Words by: Robert Sutton & Adrian Hextall
Images by: Robert Sutton Photography & Adrian Hextall/MindHexMedia
The night before the first Ramblin’ Man Fair held at Mote park Maidstone last year, it was raining cats and dogs and I wondered if the first day of the festival would be another typical washed out British festival..but no the sun did come out and the Saturday was a nice dry day…This year however.. Blimey! it could not have been any better weather-wise and ..could it get any hotter??!! What a sweltering hot day it was…and that was before any of the bands started to play!..
This year the organisers had added another stage to the event making it a four stage festival, but today for me it was just to be the Main stage for the performances, (however I did manage to venture briefly to the Prog stage and just wished that there wasn’t the clashes with the Rising stage as I thought that this stage in particular did have some great new bands playing on it.)
Adrian: Same thoughts from me. The sign of a good festival is that clashes do exist. Yes there are disappointment arising from the inability to see all of the bands that you wanted to. For me the weekend meant I missed Leogun (traffic as opposed to a clash), Colour of Noise, Stone Broken, Uriah Heap and Massive Wagons. All of whom warrant the attention of the masses and all of who ended up fighting for airtime with some great bands listed below.
First up on the Main Stage and introduced to the stage by Wyatt Wendels from Planet Rock radio was ‘Inglorious’. I saw this band at their album launch party at Islington Assembly Hall London back in February this year and thought at the time that they were destined for huge success and less than six month later they are already performing on a main stage at a festival. They gave a great opening performance showcasing their songs from the new album and a super performance of ‘I surrender’ that I think got the crowd out of their ‘…it’s too early in the morning’ mood’ into an ‘Ok, this is gonna be a great festival’ mood…
The Dead Daisies
Next up were ‘The Dead Daisies’, who I had heard of, but had not seen perform live. They actually state that they are a musical collective that does have a rotating line-up, and at the moment they have Doug Aldrich ( guitar) and Marco Mendoza ( bass) in the line-up and for me that is all that anyone needs to tell me for me to be there watching the band. Headed by John Corabi (vocals) this was a super sounding set with Doug’s super riffs and their general sound influenced by bands such as Bad Company and Foreigner. Great ‘traditional’ classic rock done well. Excellent.
Adrian: The Dead Daisies are an interesting conundrum. Kitted out with a collective of seasoned musicians with top notch CVs, the band should by rights blow everything away in front of it. As you’ll see from our attached images, they have the look, the moves and the swagger that befits the best of the best. They are an ideal festival band and play solid classic rock material. However, the killer tunes are still eluding them. It’s a good set for sure, polished and impactful but I’m not finding myself humming or singing along to any of the songs. The new album may take time to bed in and sway me later but for now, a slight misfire.
A band that I have seen recently seen a few times and have to give vocalist Tony Wright five stars for his sheer enthusiasm and non-stop running around the stage for the whole performance. However for me I just cannot seem to get into their sound…not sure whether it’s just because I need to listen to them more or that they are just not for me??!!..Still a good strong performance from them, that I did quite like, but just think I should like them a bit more than I actually do…
Adrian: Whilst Robert was off watching Terrorvision, I was working with my colleague Francijn Suermondt to prepare for an interview with Mark Yates. More on that to follow!
The Ginger Wildheart Band
Despite my colleagues best effort to convince me that Ginger Wildheart is the ‘bees knees’. I am sorry to report that for me he just didn’t do it. Can’t knock the performance, enthusiasm or skill from the band, they are just not for me…
Adrian: Thankfully, Robert’s word is not the final one on this matter and I’m happy to report that a) the band went down a treat with the crowd and b) for me this was a monumental event in Ginger’s history as this show brings to the end a short club a short club tour that saw Ginger reunite with Silver Ginger 5 colleague and Electric Boys frontman Conny Bloom. A rare treat for fans who’ve not seen the two perform SG5 tracks for over a decade.
They opened with three tracks from the 2000 ‘Black Leather Mojo’ album including the classic ‘Sonic Shake’. The rest of the set contains a smattering of Wildhearts tunes and tracks from Ginger’s solo career, focusing on the recent G.A.S.S / Year of The Fanclub release.
Having played sweat boxes for the previous 2 weeks, it must have been bliss for all concerned to be on an airy festival stage, in the sun, playing to a receptive crowd. Nice work.
Now we are getting a bit more serious…Even though they are a rock band and can in no be classed as a heavy metal one, I do so enjoy seeing them. With Joey Tempest’s (vocals) brilliant showmanship and with their great sing-a-long songs they really are an all time great crowd pleaser and couldn’t fault their twelve song setlist, that included all the classic hits from them as well as a few older ones that I’d not heard in a little while. Yep, ticked all the right boxes for me, great performance and of course they finished with ‘The Final Countdown’ that got the whole of the crowd singing along to..
