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UK Coverage: Ramblin’ Man Fair 2017

Ramblin’ Man Fair 2017

Ramblin’ Man Fair 2017 was the third installment of the now established festival. It’s continued growth meant that adding a Friday night lineup was a no brainer. Last year I saw several small gigs in the immediate area of the festival but this year the festival’s main stage was the setting.

The four bands chosen to kick things off looked like a great choice and whoever had picked them deserves a pat on the back.

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First up was the Graham Bonnet Band, who took to the stage as the main arena area slowly filled with people making their way through the tightened security. I must admit that although I recognised the name, Graham Bonnet wasn’t someone I was familiar with, until, that is, the band struck up on the Rainbow mega hits, Since You Been Gone and All Night Long. These classics brought the crowd to life and the majority of the now sizable crowd sang their hearts out.

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Graham’s choice of outfit didn’t scream rock singer but more comedy club compere as he strutted his stuff dressed in a bright pink suit jacket. Apparently he’s well known for this style, and I suppose with his swept back hair and sunglasses it gives him a distinctive look, but it’s his voice that impressed me the most. Obviously the Rainbow hits stood out but even his band’s new material sounded good and he was the perfect choice to kick off Ramblin’ Man 17.

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Next on were Last In Line, who were one of the bands I had been looking forward to seeing and let’s just say they didn’t disappoint. Formed in 2012 by Vivian Cambell, after the death of Ronnie James Dio, these guys started out as members of the original Dio lineup.


When they reformed in 2012 they started playing the early Dio before recording new material, but it’s the Dio material that I wanted to hear. Obviously no Ronnie but Last In Line’s frontman Andrew Freeman sounded great.

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The band were tight and the Dio classics brought back good memories from years gone by. The highlight for me was Rainbows In The Darkand as the keyboards rang out I remembered just how good and different this had sounded all those years ago when I first heard it. I was a little disappointed when their set came to an end but I’m sure I will get to see them again one day.

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Next up were Y&T, who again were a band I knew little about, other than seeing the great artwork on their album covers years ago in the record store. As it turns out we were lucky to see them as their rhythm guitarist had been taken ill at short notice but being true professionals they soldiered on.

I didn’t know their material and they had found a friend to play guitar off stage but they sounded awesome. Especially frontman and lead guitarist, Dave Meniketti, who blew me away with his guitar work. The track “Dirty Girl” was the standout song of their set with a more blues rock sound to it it just left me in awe as I stood and listened.

The band’s t-shirts seemed to be going down well on my visit to the merchandise stand and a short queue had even formed for them.

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As the skies around Mote Park started to darken it was time for Fridays headline act and that came in the form of Saxon. Now I’ve seen Saxon many a time and the good thing with them is you know exactly what you are going to get. These days they’re better than ever and seem to rock out even harder and heavier than their younger years. Frontman Biff joked with fans saying it’s the first time they’ve headlined in the UK for many a year and that they would be back to headline again in years to come. They started with one of their newer tracks, “Battering Ram” and this set the scene for the rest of the night. Hard rock heaven for the sizable first night crowd who could have no complaints other than the weather which had turned from a slight drizzle to heavy rain. The songs came thick and fast with the classic Saxon back catalogue sounding better than ever.

SAXON- Ramblin Man FRIDAY-10 copy

It brought back memories of their The Eagle Has Landed Live album that’s gotta be up there with the best live albums ever. It nearly seemed as if they were playing it track for track with the songs flowing effortlessly. “747 (Strangers In The Night),” “20,000 ft,” “Wheels Of Steel,” “Never Surrender,” and “Fire In The Sky” filled out the middle of the set as Biff orchestrated the usual singalong and the rain didn’t seem to affect the atmosphere. As the rain eased, slightly we were treated to more of the band’s back numbers with the odd new track thrown in for good measure. In fact, it didn’t matter if it was a new or old song as Saxon hit the heights expected by a headline act and as they finished with “Denim And Leather” the now sodden crowd left happy.

Fan-damonium, some fan photos to the day. Day 2 will be up tomorrow, until then have fun at all the great festivals this season!

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See full gallery of day one here.

Photographer and Writer Martin Thomas is one of the few UK members of the Shutter 16 family. Martin joined in March 2012 as a photojournalist and continues to cover events in the Southwest of the UK where he was born and raised. Having a father who played guitar in several local bands meant that from an early age he listened to music. He still has the two main albums from back then, these are Wings’ London Town and The Yes Album.

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