Thursday, 27 August 2009

Green Man

This week has been one of recovery and contemplation after all the cider and the genuine free-for-all that is Green Man festival. It's certainly one of the very best of its kind, and only really competing with End Of The Road for most genuinely enjoyable summer festival.

The line up this year was (as usual) staggering - amongst the notables were Grizzly Bear, Dent May, Animal Collective, Gang Gang Dance, Beach House and Blue Roses - but there were a couple of events over the course of the weekend that really encapsulated the entire atmosphere there. Being labelled by the broadsheets as 'the ultimate boutique festival' seems far more of an insult than a compliment to these ears. Still, the number of children there with their families getting to hear some genuinely innovative music is a pretty inspiring thing - especially when it's from Zun Zun Egui and Dirty Three, both of whom were head and shoulders above the rest of the weekend's line up. Dirty Three can continue to stake their claim as one of the greatest live bands I've ever had the pleasure to see, and Warren Ellis is, if anything, getting even wittier as a performer.

One performance really captured the spirit of Green Man more than any other - and it wasn't even an officially booked one. West Country wanderer Men Diamler turned up with the rest of the paying punters but also decided to bring along his guitar and play a couple of impromptu sets near the main stage. And he was fantastic - his album Sea Shanties For The Far Inland is well worth getting hold of. Below is my take, originally written for Muso's Guide.

Saturday starts with one of the surprise highlights of the weekend – an impromptu and defiantly unofficial unplugged set from Men Diamler. Over the course of its forty-five minute length the growing crowd is moved from location to location around the grounds, following pied piper Diamler’s quite incredible voice. There’s a touch of peculiarly British eccentricity about his demeanour, dressed for the occasion and accompanied by his battered old nylon-string guitar. He finishes, sat on a camping chair, with a singalong and a Jacques Brel cover in a style that ties his performance firmly to our folk-song-as-storytelling heritage. It’s pretty inspiring that an artist this exciting can just turn up, perform and compel just as much as most of the booked acts.

I covered the event for MG: the full review (plus another take from Sam Cleeve) is here.

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