Adrian: This was always one we were going to agree on I think. Classic band, classic sound and their second coming, that recently saw ‘War of Kings’ garner critical acclaim across the board proves that they have a great future still of them and guaranteed slots high on the bill of festivals as well.
Joey and Co. were in fine form and I watched a good half of their excellent set……. and then walked away. Why credit a band and then not watch them you might ask. Well, every so often a bucket list moment arrives and for me , that was during Europe’s set and the desire, nay need, to see The Zombies up on the Prog Stage. Damn you scheduling clashes but it had to be done. Roll on Europe’s headlining tour!
Adrian: With Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent performing together as The Zombies, a band who’s first major hit was the fabulous ‘She’s Not There’, there was no way I could miss this opportunity to watch them.
The band ran through many of The Zombies hits and also ensured that (from the time they originally split), Rod Argent’s follow up band, Argent [natch], had tracks aired as well. As such we were treated to a great sing along of ‘Hold Your Head Up’ from 1972. The chat, banter and anecdotes from the band, Rod especially to the crowd were heartfelt and genuinely interesting. After all who doesn’t have stories to tell after over 50 years on the road.
The finished not surprisingly with ‘She’s Not There’, the bucket list was ticked and as I wandered back to the main stage I could hear the closing bars of ‘The Final Countdown’ playing to a rapturous crowd.
As it has been thirty three years since Phil Lynott passed away and forty years since the release of their album Jailbreak. Thin Lizzy decided to play a few select dates to commemorate these milestones. With Ricky Warwick on vocals and Scott Gorham on guitar, you just know it will be a great performance. Starting off with ‘Jailbreak’ and then they played hit after hit after hit…wow, super.. super and super, with them finally finishing their thirteen song set with ‘Whiskey in a Jar’…and they even bought on Midge Ure to help celebrate this performance with them!. Well for me with their performance I would have been quite contented if that was the end of the first day of the festival…but no there was still more to come…
Adrian: Whilst Robert was left basking in some classic rock on the main stage courtesy of Thin Lizzy and their sole commemorative UK show, I wandered off to the Outlaw Country Tent to sample the delights of Hayseed Dixie.
How these guys are not bigger is beyond me but they’re blessed with a headlining slot in the tent this year so perhaps their time is nigh. Before they even play a note, the smiles on the crowd in the packed tent are apparent and there’s an energised buzz that suggests the show would be a blast.
True to form they rattle through their interpretations of a multitude of classic rock songs given the bluesgrass treatment and soon had the tent bouncing around. An acoustic bass, acoustic guitar, banjo and ukulele was all that was needed to deliver the goods and John Wheeler and the boys did not disappoint.
It was of course another ‘clash moment’ as I missed most of Thin Lizzy’s set to get a good spot in the tent and then had to leave early to ensure I could watch Whitesnake.
And finally the headline act to round off the first day’s events of this second year of the Ramblin’ Man Festival were Whitesnake. Again with an ‘all hits’ set list, this should have been another brilliant performance, that had me hooked at the start, but then it all went a bit ‘Pete Tong’ for me… why oh why did they have to put in so many solos?? First the guitars..two of them!!.. then a bass solo ( my favourite type..NOT!!) and then a drum solo…Come on guys ..you have enough material to play proper songs..just stop messing around with it..play the songs we all want to hear from you…However, they did pull it back for me after the drum solo and finished the standard set with ‘Here I go Again’ and then coming back for an encore of ‘Still of the Night’. Bit of a predictable encore, but none the less a great encore and a great end to the day.
Adrian: Have to agree with Robert on the mid-section. Whitesnake went from being one of the great classic rock acts of the last 40 years and morphed into a Prog Rock act at the midpoint section. I’ve not heard so much unnecessary soloing since I last went to watch Dream Theater or Rush play. There’s a time and a place for a solo but 2 from Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra on guitar, a bass solo pretty much finished me off. Even Tommy Aldridge’s clever, proficient drum solo (which garnered a lot of applause) did little to displace the fact that the break is needed to help Coverdale rest his voice.
It’s understandable why he does it, when he’s on stage he’s still a bundle of energy and even if his voice isn’t what it was anymore, saving it mid-set still allows David to belt out ‘Still of the Night’ as the encore. When he’s on stage, he’s great if a little croaky at times, when he’s off then the set becomes far too indulgent – better to perform other Whitesnake tracks as instrumentals and keep all musicians on stage for the duration. With a new tour in support of the classic 1987 release to follow in what might be the bands swansong, then perhaps the ‘instrumental’ rather than solos concept could work wonders.