Surrounded in the picturesque Kent country side, Ramblin Man Fair is back for its 2nd year to rock and or roll you. Looking at last year’s Ramblin Man fair, it had its share of disgruntled rapid weather changes, whether that was rain or sun although bad weather is a staple of music festivals or the summer as whole for that matter.
Yet the gods of weather of shined upon us for the whole weekend which was certainly a surprise itself.
The bands which are really why we are all gathered in Mote Park, this year’s edition seems to have built upon last year’s inaugural festival and included huge headliners on both days rather than building up for a huge Saturday night.
Saturday’s list of bands includes some of the really heavy hitters of the classic world from years gone by including Europe (7) who yes of course played `Final Countdown’ and showed the crowd they aren’t just a one hit wonder.
Over on the blues stage was the fantastic `White Buffalo’ (8), a singer songwriter that has ultimately found fame from the success of his songs in the hit TV show `Sons of Anarchy’ and although tonight he was on at the same as `Thin Lizzy’ a shame indeed, however he never disappoints and always put on a towering show to entertain the gathering masses inside the small tent.
Black Star Riders brought the Thin Lizzy (8) name back and treated us with famous songs as `Boys Are Back In Town’ and `Dancing in the Moonlight` with a flurry of consistent energy throughout from start to end and finished with an awesome rendition of `Whisky in the Jar`. With Ricky Warwick and co. bouncing around the stage like a lunatics you’d be hard pressed to believe that this is a band that in some shape or another have been around this the mid 70’s.
Which brings on to Saturday’s headliner the impressively magnificent Whitesnake (10), whose enigmatic front man David Coverdale really stole the festival that night, how he can hit those high notes still is beyond anyone of my age let alone of his years service to the music we all. The hype of huge hits like `Fool for your lovin’, `Is this Love?’ and `Here I Go Again’ built up to a hugely climactic ‘Still of the Night’ to finish the night. Whitesnake were a band who blew up with the rise of MTV and you can still see why here tonight with a mammoth show that lights up the warm night air.
photo credit: Rachel Young
Sunday on the main stage was really no different with the final 3 bands of the night delivering that killer rock experience that we have come to see now at major festivals up first and probably the heaviest band over the course of the festival `Airbourne’ (8) who certainly know how to make and entrance and powered through their high octane set with utter delight. Joel himself as the front man who appears to enjoy smashing a few beer cans over his head and launching it into the crowd not to mention his ability to piss off the stage manager climbing the scaffold or being carried through the crowd still managing to play (ah wireless packs). Airbourne bring the thunder.
Photo credit: Rachel Young
Ah mentioning Thunder (7) the arena rockers bought the next stage of the festival who were energetic and got the crowd surging for tonight’s headliners, Thunder have played a lot of support slots in recent years surely after warming up this bunch, they deserve some more headline places in the future.
Closing the festival and truly a deserved place to headline after tonight’s absolutely extraordinary performance was the Kentucky natives `Black Stone Cherry’ (10) who combine all that we love about bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd meets the Allman brothers with the heaviness of Black Label Society. They bring the best of a slew of superb tracks to show tonight like `White Trash Millionaire’, `Blind Man’, `Lonely Train’ and a breathtaking and tearful rendition of `Things My Father Said’, Black Stone Cherry are now at that level to start thinking they can headline other festivals although knowing this was their first headline was astonishing to most as they seem quite at home even with the few interesting hiccups that they powered through. Finishing with a tribute to Lemmy and Motorhead with Ace of Spades, Black Stone Cherry have brought it and brought it fucking well.
Photo Credit: Rachel Young
Certainly the festival has grown and learnt things from last year, the festival grounds seem more compact and the lay out was far easier to navigate. On a personal note for next year’s festival I feel that they could introduce a heavier stage to the festival grounds and yes I know and fully aware that it’s a classic rock festival but I suppose now so many bands can fall into a similar umbrella. Also and although this was a definite plus on 2015’s festival for including huge headlining acts for both days, yet it felt that it’s day time acts were a little more limited in its punter pull.
A great 2nd year for the Ramblin Man and definitely deserves to carry on into 2017 and beyond. If you’ve been both years you can clearly see how the festival is developing whether it’s in it’s much more efficient layout or the way in its billing over the two days rather than all the bigger bands on the Saturday night it’s a festival on the up and up. Just next time guys, please don’t make us choose between the impressive `White Buffalo’ or `Thin Lizzy’, the choice is just too tough.
So bring on 2017.