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Review: Green Man 2012 – Saturday

Beki Kidwell


Before 6pm, Saturday is a total blur. I woke up with a migraine having had only two hours sleep and, hearing the plethora of over-energetic teenagers running around having been awake all night, was definitely beginning to feel my age. Whilst children’s elated screams could be heard around the general camping area from as early as 7am, everyone in their 20’s – including me – seemed dead to the world.

In the interval before BBC’s ‘Sound of 2012’ winner Michael Kiwanuka’s set, the sun came out and everyone packed into the Mountain stage arena, only to take up so much room that all anyone could hear was constant talking. Thankfully, after a few moments people started paying attention to the stage. Kiwanuka’s voice has often been described as ‘soulful’ and ‘full of faith’. This sense of faith clearly extends to his songs and lyrics, with every track sounding more sincere than the last. Although he looked nervous and, at first, sounded it – having been compared to Otis Redding, Randy Newman and Green Man 2012 compadre, Van Morrison, he really had nothing to be nervous about. Kiwanuka’s debut album Home Again, released March 2012, won the attention of the rather huge crowd instantly. I hardly saw a person move, let alone leave during his set. This could have simply been down to the sunshine, but with singles such as Bones and EP I’m Getting Ready setting the tone for the hour, I don’t think anyone planned on moving anywhere for a while.

And good thing we didn’t, really, because up next was headline act Van Morrison. I say ‘headline act’, yet his set had been moved back to the earlier slot of 7:30 – kicking off inevitable jokes about his old age and need to get home for an early night. Expectantly, the set opened with fan favourite Brown-Eyed Girl, triggering the arena to take to their feet and sing along – almost louder than Van-the-man himself. Sadly, after that great start, it all went a bit south. There seemed to be some technical issues with the volume – unless Van just didn’t feel like putting his mouth close to the microphone – and people began to disperse. The bars and camping areas became packed as everyone decided to take a few hours out from the sunny arena – with poor Van’s set promptly becoming treated as backing music to the parties going on behind the scenes.

It is in fact Devon based pop-quartet Metronomy that headline Saturday night with one of the most mind-boggling light shows of the day. Single’s The Bay and The Look emitted the most enthusiastic screams from the audience (and myself), with further songs from third studio album The English Riviera forming the perfect up-beat atmosphere for the end of the day. Although Metronomy were the final band at the Mountain stage, I’ve gone all topsy-turvy and decided to write more significantly about the artist on before them – because, apart from Mogwai, it was by far the best set I experienced all weekend.

Brittany-born composer, all-round musician and genius on the violin Yann Tiersen came on stage to a loud, bemused and slightly confused audience. Nobody really knew whether ‘Yann Tiersen’ was the name of the man or the band, but as he stepped into the spotlight, it became obvious that he was the only one people should’ve been paying attention to. Having spent 1993 composing a 40-piece, predominantly acoustic album with a touch of violin and accordion thrown in for good measure, Tiersen described the effect he intended to create as “musical anarchy”. Of course, anyone with a love for French cinema would know Yann Tiersen as the composer to Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s film Amelie (2001) and, much to my delight, Tiersen decided to play a couple from the soundtrack.

With his seventh studio album Skyline bringing us collaborations with the likes of Efterklang and Peter Broderick, Saturday night was getting off to a fantastic start. Tracks Monuments and The Gutter fell on open ears, with people’s mouths dropping to the floor as Tiersen took to his violin with intense passion and deeply emotional and almost seductive command. Many people became worried that Tiersen hadn’t noticed the broken strings on his bow, but realising it was all part of the sound made the set that much more powerful. Whispers of “that guy is a genius” circulated the crowds for the rest of the weekend, probably more-so by me than anyone else – still, the first thing I did when I got home was check my funds in order to buy as many of his albums as I could afford. Which I think everyone who appreciates really great music should do. And I mean everyone.

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