Words by: Robert Sutton & Adrian Hextall
Images by: Robert Sutton Photography / www.facebook.com/robertsuttonphotography
Images by Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media / https://www.facebook.com/mindhexmedia
What a day, Saturday was, with great bands and glorious weather, so onto day two of this two day festival…and what’s this??.. another great day weather wise!! Surely not ..this is Britain we never have two days running of good weather!!..and looking at the line-up for today it’s gonna be even busier for me than yesterday trying to see all the bands that I want to see…and again unfortunately not getting to see some super new bands on the Rising Stage..oh well cannot do it all…
Adrian: Traffic, chores, ‘stuff to do’ and before you know it, you’re running late to get to the site in time for the first band of the day. Saturday was going to be hard to top. Prog Rock supremos Whitesnake finished the day in solos (sorry I mean style) with the main stage providing some epic entertainment for me in the bright Kentish sunshine. Sunday’s bill gave me food for thought and with a mix of bands (for me) on the main stage, the opportunity to do some walking and to check out the other stages a bit more.
This two piece blues rock band from Australia who live in London were first up on the Main stage today and gave us a taste of what we were in store for, as today was more a blues/southern rock day on the main stage ( with the exception of one band at least anyway!..). Just loved the clear Led Zeppelin influences in their songs. Great opening band..well done guys.
Adrian: Got to agree with Robert on this. With just the two of them on stage, The Graveltones are never going to cause much wear and tear on the floor. Where they do tear it up however is in the music. Great songs, great rhythm & beats from Mikey Sorbello and some scorching vocals from Jimmy O on ‘Forget about the Trouble’ and I was grinning from ear to ear. A great start to day 2 and a superb continuation from Saturday.
The Kentucky Headhunters
Well I never thought that I’d get the chance to see this American country/southern rock band live..Forming way back in 1968 it’s taken them almost fifty years to make it over the pond to visit our fair isle. What a super treat to see them play live and at Ramblin’ Man Fair..although this may have been influenced slightly by the Main stage headline act for tonight??,. It was never the less really fantastic to see them and play live for us. With a mix of classic covers and their own material from their ten studio collection, it was a real privilege to see this band play live in the UK.
Adrian: So whilst Rob was taking in a bit of Southern hospitality, I headed over to the Blues tent and a set from Simo. Our reviewer Karen Hetherington gave their album a full 10/10 in her review stating that it was “A high calibre creation of raw blues and rock, this release is ALL about the guitar and is an exceptional display of flair and aptitude that is sure to be well received by enthusiasts of this genre.” How then could I not investigate further.
I’d been advised that JD was energised when on stage. It’s true. With ants in his pants and the solid blues to tell a story, he never stopped moving for the duration of the set. I now need to give the album some air and settle down when the house is empty to truly appreciate this excellent trio. A musical pleasure, that, based on the show at RMF, is one I’ve missed for too long.
Over to the blues tent now, and this super band from Glasgow are really on a roll at the moment and are definitely destined for big time success in the very near future. Not being really into blues bands I have actually seen them three times in the last year!!… so they must be something special and have got me hooked onto their sound. With Alan Nimmo ( vocals/guitars) wearing his hallmark kilt and jack boots and supported as usual by Lindsay, Wayne and Bob they soon had the packed crowd in the tent singing and dancing along with them. Unfortunately I had leave early to make a dash back to the Main stage.
With a full review and gallery to follow in recognition that this was the debut show for the revamped, reimagined, rebranded BlackWolf. Following the classic, hip, 70s blues rock style that they grew up listening to had left the band wanting more. A change of direction and Illustr8ors are born. Watch this space!
For me there have really only been three ( there have probably been more but three come to mind) Irish bands that have made an impact on me musically, these being Thin Lizzy, Mama’s Boys and The Answer. I have been following The Answer for many years and just cannot believe that it is now ten years since they released their debut album ‘Rise’. With enthusiasm in overflow mode Cormac Neeson (vocals) always gives such a great performance and you never feel that the band are just going ‘through the motions’, they too always give over 110% in their performances. Brilliant Brilliant Brilliant…
Ah.. at last a chance to see a band on the Rising Stage..Just had to make the effort to go see Dirty Thrills. This blues-rock band from London lead by Louis James ( vocals) and with the un-mistakable moustache of Arron Plows (bass) they are another blues band that has grabbed my attention in the last few years. They only formed four years ago and are another band that I would recommend to anyone to go and see. Super sound and super performance on every occasion that I have seen them.
