Glanusk Park looked very pretty on Friday. With green fields nestled under the benevolent gaze of the Sugarloaf hill in a gorgeous pocket of the Welsh countryside, Green Man certainly benefits from an idyllic setting. Three days of steady, soaking rain later and Arcadia had been transformed into churning, glistening muddied torture. Of course, that was all part of the fun.

Green Man is probably the largest small festival currently running in the UK, purposely avoiding the gigantic, drunkenly obnoxious crowds that seem to go hand in hand with large name acts. Thank goodness. Festival organisers Jo, Danny and Fi seem to have got the balance right, capping attendance at ten thousand and bringing in the cream (and a few curds) from the wilder waters outside the mainstream. Or to be more precise, a good mix of rock, psychedelia, electronica, indie and a helluvalotta folk.

Of the three main stages, the Folkey Dokey was a popular favourite, being the scene of many of the weekend’s highlights while also providing some much needed shelter from the rain, water gushing amusingly over the side of the tent on unwary smokers. One Little Plane set a good tone, Kathryn Bint’s wide-eyed pixy shtick providing a suitably dreamy ambiance for an afternoon spent flopped on the grass before the reverie was broken by the wild rootsy cackles of O’Death. With two members playing shirtless, hairy nipples proudly bared, these bedraggled New Yorker cavemen drew a decent crowd that responded with vigour to their addictively ramshackle country-inflected punk.

In comparison to what came later, Philadelphian rockers the War on Drugs didn’t compete, although they certainly outdid Fight Like Apes over on the Main Stage, their earnest but horribly gaudy sound being the object of much barely-concealed mirth. There was a woman in the late stages of pregnancy lying not far from where I was sitting; God knows how exposure to these Irish caterwaulers will have affected the foetus.

The Fuck Buttons may be a one trick pony but hell, it’s a great trick. Ensconced in the azure magic funhouse of the Folkey Dokey stage (definitely more Dokey than Folkey) the duo performed • and by performed I mean ‘twiddled a great many knobs’ • the majority of tracks from their recent album ‘Street Horrrsing’. Indeed, they barely deviated from the rails at all, their live sound being basically identical to their recordings.

However, this is almost beside the point considering that they sound mind-blowing. ‘Sweet Love For Planet Earth’ was astounding, wave after wave of sweetly saturating concordance drilling to the base of the brain stem. Words such as ‘hypnotic’ and ‘mesmerising’ could be freely applied • as could ‘repetitive’ and (after half an hour or so) ‘boring’ for that matter. It all became a bit much after a while and I ended up wandering off in search of fermented apple juice. Which isn’t to say that the Fuck Buttons aren’t amazing, but that a little goes a long way.

Of the innumerable folk groups on offer, Seattle three-piece the Cave Singers were the pick for Friday, a wholesome sound like well-made canvas sacking marking them as a group to keep an eye on. It was the gargantuan, apocalyptic prog-rock of Black Mountain that was the highlight of the day however, delivering an intense hour of reverberating menace.

Saturday dawned chilly and inclement and turned increasingly worse throughout the day. Not that this impacted the general mood of course, most adopting the cheerful stoicism that comes with shared discomfort. Festival organisers Jo and Danny made a showing with their psychedelic folk rock outfit the Yellow Moon Band in the afternoon, nothing earth-shattering but pretty damn good nonetheless. The same can’t be said of the North Sea Radio Orchestra whose not uninteresting set never really took off • spontaneity seemingly being the first casualty of reading music off a stand.

Meanwhile the rain set in in earnest forcing many to retreat to the safety of their tents • which meant that I missed the wonderfully idiosyncratic stylings of Leeds rockers Wild Beasts. Fortunately the weather eased after a couple of hours in time for a set by the appropriately named Howlin Rain. Hailing from Oakland, California, and revamped and raring to go after its 2006 ‘restructuring’, Ethan Miller and his merry men ripped through some of the epic material from their recent ‘Magnificent Fiend’ with elemental fervor.

A somewhat disappointing day was rounded off with style by headliners Super Furry Animals. Obviously enjoying the reception that only a home crowd can give, their set seemed designed to give the gathered masses what they wanted, including the title track from their landmark ‘Rings Around The World’, as well as ‘Receptacle for the Respectable’ from that album. Wonderfully likable stuff.

As with most festivals, Green Man also featured a variety of other attractions, some of which succeeded better than others • largely due to the weather. The nightly bonfire wasn’t quite the buzzing scene of impromptu camaraderie that it was intended to be, while the various folk acts doing the rounds at the Green Man Café stage got a raw deal thanks to its exposed location.

The Film Tent played host to some interesting scenes that had little to do with cinema, several suitably kooky lecturers waxing poetic on subjects ranging from the finer points of smoking mugwort to the coiled serpent Kundalini that lies sleeping at the base of the spine and which when awakened allows direct apprehension of the universe via a third eye that opens at the centre of one’s forehead. And on the scientific, but no less crazed end of the spectrum, string theory.

The trappings of the New Age also found a place among the stalls clustered along the main thoroughfare between stages. The almost complete lack of corporate racketeering (with the exception of festival sponsor Tuborg) was welcome, although tarot readings and tie-dyed shawls weren’t exactly an ideal alternative. The enterprising chaps at the Wellington shop must have made a killing though.

Sunday washed past in haze of bleary-eyed exhaustion. The sparsely intimate acoustic sound of North Carolinian folkies Bowerbirds proved a soothing salve, their intimate songs shaped from the unusual combination of guitar, piano accordion and violin. The Accidental was also suitably comforting, the warmly exuberant sound that characterised their debut ‘There Were Wolves’ given full reign in a hearty half-hour of folkey goodness • the musical equivalent of the mouth-watering potato, blue cheese and bacon concoction peddled on the other side of the festival grounds at La Grande Bouffet. Yum.

As the evening matured most festival-goers converged on the ankle-deep sludge in front of the Main Stage, bodies grimy but spirits high, for the last few acts of the weekend. New York based indie-rock five-piece The National provided a good warm-up, while the rhythmic clacking of Iron and Wine rounded things off with a mesmerising hour of solid folk.

Unwilling to traipse back to the Folkey Dokey for Caribou, I hung around for a while to see a reunited Pentangle take the stage. An element of mildly nostalgic farce hung in the air though, conjuring echoes of the reunion concert that takes place in the penultimate scene of the film ‘A Mighty Wind’, and I decided to call it quits. Although this made a slightly dissatisfying punctuation mark to the weekend, all in all Green Man ’08 was a great success, even the ubiquitous mud failing to drown what was an ultimately very satisfying few days of music.