Another beautiful festival overall but chinks in the armour seem to be appearing. 13th now I think (poss 14) and been going since my 2 daughters were pups. They’re all growed up now and came with their partners which is surreal. So lovely to see them all having a great time (first time for their partners) and nice to be able to send them to the bar now for a change...
Arrived for Settlers just as morning rain arrived, usual niggles with wifi not working and ticket exchange etc but was set up just in time for the deluge
Rain was torrential and bitterly cold for some of the afternoon but we’d already set up so could observe whilst sheltered with a pint of Mango Growler (or two). That said, Greenman is the only place I know where there can be blue sky and sunshine whilst also simultaneously chucking it down
Gentle Good had cancelled due to Covid unfortunately, but Gareth Bonello had curated a great day of music. Highlights were No Thee No Ess and Katell (K-Tel!) Keineg on the main stage. Lowri Evans on Acoustic stage was lovely as was Cara Ludlow. More music in the afternoon would be nice at Settlers but appreciate I’m asking a lot
Ended up watching the Pride film about Gay and Lesbian support for the collieries during the miners strike. Sounds over earnest, possibly, but was life affirming and revelatory. I had a tear in my eye by the end
Tuesday was a bit damper overall but nothing to spoil the mood. Food offerings were great. Urban Indian terrific, Settlers Bar/Cafe, very good (albeit pricey) but didn’t try the pizzas due to the queues. I do think a couple more food outlets would be nice as we’re there for a week
Music was nice throughout Tuesday but no specific highlights jumped out. Finished off with Silent Disco - much fun as always and great to be able to see the colour coded channels on the headsets
Cashells were amazing as ever, offering the best selection of meat, cheese and veg, plus amazing sausage rolls and warm scotch eggs. Steak sandwich was a winner too. They even brought in some sparkling water when I asked for it - top notch all round
Had to leave site Wednesday but arrived back early evening. I’d never seen Settlers so busy as it had to accommodate all the early birds who’d arrived due to the train strike. Was still great though and lovely to be back with the family. Can’t recall any music as too busy catching up
One of the pleasures of Settlers is everything has already been set up, so Thursday is now a day for kicking back and soaking up the atmosphere. Lovely to have the whole site opened up for the first time - hope it’s not the last
Gentle start, enjoyed potty mouthed Gretel Hanlyn, also enjoyed Papur Wal and El Goodo in Walled Garden. missed much of the other music due to catching up with friends but caught a bit of Allergies plus Metronomy who were great and finished off at Chai Wallahs until closing
In early for the usual Bloody Mary and set up a base at the Mountain Stage with a restorative bacon and egg roll
John Francis Flynn was lovely but found it hard to give him the focus he deserved on such a big stage
Mdou Moctor were one of my treats of the weekend as was Cassandra Jenkins
Saw a bit of WITCH but I find it hard to appreciate the Far Out unless I go in deep. That said Viagra Boys smashed it
Enjoyed PSB, great setting for them, but found Kraftwerk failed to suck me in. 3d visuals seemed gimmicky and the crowd thinned noticeably after a while. I heard lots of people raving about them afterwards though so it’s always subjective
Loved Cate le Bon afterwards, missed Scalping, then wandered randomly and settled into Chai for the last burst - £12.50 for an Usain Bolt is taking the piss though surely?!
As ever, stayed to end and wandered back crabwise sporting a big grin
Bloody Mary, obvs, then no real recollection of anything until Pictish came on who were as charming and fun as ever. Loved the weird head costumes things
Popped into Cinema tent for the film quiz which was fun (albeit poorly organised due to them only expecting a few people and hundreds turning up)
Frazey Ford was sublime
And loved Katy J Pearson, everyone had a huge grin on their face
What about that huge bomber that flew over, dipping it’s wing as it did so - jaw on the floor!?