Tax The Heat
Back over again to the Blues stage now for this Rhythm and Blues influenced Rock n Roll band that I first saw …again in a tent… at the Calling Festival in Clapham Common a few years ago. In support of their new debut album ‘Fed to the Lions’ the band have been on a bit of a UK tour during July, but if you have missed them, then they will be back on tour again in November. Once again a good strong performance by this band and once again a packed out tent to support them…and once again I had to leave their set early to get back to the Main Stage…
Adrian: I had great fun watching this young energised band. Always on point, always capable of delivering and a debut album packed with tracks that remain locked in the mind for ages. The tight four piece look, sound and act every inch the part. ‘Fed to the Lions’ , the title track from their debut first hooked me with a great video that did the rounds for several months on social media. Whilst their energised blues rock makes them an ideal band for the Blues tent they would also go down a storm on the outdoor stage playing to the masses. Perfect festival music and when they play tracks like ‘Caroline’, proof that they can mix up their styles as well. Roll on album two.
The Cadillac Three
This three piece southern blues/rock band from Nashville Tennessee ..( where else could they be from??!!..) , led by Jaren ( vocals/guitars) and support from Kelby and Neil played a nine song setlist and finished with their super anthem ‘The South’…Just love this band and all I wanted was my bottle of Jack Daniel’s to go chill out to their laid back southern sounds…but alas I was ‘on duty’ so just had to make do with a cool bottle of water!!…
Cats In Space
Adrian: Having successfully failed on numerous occasions to watch Cats in Space live, I was determined to make the most of the set on the Rising Stage. Was it worth the wait..? Hell yes!
This is a band with buckets and bucket of experience saved up over the years and deployed as one of the tightest knit, solid, melodic rock units I’ve seen in a long time.
From the opening bars of ‘Too Many Gods’, which was rapidly followed by my album favourite ‘Only In Vegas’ the band, playing to a decent sized crowd, proved that class and quality can’t be bought but has to be cultivated through years of effort, energy and collected experience.
The back to back of ‘Unfinished Syphony’ and ‘The Greatest Story Never Told’ presented a band that sits somewhere inbetween Foreigner, Toto and ELO. They have the rock chops when needed but manage to add the orchestral soundscape across the back of it thanks to some fantastic keys work from Andy Stewart, multi talented writer, conductor and musical director. No surprise then the amazing wall of sound that was produced. One of the the, if not THE, band of the weekend for me.
All I hear about Airbourne is ‘AC/DC tribute band’… well I took a friend to see them not so long ago and he said the same before he saw them live but he changed his mind pretty damn quick after seeing them… If you want rock ‘n’ roll played the way it is supposed to be played loud, fast and with a certain amount of ‘don’t give a f*ck’ attitude then this is what Airbourne do..just no bullshit rock..What a super nine song set starting with ‘Ready to Rock’ , with ‘Breakin’ Outta Hell’ in the mix in the middle taken from their soon to be released new album of the same name and finishing with ‘Runnin’ Wild’. Well I was in my element not a duff song in sight, plenty of singing along and with the rock ‘n’ roll antics of Joel O’Keeffe (vocals/guitar) smashing open beer cans with his head, climbing the stage rigging tower and going ‘walk about’ on the shoulders of the stage crew into the crowd. What more do you want??… Definitely my favourite band of the entire weekend. Fantastic..
Adrian: As Airbourne’s set drew to a close and I realised I could breathe again, having seemingly held my breathe in awe of this breakneck, raucous, electrifying mob, my initial though was “how the hell can Thunder top that?” Even at the peak of their career, Thunder were never this manic on stage. A tough act to follow with Joel O’Keefe never still long enough to capture more than the odd still photograph of him before he’s off running again from one side of the stage to the other, ‘pretending’ to climb the rigging before the ‘stage manager (cough!)’ threatens to pull the plug if he doesn’t come down. Set up? of course, fun? most definitely. Topped off with a swift kick up the arse as Joel walks back onto the stage before heading into the crowd on the shoulders of one of the crew, the show is pure theatre, helped in no small part by coming on to the main theme music from Terminator 2.
