The lights go on, the lights go off…

As I think I said, one of the Green Man shows I’d been hoping to put up was the Beirut one, but then I thought I’d wait until I’d seen their Eastbourne show and do a sort of combined post, with elements from both shows.

In the end the Eastbourne one was a different show altogether and probably the better of the two.

By now I can’t actually remember such a lot about the Green Man set, (I imagine it was raining), so I’ll just refresh my memory with a video clip I took:

So, anyway, me and Michael trekked down to Eastbourne to see one of only three other performances they were doing. I couldn’t work out why Eastbourne had been chosen for the show (and I’m not really any the wiser, hardly Rock City…), but I have to say the old Winter Gardens is a fabulous little venue, all chandeliers and Victorian trappings, in the mould of our dear old Guild Hall, but lighter generally. Very impressed.

A couple of support bands came and went without event, and then Zac Condon led his troupe on stage, and began a terrific hour’s entertainment. The whole show mainly revolves around the interplay between his sweeping crooning vocals and the brass convoy to his left. But I really appreciated the classy understated work of accordionist Perrin Cloutier, as well. It really is an elegant sound they make.

The time passed very quickly and before we knew it the second encore was over. I did, however, manage to tape most of the show, and as I said was going to give a section of songs from both shows, but in pretty much every case the Winter Garden recordings are better (I think, they’re one of those bands that are better experienced inside, jumping up and down and getting sweaty…)

So here we go:

Nantes

The Shrew

The Elephant Gun

Mimizan

Postcards from Italy

Cocek

Scenic World

The Concubine

East Harlem

The Akara

A Sunday Smile

The Penalty

Mount Wroclai

Carousels

Forks and Knives (La Fete)

Gulag Orkestar

And finally, I shot some video of Mount Wroclai:

The moon is on its back tonight…

Green Man ’10 – Lone Wolf

Life’s a muddy Tupperware container of constant surprises eh?

This was always going to be the last whole set from Green Man I was going to post (I sense attentions are wandering…), and I had it pencilled in to be the Beirut one. I’d been looking forward to seeing Zac Condon’s team ever since they were announced (in fact I bought my ticket for Green Man ’07 on the strength of Beirut’s – eventually cancelled – appearance). Celebrations in the Porpoise household when the ’10 line up was announced…

It was a pretty good set too, but unfortunately my recording isn’t that great, full of pops and whooshes (it was throwing it down at the time) and the details of a conversation the two idiots in front of me continued throughout the evening (hanging’s too good…). Not to worry. As part of The Boy’s A level celebrations, we have two tickets to Beirut’s only other English concert this summer…

Lone Wolf

One of the other bands I was very much looking forward to seeing, however, was Bella Union’s Lone Wolf (already talked about them, here). I love their record, The Devil and I, with its beautiful melodies and bitter lyrics; and had been anticipating Sunday’s performance.

When it came to it, however, I was really disappointed. They did the songs from the record plus a bold cover of Scott Walker’s “The Old Man’s Back Again”, but the sound seemed awful – the drums up far too high and the bass/cello cavernous and overbearing. It really didn’t seem to do justice to the crisp melancholy of the record.

But here’s the thing, the recording’s great! I have no idea what was going on in my head – I must’ve had socks in my ears or something – because none of the overpowering bass-ness of the performance (as I remembered it) seemed to come over onto the tape. Go figure…

So here it is, for me a recording of a completely different set from the one I saw. I dunno… go (as they say) figure.

This is War

Buried Beneath the Tiles

Soldiers

Letters

Dead River

The Old Man’s Back Again

Keep Your Eyes on the Road

The Devil and I

And while we’re at it, here’s some video I took of “Letters”, again much clearer and crisper than my jaded ears remembered.

Baby I’ve got some words for you…

Green Man ’10 – the Besnard Lakes

(I say Besnard, you say Beynard…)

I’m all over the place with this chronologically, aren’t I? Starting at Friday and working my way through to Sunday would’ve been the obvious move really. But, here’s a set from about half way through the festival, anyway; roll back to Saturday afternoon and the rain is finally beginning to falter…

Enter Montreal’s Besnard Lakes, with their grungy Beach Boys sound, trying to bring a bit of sunshine to the proceedings (which they kinda did). We’d just come from the Far Out tent where we’d seen Islets (who looked like they might be waiting for their GCSE results) and I’d expected a similar bunch of self-conscious callow things.

