Given the classic status I'd already awarded in my head to the last two Green Man festivals, there was always a fair chance that GM2018 would fall slightly short. This it duly did, though shortfalls elsewhere were generally compensated by a truly inspiring line-up in the Far Out marquee. Always the most energising of the Green Man's stages, this time it truly excelled itself to rescue this year's festival from what perhaps its first flirtation with mediocrity.
In line with much of this summer, it was a dry one this year, which was very welcome, though it does have its problems. I've written in previous reviews of the danger of the festival being embraced as little more than a posh camping weekend by some middle class families and the better weather this year brought that out. The Mountain Foot and Walled Garden stages both suffered from large numbers of patrons who downed seats, set up a picnic and didn't, it appeared, have a great deal of interest in the music that was set before them - it simply became a soundtrack to a pleasant weekend in South Wales.
Thus the atmosphere at both of these stages became heavily diluted and only a few artists managed to cut through it. At the main (Mountain Foot) stage, Cate Le Bon did it and, early on Sunday afternoon, a wonderful performance from Xylouris White combined majesty with discord and either made the picnickers sit up and take notice or else bugger off elsewhere. More of this at the Mountain Foot stage and we might have driven off the sitting arseholes and reclaimed the slopes earlier in the weekend.
The challenge wasn't greatly different in the Walled Garden, though again some artists overcame it. Stella Donnelly's performance, like Le Bon's, was fuelled by an underlying strength that belied the gentle acoustic veneer, while the riffs of Sacred Paws were genuinely uplifting. The Surfing Magazines, late on Sunday evening, were genuinely enjoyable, although there is a problem both in terms of people getting the joke and in how they execute the parody. Starting with a deliberately amateurish version of 'Roll Over Beethoven' might have been better had they kept it to one verse and launched into surf instrumental midway through. As it was, only when the band left the parodic elements to gestures between songs in the second half of the set did they truly dish out the quality more than hinted at on their debut album.