Ramblin’ Man festival rocks (part two)
Having been a fan of Europe many years ago whilst still at school, I had never imagined seeing them live but this all changed a few years back and I have been fortunate to catch them several times since and they’ve always put on a great show. Frontman Joey Tempest seems to love performing and the ladies love him. They do what they do well and it’s pretty much the same each time with the odd change of songs.
Inglorious are a band I was advised to watch and after seeing them it proved to be good advice, but even though I enjoyed watching them I don’t know if I would rush out to purchase their latest album. The Dead Daisies are another of those bands that I’ve been wanting to watch and their all star lineup didn’t disappoint but again I wouldn’t rush out to buy their album. Ginger Wildheart was the only band that I didn’t think much of on the day as they just didn’t do it for me but as they were sandwiched between Terrorvision and Europe I soon forgot about them.
I never got to see the original Thin Lizzy but I’ve caught the latest incarnation several times and they always deliver and on this occasion they were joined by Aerosmith’s Tom Hamilton on bass and Judas Priest stickman Scott Travis. Being an Aerosmith fan getting to see Tom Hamilton was one of highlights of the weekend for me even if it was with another band. Hopefully I will still get to see him play with Aerosmith one day but who knows. There was also guest appearance from Midge Ure but unfortunately I had left for another stage and missed it.
With the crowd perfectly warmed up for headliners Whitesnake I waited anxiously not knowing what to expect. I say this as I have now seen three Whitesnake farewell tours and they have been both great and terrible on these previous dates. All the hype suggested that frontman David Coverdale was in the form of his life and although he played hit after hit to a well oiled crowd he just didn’t do it for me. If you add in the countless solos and talking they could have played another three songs and kept the large number of fans happy but I guess that’s just the Whitesnake way. They did however play “The Heart Of The City” among all the other hits which made up for the other stuff. I headed off just before the final song and thankfully missed the traffic jam outside the venue.
Day two started much the same with an early start and entrance to the venue. The days music started in the VIP area as I got to see a laid back acoustic set Dirty Thrills who would later entertain me on the rising stage. I move on to the catch Wicked Stone, Illustr8tors, Dirty Thrills and Cats In Space on the rising stage and it was Dirty Thrills and Cats In Space that owned this stage on the day as many of the other just went over my head with their middle of the road sets.
I caught a glimpse of Pat McManus on the blues stage but somehow managed to miss Simo, King King and Devin Townsend. I did catch the splendid Tax The Heat and Walter Trout who both raised the roof off the blues’ tent with their outstanding performances. I also saw a little of Warren Haynes who again sounded good but not that memorable. The prog stage was again a hive of activity and I caught everyone except Headspace. The Fierce And The Dead opened things and their short set showed just what they’re all about. Some very talented musicians playing great music but I’m not sure about the lyrics.
Blurred Vision also sounded good and they seemed to enjoy playing to the sizable crowd but it was the Von Hertzen Brothers and Procol Harum who impressed most on day two on the prog stage. I had met the Von Hertzen Brothers earlier in the day and their attitude impressed me as they went out of their way to work with me and I wished more bands had the same attitude as these guys. I hadn’t heard much of them before the festival but their fine performance means I will now add their back catalogue to my want list.
Procol Harum were a band I grew up with as my father was a big fan and after meeting them I never expected them to create such an amazing sound live. The vocals of Gary Brooker just blew me away and sounded much better than anything I had heard him on before. Add in the rest of the band and you’ve got a very tight unit who are probably far better now than in their hay day. I did however manage to miss A Whiter Shade Of Pale as I had to rush off to the main stage but thanks to the powers of the internet I’ve managed to find a very good recording of it. Unfortunately after seeing the recording I regret missing it even more.
As I moved to the main stage for the final set of the night I was in for another treat and this came in the form of Black Stone Cherry. With the frontman behind the mic for most of their set it was left to the guitarist and bass player to inject some energy into the set and they did a mighty fine job of it. This was amazingly their first ever festival headline set but you wouldn’t have known it. They showed the skills that have got them to where they are and it appears they like playing in the UK so I should get to see them again soon with a little luc
After letting rip with a solid set of rock they slowed things down with a couple of acoustic tracks although their was a little sound trouble with the guitar. However they showed true professionalism as they joked and worked around the issue. As I neared the back of the crowd in the hope of getting out early to once more avoid the traffic the band struck up their final song of the night to close the festival. They chose a great way to do this as they sent the crowd wild with a rendition of Motorhead’s “The Ace Of Spades” and in doing so showed a mark of respect to the late iconic Lemmy. This went down well with the huge crowd and gained them much respect from the UK crowd. The other noteable performances on the Sunday main stage came from The Graveltones who woke up the sleepy crowd as they ripped through their short set.
They were followed by another band making their first appearance in the UK and this was the Kentucky Headhunters. I enjoyed what I saw of them but they didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. The Answer and the Cadillac Three brought the crowd back to life and The Answers set was another highlight of the weekend. Airbourne took things up a notch and perhaps should have been the headliners as they put on one of the other best sets of the weekend but as for Thunder, they are just a band that don’t do anything for me and I watched the first three songs before heading off elsewhere.
The festival had basked in sunshine and everything had worked well other than the wristband chaos although that didn’t affect me. I can’t see many ways to improve the festival but I’m sure they will and it will be bigger and better next time around.
After attending the inaugural Ramblin’ Man Fair last year I had an idea what to expect but under new management this family friendly festival has grown in all the right areas. A new rising stage has been added bringing local and up and coming bands to the mix and this was busy all weekend. The main stage and prog stage had been moved and their new locations seemed to work much better.
A signing tent had been added as well as the artist bazaar area that had famous faces doing Q & A with fans throughout the weekend . I didn’t have time to attend any of the Q & A sessions as there was just far too much else on but I did manage to attend most of the signing sessions and these seemed very popular as they packed with people eager to meet the bands.
The bands who attended these sessions were great with the fans who had queued to see them and happily posed for photos whilst signing anything that was put in front of them. The number of people who attended these session went to prove that this is a feature that should stay in place for next year.