- Joanna Newsom, Beirut, and Flaming Lips are to top the main stage, joined by Billy Bragg, Fionn Regan and Pete Greenwood to name a few.

The whole festival is set round a stone house and its walled gardens. The main stage is at the bottom of a hill, making a natural amphitheatre and also providing a beautiful backdrop of mountain. Smaller stages are tucked away in walled gardens, making the whole experience really intimate.

The actual festival-goers that frequent Greenman are a pretty nice folk. Generally I find that it’s people who really love music, and being outdoors listening to music, and being with other people. There’s always a lovely train journey up to Abergavenny, the classic shuttle bus to the festival from the station (which is FREE!) and also a great opportunity to meet lots of people. Totally family friendly, student friendly, couple friendly, people who just want to be there friendly, Greenman is super relaxed, super fun and super duper brilliant.

Greenman this year was my favourite yet, like in a dream golden sunlight poured down through the whole weekend, nights were long and days were filled. It was my first time off work since the beginning of summer, and in an exhausted haze I remember Animal Collective beating through the first night- I fell asleep standing up, but happy.
The line-up was excellent, special highlights being aforementioned Animal Collective, Bon Iver, Peggy Sue, Vetiver, Joe Gideon and the Shark, Beach House, Andrew Bird, Golden Animals. (more lineup info on I wasn’t disappointed with a single act I chose to go and watch, each one totally different and each one extremely good.

Joe Gideon and the Shark

Other highlights were the Chai Waller tent- hot brandy chais, mulled wine, and extremely quirky live music; and the brilliant idea of showing animations and short films in the mornings for kids and parents. There was also an ‘Einstein’s Garden’, with art, green issues, science and FUN; life drawing classes, and a great children’s area. And if you fancied a break from festival-ing, there are many mountains to trek up, rivers to swim in, or places to walk to. You can now even get a ‘Holiday Ticket’, allowing you to camp in a special section of the festival site for three days before the festival begins- so you can explore the beauty of Abergavenny, or just simply relax.

I would not be one to miss this years festival. For a start, Joanna Newsom’s newly released triple album is astonishing. The chance to see Beirut is a sacred one and live I am sure he will greatly impress. I can’t even begin to imagine what sort of a show Flaming Lips put on. Not to mention all the other bands, the scenery, the sheer holidaying spirit.

Just a few of who's playing:

Joanna Newsom's '81, track from the album 'Have One On Me'.

Beirut's Postcards From Italy.

First Aid Kit- Heavy Storm. These two sisters are just 16 and 19, I can't wait to see them live.

Fionn Regan- Put a Penny in the Slot

Find more information at
Words- Ali Hewson

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