Monday, August 29, 2005

Green Man Festival review

UK Independent:

Will Oldham's Bonnie "Prince" Billy band was a revelation. If on record Oldham can seem too artfully artless, a post-grad gloss on Southern Gothic, in this context he's a knee-trembling rocker. With Matt Sweeney (formerly of Zwan) as one of three plank-spanking guitarists, they sounded as live and as dangerous as early Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

Joanna Newsom, who topped the bill on the closing Sunday night, was even better. The diminutive harpist-singer (tonight playing a Leviathan of an instrument at least twice her size) can, like Will Oldham, seem a little affected, what with that strangulated Betty Boop voice. But, once again, she's the real deal.

After an opening unaccompanied ditty delivered from the front of stage off-mic, she started what she said was a new song. As it unwound over a full 15 minutes or so, image following image as precisely as in a poem by HD, we were all drawn into her spell. Never mind the comparisons to Bjork or Kate Bush, Newsom is closer to the Divine Comedy, and I don't mean the dodgy band. I left the show renewed with love for the power of art, making resolutions to read Melville and Emily Dickinson. Put Joanna Newsom on the National Curriculum now.

see also: Blogger bulletizes Greenman


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