In the event, we got husband and wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas plus a supporting cast, none of whom looked like they were seeing thirty again. Now don’t get me wrong, as a gentleman of a certain age I’m unlikely to go all ageist on you. It was just a surprise to see Lasek coming on looking like Ian Hunter, and I wasn’t sure whether to be heartened or disappointed to see his bald patch during frequent (and ill-advised) heads-down guitar solos…

Anyway, shallow jibes aside, the Lakes started their slot powerfully with a storming version of Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent and a terrifically spiteful Devastation, and moved through key points in their last two albums. It was good stuff, although I confess by the end I was growing a little jaded.

I recorded all of a pretty good set again, although occasionally it’s slightly spoiled by the sound of the wind rasping across the mic, (for which I can only apologise…)

Like the Ocean, Like the Innocent

Devastation

Glass Printer

Albatross

And This is What we Call Progress

Disaster

And You Lied to Me

Give it away, nothing’s worth keeping that you can’t say

Green Man ’10 – Field Music

This was a recording I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to salvage – my dependable mic finally reacting to the dampness of the weekend. Fortunately, thanks to the all round ingenuity of the people who developed Audacity, I was able to salvage my recording of a really fine set. Let’s hear it for Audacity!

Field Music – The Best Band in Britain?

An eagle-eyed Martin had spotted David and Peter Brewis in the Green Man radio van earlier on the Sunday morning and, Friend To The Stars that he is, engaged them in conversation for a while. A charming, self-effacing couple of lads they were too, and this came across later on in the afternoon.

Launching straight into Give It Lose It Take It, they ran through an intelligent, funky set, taking in tracks from each album and a couple from the School of Language record. Each song rang out with a freshness and clarity which is a Field Music trademark. The songs are complex and enquiring listens and I guess are probably quite fun to play – they certainly looked like they were enjoying themselves. All this is added to by the way the brothers switch between guitars and keyboards for their own songs and then drums when it’s the other’s turn. I looked back at the set list for the Guild Hall gig in June and was surprised to see that it was almost identical; it really didn’t seem like it.

A resolute and appreciative bunch of punters spurred them on, and it was a very good set. At one point, someone shouted out “Best band in Britain!” at the top of his voice, to the amusement of the band, particularly when David Brewis* then forgot the lines of Them That Do Nothing. “Worst band in Britain”, he ad-libbed mid verse.

A national treasure at the very least…

As I said, I’ve got the whole set, and really, do yourself a favour…

Give it Lose it Take it

A House is not a Home

Rockist pt 1

Shorter Shorter

Let’s Write a Book

Keep Your Water

A Gap Has Appeared / If Only the Moon Were Up

Them That Do Nothing

Something Familiar / Share the Words

[*That’s a guess. I’m not going to pretend I can remember which brother is which. Someone will tell me…]

You are tiny and your lips are like little pieces of bacon

Green Man 2010 – Avi Buffalo

The Avi Buffalo set was another cracker, only this time in the drier surrounds of the Far Out tent.

As with John Grant, there was a real buzz about the prospect of this set, with the excellent 2010 album bringing in many punters. I can’t believe anyone was disappointed, because it was a great little set. Avi himself is a pretty unprepossessing, slight figure who plays and sings his complex, touching tunes with confidence and very little effort. He was very good indeed.

I was particularly taken by the way he would pull a funny face at his bass player after each song as if it say “They like us! Who’d’ve thought it?” I even warmed to his reedy singing style, and he went down a proverbial storm.

Recorded the whole set, and shot another video too…

Summer Cum

Coaxed

Where’s Your Dirty Mind

Five Little Sluts / Truth Sets In

Can’t I know?

What’s In It For?

Remember Last Time

The sky was black and filled with tiny silver holes

Green Man 2010 – John Grant

Well, another monsoon-like Green Man survived, and here I am soggy but unbowed, with a fist full of decent recordings and shaky videos to share with all.

