Mowbird & Andy Hickie storm the Green Man Festival
Last weekend we were at the tenth annual Green Man Festival in the Black Mountains to witness great sets from local acts Mowbird and Andy Hickie. There are reviews of each performance below but firstly we’ll give you an overview of our (very) wet weekend in Wales!
The Green Man site is in the Brecon Beacons. This means that there will invariably be some rain during the festival. This year the rain turned the site into a mud bath. This was again more than made up for by the stunning location of the site. The sun did come out on Saturday which gave everyone a welcome chance to dry out!
Perhaps a little more more thought could have been given to bringing in more temporary walk-ways around the site (given the gloomy forcast and undulating landscape) but hey! we have been to the Green Man several times before and love the festival, so we knew what to expect.
Getting over the swampy site we witnessed some brilliant performances over the weekend. The standout sets were the huge soundscapes created by Yann Tiersen and Mogwai. The Bees (who clashed with Mogwai) also stood out as one of the bands of the weekend. Adam Buxton’s Bug was also brilliant on the Thursday night (he somehow managed to get a huge crowd staring at youtube comments on a big screen).
The ‘strangest performance of the weekend award’ goes jointly to Michael Kiwanuka covering Jimi Hendrix and Van Morrison’s jazz/swing version of Brown Eyed Girl (right after each other on Saturday evening).
We would normally spend more time reviewing the bands that played however this year our focus is (quite rightly!) on the two local acts who took to the stage at the festival.
Mowbird destroyed the Swn stage on Friday. Their mix of fuzzy guitars and bass, warped synths and off-kilter vocals boomed around the walled garden like a twisted Weezer (with tourettes).
They played to an enthusiastic crowd in what can only be described as torrential rain. Many more onlookers watched the band from the relative dryness of the nearby bar.
Highlights of their set included ‘We Sell Maternity Swimwear’ and a cover of ‘Way No Way’ (a charming little number about Ross and Chandler’s band in Friends) by label mates Sex Hands. The two bands release a split single on Popty Ping later in the year.
Vocalist Ben Sawin’s genuine and non pretentious onstage banter went down a storm including a passing mention of his new guitar (a birthday present from band mates and friends played for the first time at the festival).
Mowbird’s onstage proclamation that the Green Man was their first outdoor gig would have been a surprise for many watching. Their assured performance of discordant slacker pop brightened up a very rainy and muddy Friday.
The other local act Andy Hickie finally realised a personal ambition last Saturday when he performed on the Solar Powered Stage in Einstein’s Garden.
Einstein’s Garden is (unsurprisingly) a science inspired area of the site that mainly features interesting talks and has numerous individual displays and attractions (such as giant hula-hoops and a solar powered cinema).
We were therefore amazed that Andy managed to briefly turn the area in to a singing, dancing (sunny) spectacular!
Einstein’s Garden was packed (perhaps due to a huge turnout of wrexhamites and Andy having unofficially played around the big campfire at all the previous Green Man festivals).
Andy was joined by a whole host of performers including regular Merry Maiden Ben (Camera/Mowbird) on Bass and dancing children!
At one point Andy Hickie had a huge choir onstage (including his wife Mel who he met at the Festival a few years ago).
Andy Hickie’s mix of traditional folk (think Fairport Convention) and simply told heartfelt tunes (his Smile song) had everyone enthralled.
While we don’t quite believe Andy had an agreement with the sun to shine for his set (which it did!) he was almost certainly one of the surprise highlights of many people’s weekend.
All in all we had another brilliant weekend at the Green Man Festival and look forward to next year!
For more information about the Green Man Festival visit their website.
Andrew is an editor and writer for wrexhammusic.co.uk and promotes the wrexhammusic.co.uk nights.