Arou Aftab were great in Walled Garden, but probably busiest I’ve seen it and it felt uncomfortably claustrophobic
Caught end of BCNR who I love, but were very different since singer left. Not worse, just different. It will be fascinating to see where they go next, but I’m sure it’ll be good
'Kids' and famalam found the ‘secret’ cabaret/drag tent and stayed there for most of the evening - they just loved it there. They revisited the next night but the shows were the same as before, so adding a few more acts could be a winner
Arab Strap, are, well Arab Strap, and middle age men singing about getting pissed and chasing women pales after a while. I think I prefer their solo work now TBH
Beach House were sublime and Bicep smashed it
Off to Chai for another night cap - my bones were starting to feel it though
How can it go so quickly (and I've been here for a week!)
No Kedgeree - boooo!
Carwyn Ellis/Rio 18 on MS was my find of the week - what a lovely way to start the day, just loved it. Not often Welsh/Brazilian Bossa nova is played with a huge orchestra!
Was really looking forward to Katherine Priddy but didn’t leave much of a memory in the end - my bad no doubt
Gruff/Imarhan were great but not a necessarily a 20th birthday treat, then was torn between Steven Baboo in Group Listening and Valerie June. Former won as I like anything he does and it was suitably sublime. Caught last bit of VJ and I just wished I had a time turner - seems unfair the way clashes work sometimes…
Murder Capital were great in FO, saw a bit of Ezra who is always amazing but headed over to see Ty who I’ve not seen before - sucked me right in
Swerved Kiwanuka and stayed for Parquet - bouncy, gnarly fun as ever, but I got distracted by the amazing balloon trapezes so missed the last few songs
The greenman itself (one of the best) burned with a flaming bow and thus another one bit the dust
Saw a bit of Nia Archives from the periphery but daughters' told me the front was full of teenagers on Ket (that’s what Reading/Boardmasters is for surely?) but finished off with KOG at Chai - just phenomenal
Security guard presence was obtrusive again but makes sense after reading the news. That said, a young couple were sitting outside by the tree in the dark, minding their business inconspicuously rolling a spliff, when a guard came and made them hand it in, along with their stash. Seems heavy handed at best - live and let live surely?
Gutted to have missed:
Marisa Anderson/William Tyler
Sugar Candy Mountain
Willie J Healey
All the Woodland art installations
Gutted Low and Buffalo Nichols had to pull out too
• Much, much busier than before - surely it cant take any more people?
• Mix of crowd seemed less chilled than usual and security more obtrusive. The latter may have been related to the awful news about an onsite rape that occurred.
• Class A drug use seemed more evident including lots of coke taking and the twattery that is associated with it. Thefts seemed up, as well as 'teenage’ prickery like stealing scooters from accessibility in the early hours.
• Surely costs cant keep increasing - £6.50 for a pint and £14 for a small, undercooked cheese and tomato pizza is taking the piss.
• On Sunday, much of the food seemed to run out. I wonder if it was due to the extra crowds and lack of understanding about the impact. Kedgeree sold out and the Caribbean shack was closed by the evening. It’s my favourite eatery and queues are usually small. Goat curry rules as ever. Even Usain Bolts had sold out by the evening despite costing £12.50
• Lack of branded cups. Trivial but generic stack cups on the 20th anniversary seems a little churlish. Also, £2 per cup seems excessive, mainly because I’m useless. I always end up leaving the one/s I’ve bought back at the van so end up having to buy more
• I love Gruff and I love Irmahan but was expecting more for the 20th big surprise
Mdou Moctar - best looking band of the weekend and amazing saharan blues. Drummer was something else
Frazey Ford - her voice is just special, and I slotted into her groove in seconds
Cassandra Jenkins - woozy and sublime. Her lyrics and voice transported me
Carwyn Ellis - what a fun way to start the last day. Wasn’t expecting it to be so good
KOG - last set of the weekend at Chai - most fun possible with your clothes on etc
• Toilets - I like the compost loos personally. Smell is better and they seem less claustrophobic than the chemical loos. I quite like the breeze around ones nether parts too, but probably shouldn’t admit it. Female urinals seemed well received and much overdue
• Beer/Cider festival - always great but they do sell out in a heartbeat often, I especially liked the Black Sea Night IPA
• It’s Greenman! Arguably the prettiest festival location in the UK as well as the best curated. That said I was surprised how many long time attendees we know said they would swerve next year for smaller events and alternatives such as EOTR etc.That said, i'm sure i'll be back in 2023 because there's no where quite like it