In previous years, the organisers of the Green Man hired a team of druids to perform sacred rituals to stop it from raining.
Thousands of sodden, mud-spattered festival-goers could tell you just how effective those rituals were. This year the druids stayed away and so did the rain. The Green Man has moved from being an eccentric folk festival to one of the key events on the calendar and although it may have lost some of its early wildness, it also works extremely well.
Held in a beautiful valley in the Brecon Beacons, it features a mix of sweary comedians, literary talks, child and teenager-friendly events and many, many indie rock bands. A lot goes on in a relatively small space, which means it was possible to happen upon an hilarious self-help session on getting through difficult books hosted by Andy Miller, author of The Year of Reading Dangerously, before watching a progressive rock band called Suns of the Tundra perform a thunderous live score to a screening of South, the film of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated journey to the Antarctic. And there was a mood of good cheer throughout.
Sometimes the bonhomie could get cloying, such as when a dull American rock band called Augustines told everyone how much they loved Green Man when you knew they had only arrived on site a few hours earlier. More genuine self-expression came from Julie Byrne, a Seattle singer whose reflective, subdued set of poetic songs in the Walled Garden brought to mind a young, female, much better-looking Leonard Cohen.
There are no huge acts at Green Man, but Philadelphia’s the War on Drugs played a huge set. Their 2014 album Lost in the Dream, a distorted take on classic rock from introverted leader Adam Granduciel, marked their breakout moment and Granduciel celebrated that with all manner of squealing guitar solos on the Mountain Stage. Songs borne of Granduciel’s neuroses such as Red Eye and Under the Pressure, coming just the sun sank below the mountains (well, hills) in the distance, sounded panoramic but personal. They epitomised Green Man 2014: accessible and professional, yet with enough character to offer something more than mere escapism.