This year, I’d togged myself up impressively with extra batteries and a fab new charger for my ancient iRiver recorder, (even if I was, again, woefully unprepared for the amount of rain that fell on the first two days of the festival). All of which means that I’ve got a few whole sets to share and a greater range of artists.

Unfortunately, there were a few casualties of my accustomed cack-handedness (notably a great evening in the Chai Wallah tent, in the company of the Gentleman’s Dub Club, and a surprisingly upbeat performance from Tindersticks. That one a great shame…). My mic seems also to have been a casualty of the conditions, going all mono for the last few recordings, and it may mean that a great set from Field Music and a patchy one from Lone Wolf are unsaveable…

I’ll start with two of the very best sets of the weekend…

John Grant

I’ve been pretty luke-warm about Grant’s Queen of Denmark since it came out (minority of one, it seems) but I have to say his set was very good indeed, very strong, and one that looked even better considering some of the nervous, rain-affected performances that followed.

There was a huge turn out for him, which showed the extent the record has taken off and must have been encouraging, (all the more so considering it was throwing it down at that point). He went through a good few Queen of Denmark tracks and included a couple of Czars songs that I didn’t know.

Playing solo for much of the set and only ever accompanied by one other feller, he went down well. The curious were converted and the luke-warm rehabilitated. I resolve to give the album another few listens…

I don’t think I recorded the whole set (I missed an acapello version of Chicken Bones, and maybe one other track), but here are the tracks I did get:

Drug

You Don’t Have To

Sigourney Weaver

I Wanna Go To Marz

Where Dreams Go To Die

It’s Easier

Outer Space

I also took this video of You Don’t Have To:

(Still think he sounds uncomfortably like Barry Manilow…)

Avi Buffalo to follow…

The Smell of the leaves, from the magnolia trees, in the meadow…

At the risk of going all Mojo/Uncut on you, I’m going to make a list of some of my favourite records. This not a pathetic attempt to up my circulation, (despite all appearances), there is a reason for it.

The other day, I was at the pub with my friends Tom and Rob when out of the blue Rob says,

“Top ten albums of all time, then?”

Now, I have spent many hours of my life building up to this moment, shuffling and reshuffling a few choice records until I knew the top three (or four) instantly. The Band, Forever Changes and Exile on Main Street (obviously), with Astral Weeks having drifted out to a distant fourth as I’ve grown older (at one stage it was Number 2).

But after that, I suddenly realised, I was struggling. I really couldn’t put together the rest of the top ten – there were just too many to choose from. I was acutely aware that my main four were sixties (or early seventies) records – anyone looking at that would think my music world fizzled out in 1972, in a crumbling mansion in the south of France.

What about all those modern records that I love? In a few years time, will Gulag Orkestar still seem the shining gem it does now? Which Gorky’s records should I include? Which Byrds record? Then there’s the feeling that all my records are made by white folk (I know… Arthur Lee…), don’t I like any black music? What about Al Green and Bob Marley? OMG! What about ska, reggae and the Upsetter?

In short I blew it. I dithered and dried up and totally missed my window. The moment was gone and I let myself down. And it’s been eating away at me for over a week now… (To the extent, I confess, that I’ve spent no little time hovering around my CD shelves with pen and paper. Sad, me?)

I’ve narrowed it down to about twenty, but it’s still pretty fluid, so the list won’t be appearing here yet (if ever). But one thing of which I am sure and remain unshakeable on is that my favourite ever record is the Band’s eponymous second album. It’s a wonderful (wonderful) piece without a weak track on it (Tom, btw, suggested that Exile on Main Street was patchy… controversial?). It started a whole new genre of modern music and it’s impossible to imagine the output of Wilco, Ryan Adams, Sufjan Stevens or Calexico without The Band.

I love the way they look (weather-beaten, unwashed, bearded), the autumnal colours of the sleeve and the range of the instrumentation of the songs. I’ve always been fascinated too by the way it feels like a record out of its time  and refers to past events as if they were just a couple of years ago, still fresh in the memory.

Here’s a magnificent clip of the Band rehearsing my favourite track from the record, King Harvest Has Surely Come…

And if you don’t like this, well, there’s going to be a parting of the ways, my friend…

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