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Green Man 2022 review: A weekend of magic in the Brecon Beacons

Twenty years in, Green Man is still proving to be one of the country's best festivals.

4.0 rating

By Hollie Hilton

Crowd at Green Man's Mountain Stage, Wales.
Mountain Stage at Green Man 2022 (Picture: Patrick Gunning)

On its twentieth anniversary, Green Man has proved yet again why it’s the most well-oiled of festival machines. Not literally of course, the festival has won deserved plaudits for its adherence to strict sustainability values, including 100% use of renewable energy and a zero-landfill policy. 

But for music and a full programme of events, you’ll struggle to match the variety at the Brecon Beacons festival’s birthday bash. Metronomy, Kraftwerk, Beach House and Michael Kiwanuka all prove worthy headliners, but it’s only one half of the story. 

For a festival that has been deemed a ‘mini-Glastonbury’, where else would it be fitting to start your morning hugging a chicken, to then watch an exclusive live show of, Studio Ghibli-obsessed podcast, ‘Ghiblioteque’ before beginning your evening laughing along to Welsh comedians like Anna Thomas in the Babbling Tongues tent?

Crowd at Green Man's Mountain Stage, Wales.
Mountain Stage at Green Man 2022 (Picture: Patrick Gunning)

Still, the musical side of things show why the festival is such a draw. Yves Tumor &
Its Band prove a brilliantly experimental presence on Thursday, before Metronomy headline the Mountain Stage on Thursday night to a crowd of returning devotees who are well accustomed to the mesmerising Welsh mountain valley – a backdrop that could compete with the world class performers who precede it.

Yves Tumor jumps into the crowd at Green Man 2022
Yves Tumor in the crowd at Green Man 2022 (Picture: Nici Eberl)

Friday, meanwhile, lives up to the festival’s more chilled out demeanour with a line-up that largely kicks off in the afternoon. It’s a blessed opportunity to recuperate for those who enjoyed things a bit too much the night before, and a welcome chance for others to explore the site and potentially enjoy some of the alternative activities on offer. We experienced talks from Pride Cymru Director Dan Walsh on the fight for equality and inclusion for LGBTQ+ community in Wales and Kat Lister in conversation with author of ‘None Of The Above’, Travis Alabanza.

As the sun beamed down on the swarms who had finally arose from their hangover and travel-exhaustion-induced slumber it was only fitting, and appropriate post-noon, to check out The Courtyard. Naturally, I was gasping for a pint. Another nod to the local community is their mini cider and beer festival where I could whet my whistle with all kinds of Welsh brewed stouts, ciders and pale ales. The festival programmes even came with an ale checklist for those that like to turn beer-glugging into some kind of competitive sport.

An intimate surprise set from Jessie Buckley & Bernard Butler at the Green Man Record Store kept me going until South London wordsmith Kae Tempest awoken a sleepy crowd of sunbathers on the Mountain Stage with an encapsulating performance that, as is typical with festivals in 2022, brought at least a few members of the crowd to tears.

Crowd at Kraftwerk's Green Man 2022 performance.
Crowd adorn 3D glasses for Kraftwerk Live at Green Man 2022 (Picture: Parri Thomas)

After sundown, crowds flocked to the Mountain stage with 3D glasses at the ready for an ageless performance from electronic-pioneers Kraftwerk, where we were treated to an audio-visual feast of vintage Tour de France footage and flying saucers. A swift skip up the hill and past the Green Man himself meant I could catch the end of Welsh artist Cate Le Bon’s set which due to a clash with the aforementioned electronic gods, did not immediately draw as big a crowd as her latest record deserved.

The warmer weather unexpectedly proceeded into Saturday as wellies quickly turned into sandals and coats were imminently shed. Today’s lineup was full of promise, with highlights including Australian rockers Psychedelic Porn Crumpets who stormed into the Far Out tent around midday to an overflowing crowd. Later on the same stage Black Country New Road, in their newest form, played a set of brand new tracks proving they’re still an unmissable set of any festival lineup.

Late afternoon, I ventured down to The Settlement Tent for a Green Man-first: the Black Mountain Banquet, which sat around 100 guests for a communal-style dinner prepared by Powys-raised Chef Danny Jack and Celebrity Chef Tom Hunt. The decadent three-course sharing menu relied on ingredients sourced from regenerative, local and organic Welsh farms including pork from Forest Coalpit Farm, located just 20 minutes down the road, and foraged herbs from the festival site itself.

Arooj Aftab Live at Green Man 2022 (Picture: Nici Eberl)

After dinner I rushed to catch another standout performance, from Grammy-nominated Arooj Aftab, who played her signature amalgamation of jazz, folk, electronica and ghazal (South Asian poetry set to music) to a formidable crowd in the Walled Garden.

The evening then began with chirpy alt-pop duo Tune-Yards who warmed up a sun dazed crowd for the ethereal soundscapes of Saturday’s headliner, Beach House who could be heard across the general camping site with the sound of their critically-acclaimed 2022 album ‘Once Twice Melody’. Shortly after, throngs of more festival goers descended into the Far Out tent for BRIT-nominated Belfast duo Bicep, whose modern techno-classic ‘Glue’ sparked euphoria amongst the late-night crowd.

Bicep Live at Green Man 2022
Bicep Live at Green Man 2022 (Picture: Parri Thomas)

A long journey back to the north meant we departed on Sunday morning, so regrettably missed what I’m reliably informed was a transcendent set from Michael Kiwanuka and the cathartic end to the festival at the burning of the Green Man. But, whether you were there for 2 days or 7 (Green Man offer early entry to its ‘Settlers Pass’ on Monday so guests can truly make the most of the Welsh landscape), this year’s event was another that proved it’s among the best festivals in the country.