15 witty, wise things you have to see this year at Greenbelt

15 witty, wise things you have to see this year at Greenbelt

We’re really excited about our first lineup announcements for Greenbelt 2019. We want to give you an idea of the kind of bill we’re putting together for you this year, so we’ve handpicked 15 wise and witty gems from the longlist of initial names. Plenty more to come…

1. After reading a line in a Clive James poem – “I should have been more kind. It is my fate. To find this out, but find it out too late.” – he recognised that it’s the way we treat others that will wash out in the end. So, as the world around him went “nuts” (politically speaking), one of the UK’s most successful solo artists of the past decade set about making his latest album, going back to his musical roots in the process. We’ve been waiting for years, but here, at last, for Greenbelt 2019, we give you Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls.

2. A couple who met and fell in love during the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine and found themselves on the frontline – literally on the barricades. Pussy Riot turned the festival upside down in 2018 and we think this has the potential to do the same. Get ready for the haunting Balaklava Blues, produced by the world’s most revolutionary theatre company, Belarus Free Theatre.

3. A comedian, podcaster, best-selling author, actor and addict, he writes: “This is the age of addiction, a condition so epidemic, so all-encompassing and ubiquitous that unless you are fortunate enough to be an extreme case, you probably don’t know that you have it.” Prepare to have your preconceptions challenged (and then taken out for a few drinks and a chat about West Ham and the common good). It’s time to give it up for Russell Brand.

4. Across the weekend, we’ll have literature sessions entitled ‘Radical Reading: Provocations from Pluto’. We’re delighted to be working together with Pluto Press to feature one of their authors each day – Gurminder Bhambra on decolonising the university, Vickie Cooper on the violence of austerity, and Peter Bloom on surveillance and big data.

5. An elderly Australian cartoonist-activist who regularly gets in trouble with his government for his quiet, subversive and prayerful drawings, while winning a cult following of journeying devotees the world over. We’ve admired his work from the other side of the world for decades. And now it’s time to bring him up from down under. This is Micheal Leunig – wit and wisdom personified – in residence across the festival.

6. When the world can feel like it’s on fire, it’s always therapeutic to stand up against the machine. This incredible big band collective from New York are here to help. Angry, inspired, sounding tight as hell and and with a political edge. Bringing us a mainstage performance that demands a response, this is Brass Against.

7. Do you worry you might be a slave to your screen? Then you need to see this next speaker. As the founder of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think-tank Demos, his work and writing takes on one of the central issues of the day: how do we behave as humans in the face of huge political and technological change? Clocking up over three million views for his TED talk about the dark net, Greenbelt won’t know what’s hit it – this is Jamie Bartlett.

8. A group of get-up-and-go grandmas from Lancashire who campaign for a better world for their grandchildren to grow up in – armed with oven gloves, aprons, cake and tea. Obviously. Find them on the frontline of anti-fracking protests, or driving a white-washed tank with Vivienne Westwood to David Cameron’s house to have a word. As you do. Meet The Nanas.

9. A writer, broadcaster and film-maker who speaks on economics, globalisation and the future of capitalism, he’s been on our invite list for as long as we can remember. Finally, and with his latest book In defence of the Human, it’s time to hear from one of Britain’s most insightful current affairs commentators, Paul Mason.

10. After storming X Factor as a genuinely DIY guitar-playing, songwriting, down-to-earth talent, this performer has hit the bottom with depression. Now singing openly and honestly about her journey and struggle – with songs like Put the Kettle On – she’s come through the pain and wants to share her hope with us. It’s time to welcome Lucy Spraggan.

11. We can’t wait to welcome a Grammy-award-winning bluesman, a one-time gangster-drug dealer, a would-be pop-star, and a gardener to Greenbelt this year. Helpfully for our budget all of these people are to be found within this one bona fide righteous rocker. He’s tapping into his religious roots and connecting them with his political anger to make an incendiary sound and a live show that is jaw-dropping. We welcome Bernie Sanders’ very own go-to artist, Fantastic Negrito.

12. A hilarious cabaret musical about depression that explains, sings, and throws glitter about how it’s OK not to be OK, this show is a joyful, buoyant, gleeful, slightly silly, sugar-coated, unrelentingly super-happy show! Except for the bits about depression (we’ve a thread of programming on issues of mental health this year). Make some noise for Silent Uproar’s show A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad).

13. A farmer and horticulturist, this guy makes world-beating indie-Americana albums in his down time. He pours something of the ‘patience of the land’ into his exquisite songwriting to make music that seeps slowly into your soul, like the rain seeps into the ground to feed his crops back home. Marvel at the mastery and music of Gregory Alan Isakov.

14. The tender and beautiful voice of disenfranchised, marginalised city youth, she first shot to prominence as a teenager with a debut album that saw her short-listed for the Mercury prize back in 2015. She’s still only 22, and she’s back with her second astonishing album and a mesmerising live show. Greenbelt, we give you SOAK.

15. He’s spent his life at the forefront of challenging the status quo and campaigning for change. Expelled from school at the age of 15 for joining an anti-apartheid protest in his native South Africa, he has gone on to head up Greenpeace and is now the boss at Amnesty International. It’s time to learn about civil disobedience from Kumi Naidoo

The full set of first names can be found on our lineup pages here.
Here’s a lineup poster for you to download and share.

Pictured from left to right…
top row: Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls, SOAK, Fantastic Negrito
bottom row: Balaklava Blues, Silent Uproar, Kumi Naidoo