Green Man festival | Pop review

Glanusk Park, Brecon Beacons

Under this weekend's sunshine – the previous two years have been very damp – Green Man's country-estate location felt glorious. And this folk-tinged event, in its seventh year, had a splendid shot at the festival holy grail: to feel like a mix of village fete and groovy freakout.

Peggy Sue provided an early musical highlight, pulling out an eerie Missy Elliott cover and playing hypnotic folk. Friday's headliners Animal Collective can be a splendid, slow-burning live act, but here, their collaged sonic journey, with its tribal crescendos and spooky harmonics, felt too aimless.

On Saturday afternoon, Glasgow's Phantom Band showed how dance-rock should be done, playing punchy riffs and great moody epics, Rick Anthony's voice booming with heavy-metal menace over a bounding backing. Bon Iver's cabin-penned laments, surprisingly, seemed almost as robust: this is bruised, soulful songwriting, performed with vigour.

In the headline slot, meanwhile, Jarvis Cocker was the perfect host, arch and genial. Black Magic was euphoric, but elsewhere Cocker's two decent solo records don't quite provide the fuel for a crowning set; it might have been nice to have a few Pulp songs to chew on, but Cocker's populist streak has always been tempered by bloody-mindedness.

Sunday brought drizzle, but there were still fine highlights. A short walk from Camera Obscura's literate pop took you to the pub stage, where Brooklyn two-piece She Keeps Bees played crunching blues-rock as festival-goers drank cider and jiggled their heads, happy to be a part of a wonderfully uplifting weekend.


James Smart

The GuardianTramp

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