The songs though matter as well and Airbourne are not in short supply. Breakin’ Outta Hell, Live It Up and Runnin’ Wild, all stand shoulder to shoulder with each other proving that the band’s writing skills continue to flourish.
The rest of the band put in a supremely tight performance and even venture at times to the front of the stage to throw some shapes for the crowd but we all know it’s the Joel show and he never ever disappoints. We just need AC\DC to retire for good now to allow the Crown (Clown?) Prince to ascend.
I wasn’t too sure how Thunder would get on with following Airbourne with their more laid back ballad type of songs..Well this ‘older’ band do still know how to put on a great show and as always helped by Danny Bowes’s (vocals) cheeky chappy approach to the banter with the crowd..you just have to smile at his expressions and bits of wisdom that he comes out with. Again another nine song set, with them opening with ‘Wonder Days’ taken from their tenth studio album released in 2015 of the same name. Followed by a classic setlist of great sing-a-long songs from them and finally finishing off with ‘Dirty Love’ after a long tease from Danny prior to the start of the track. Again Loved it…
Adrian: Nothing i can add that Rob hasn’t said here…. Pure class, years of experience and the knowledge that Britain loves Thunder. From the early days when the opened the Monsters of Rock concert in 1990 with what is regarded as the best opening act set ever, Britain has embraced the band through the years and the love, it seems, will never disippate. Warmth, love, banter and great tunes. A perfect lead into the headliners.
Black Stone Cherry
Headliners for the Main stage on Sunday night and festival closers, were missing some of their backline equipment and their back drop curtain as they had been ‘mislaid’ somewhere in the transport system. However, did this stop them? No of course not, they opened their eighteen song set with the high tempo ‘Me and Mary Jane’ with Ben Wells (guitars) seeming to have taken a lesson or two from a Jack Russell puppy with his non-stop bouncing and jumping around the entire stage. They added a few covers into the usual mix of great tunes ( ‘Built for Comfort’ and ‘Bad to the Bone’). Did a super version of ‘In my Blood’ and then followed this with ‘Things My Father Said’, where they bought back onto stage The Kentucky Headhunters to sing the song with them in commemoration to John Fred Young’s granddad and Fred Young’s father who had passed away recently.
They also added a new song ‘Cheaper to Drink Alone’ from their new ‘Kentucky’ album which they had not played live before. They finished their standard set with ‘White Trash Millionaire and ‘Blame it on the Boom Boom’. The encore got off to a rather rocky start where they tried to play ‘The Rambler’ with Ben sat on a stool with semi-acoustic guitar, but unfortunately it took ages for the stage crew to find a mic that was working so that we could hear the guitar… As true professionals they carried on with Chris Robertson ( vocals/guitars) singing the track acapella style..
They then played ‘Lonely Train’ from their self titled album before Chris saying the bands ‘thank yous’ and finishing with the words ‘We are Black Stone Cherry and we play rock and roll’ ..taking the quote from Lemmy from Motorhead, before the band then launched into ‘Ace of Spades’ to close out the night’s.. and the festival’s performances.. for another year.
Adrian: I’ll leave the BSC review to Robert as he’s the huge fan here as his words above will attest. For me, it’s worth noting how well their music reaches across generations. With the end of the festival approaching and traffic \ getting out of the car park always a concern, my ten year old daughter [NB: under 12s are admitted for free to the festival helping create a great family experience] was adamant that she was not leaving until BSC had finished. She’s not heard a note from the band previously so their show clearly hit home for her. Similarly my wife was also hugely impressed so well done guys, fans all round in our house!
All in all what a super weekends entertainment, well done to the festival organisers, well done to the British weather proving a UK festival can occur with it not being a mud bath and I cannot wait for next year’s line-up to be announced as it’s gonna be tough to beat this years acts.
Two years in, this is definitely shaping up to be a welcome and permanent fixture in the Kent countryside. Great venue, great setup, awesome music and (selfishly) ten miles from home. Roll on 2017.