UK Coverage: Ramblin’ Man Fair – Day 2
Saturday at the Ramblin’ Man Fair started brightly, with the Friday night’s rain replaced with wall to wall sunshine. Having seen the Planet Rock main stage, I arrived early to peruse the other stages. These came in the form of the Grooverider Stage, the Four Roses Bourbon Outlaw Country stage and the Rising stage. There was also a Civil War reenactment planned for midway through the day as a nearby church had a wedding booked, so the music had to stop for a short while. Unfortunately this meant that most of the stage times now clashed and I, like many others, missed lots of bands because of this.
I only got to see a couple of bands on the rising stage, which was a shame, but the two I caught showed just how much talent is out there.
The lovely weather had meant I started the day in shorts, t-shirt, and sunglasses but after an hour or so these proved to be a bad choice as a light shower changed the mood of those who had been wandering around the site looking at what was offered. The light rain would later change to much heavier rain and it set in for the remainder of the day so the sunglasses had to go.
Unfortunately, I also only got to hear a few artists on the Four Roses stage due to not just the time clashes, but also the weather. I say this as this was the only stage that was undercover and this proved a popular choice because of the dreadful weather. It was also only a quick glimpse of these artists as well because of my continued movement around the site.
These artists included Caitlin Koch, Jessica Lynn, Steve ’n ‘Seagulls, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Of these artists, Kenny Wayne Shepherd sounded immense with his blues guitar riffing to the max but it was Steve ‘n’ Seagulls who amused me most with their sound, something like Hayseed Dixie.
They sounded good but were having fun with the packed crowd and this was shown most when, between songs, you could make out Glenn Hughes on the main stage playing “Burn,” which they then set about playing themselves. However, their more bluegrass version went down a storm with those sheltering from the rain.
The Grooverider stage kicked things off with Dirty Thrills whose high energy set kept me watching. Ants in their pants would probably describe how the frontman, Louis James, and bassist Aaron Plows moves could be described but I would say these guys are destined to be big. They have the look, the swagger, and they certainly have a great sound to top it off. Perhaps the surprise package for me and a chance meeting with the aforementioned two later in the day showed me that behind some of the hype these guys are just as down to earth as the rest of us as they stood and chatted with me.
I got a quick look at Lionize but all I remember of them was frontman Nate Bergman’s interesting choice of outfit. His gold sweat suit left a lasting memory, but probably not for the right reason.
I was disappointed to miss The Picturebooks, having seen their full energy set some time back and hearing people talking about them later in the day didn’t help as they were all full of praise saying just how good they had been. The Kyle Gass Band were interesting to say the least but with frontman Kyle Gass, probably better known as half of Tenacious D, I had probably something a little different. Not only were they fun but they sounded pretty good too. Their performance was full of energy and Kyle looked to be giving his all to impress the large, rain soaked crowd. In my opinion, he won this fight and when I spotted him backstage after their set he looked totally drained.
Rival Sons were the days headliners on the Grooverider Stage but other than the track “Hollow Bones Pt. 1″ nothing really grabbed me, and I soon headed elsewhere. I remember seeing them before and I was left impressed back then so perhaps the continued rain took its toll on me by the time I saw them.
Jared James Nichols had the honour of opening up the main stage and did so in style.
His guitar playing was impeccable and I’m sure he made many new fans from those watching him strut his stuff. He was swiftly followed by Toseland, who I’ve had the pleasure of seeing several times before, but this time frontman James seems to have learnt from the band’s constant touring and he seemed much more polished.
He moved around the stage like he owned it where as before he sometimes looked lost. The sound was spot on and he’s continuing to carve out his own spot in the rapidly moving world of rock.
Planet Rock DJ Paul Anthony, who had the job of introducing the acts on the main stage, introduced the next act as rock royalty as he welcomed Steve Harris’ British Lion to the stage. Well that’s true in some ways, but as just the bass player of British Lion his name gets him further up the bill than the band deserves. I love early Iron Maiden and it is an honour to see a member of the band playing but I would have thought he could have come up with something much better than this. So disappointing that I gave up after three songs and headed for another stage.
Thankfully Reef got the crowd going again, and despite the miserable weather they put on a fantastic set. With their considerable back catalogue, as well as some of the new material, they seemed to breath new life into the crowd and with majority singing along. Best of all they looked to be loving themselves as they rocked out.
Frontman Gary Stringer even mentioned he was surprised to be above Steve Harris on the bill, but with this performance I would suggest they should have been even higher than they were. Starting with the somewhat moody “Just Feel Love,” they seized their opportunity to impress a different crowd than normal and one of my favourites “Stone For Your Love” cranked things up before the inevitable “Place Your Hands.” “Yer Old” finished things off in style and made them one to be considered for band of the day.
Glenn Hughes was next up as the acts came thick and fast due to the delay for the Civil War reenactment. His set was smooth with the inevitable hits thrown in for good measure, but I can’t say I’m a massive fan, although the Deep Purple tracks were worth the wait and kept me entertained until one of the acts I had eagerly anticipated, Dokken.
After being a fan of Doken for too long to remember, I thought they were going to be one of those bands I would never get to see live. Thankfully or not as it turned out, I got to see them. Judging by Don Dokken’s voice, I got there too late or perhaps he just had a sore throat on the day. The band sounded great but Don seemed unable to reach the heights that I and many around me had been expecting but none the less, I’ve now seen them live.
Black Star Riders took away some of my disappointment with their usual top notch set but I missed most of it as I was else where but what I did see was well polished and perfect in every way. With just the main stage headliners, Extreme left and many headed for the exit as the days relentless rain seemed to take its toll.
For me it didn’t really matter now as I was already soaked to the skin, but I did find it hard to keep my enthusiasm whilst I waited for the stage to be set up. I’m not sure why I waited as I was one of many who were surprised when Extreme were announced as Saturday headliners. Perhaps it’s because I think of them as one hit wonders with their ballad, “More Than Words” but the main man,
Mr. Nuno Bettencourt had probably been the reason for me waiting. From the very start they seemed a little stage shy with the lighting to a minimum, but they did put on quite a performance. Frontman Gary Cherone was lively as he danced around the stage and Nuno didn’t let me down but the weather unfortunately, somehow got worse, so after a few songs I gave in and headed for the exit. I will say that whoever had chosen to put Extreme at the top of the bill had made a good choice but it’s just a shame they couldn’t choose the weather as well.
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