Gripes, praise, music and photos.
Update: Green Man TV. I remember now. It was brilliant.
At times this year Green Man felt like a rally for people so similar-minded that there was no need to say anything substantially political. Josie Long pretty much summed up my experience of the comedy and literature stage when she observed that all a stand-up comedian had to do to get their audience on side was to say they hate the Conservatives. Truly, out of my admittedly small sample, it’s all we got. Including from her, nice woman she is. And I won my bet that no fucker we heard pronouncing on the state of the nation would go anywhere near the Liberal Democrats. All the bad feeling was reserved for the Conservatives. It was if there was no coalition. The reason is that Green Man reads The Guardian and The Guardian laid foundations for this government everybody shapelessly and aimlessly hates, by telling us to vote Liberal Democrat.
Maybe I was doing something else at the times when the criticism of the Conservatives became trenchant and argued. What Josie Long said suggests it never did, though. All I saw were performers acting like they were the last remnant of some ancient British tribe consoling themselves in a valley surrounded by Daily Mail-reading Roman garrisons. And if there were any Conservatives or Daily Mail readers at Green Man’s literature and comedy stage, they won’t be returning in 2011 because they were assumed absent and lampooned. That pissed me off to an almost unspeakable extent – because in fact we are the ones who lost the political battle. Now we have to start again, and if politics isn’t changing minds, it’s nothing.
In a cranky conversation I started, a good friend told me that somebody who didn’t know me would assume I was right wing. True, there’s a kind of left – the kind that makes me homeless and others neo-conservative in protest – that I want to see wither. When Billy Bragg sings about power in a union, I think about how my institution’s student and staff unions swung militantly behind a campaign for funded scholarships for (only) Palestinian students, and yet allowed our nursery to close. And when he gets us to sing, with regards to African states, ‘just drop the debt and it will be alright’, I think it’s only responsible to consider the ramifications, same as I would for my, your, everybody’s household’s £90k debt, which nobody is proposing we drop. Only talking and singing about that – or that in general – is going to rekindle any home fires on the left (listening to Mike Skinner on the way home I wistfully imagined him getting into politics – sadly or maybe happily it’s skinner by name…).
But mostly Green Man is about music. For me there were two electrifying stand-out sets. Steve Mason was amazing and the atmosphere was amazing – here’s something he played, recorded here during his Beta Band days (and I was at that gig).
Local heroes (Essex, that is) These New Puritans were mindblowing. Imagine these live in the dark:
Then on Sunday I’d stamped off to the tent in bout of near-tears at being denied advertised vegan cake after queuing (it was that time of day, there been some smoking and a lot of rum), returned to find Matt and Rachel in actual tears after The Tallest Man on Earth had huddled with his friends on the Far Out stage to perform Gillian Welch’s ‘Everything is Free’.
For silly talent, dancing, and bouncy youth, Darwin Deez.
More photos. Yes of course it rained – the rain was heavy, and light, and prolonged. We all came prepared and nobody minded. Billy Bragg informed us it was pissing down at V. In between showers I got this (from inside my hood):
They say Green Man, with its natural amphitheatre and cloud-wreathed mountain backdrop, is the most scenic music festival:
The other lovely thing about Green Man is how many parents feel comfortable about bringing their children.
It’s fun, recommend it. Our friend got laid.
More comprehensive reviews: