UK Coverage: Ramblin’ Man Fair – Final Day
UK Coverage: Ramblin’ Man Fair – Final Day
Welcome to Ramblin’ Man Fair Sunday! Thankfully I had a change of weather and the rain was replaced with a day of sunshine, which quickly dried out the Saturday mud. I arrived slightly later after getting caught in traffic and rushed in to avoid missing too much.
I had planned to watch several bands on the rising stage but as with Saturday, the Civil War reenactment had made seeing everyone impossible. Saturday’s country stage was now the blues stage, and I was lucky to catch small parts of the sets from Big Boy Bloater, Aaron Keylock, and Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown.
Aaron Keylock was even better than the last time I saw him live, and he’s maturing into a great musician; the other youngsters, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, were very impressive.
I only got to see a couple of their songs, but did see Tyler jump into the crowd whilst still playing his guitar. The crowd seemed impressed with the effort these guys were putting in and I was a little disappointed to be heading off to another stage. Perhaps I’ll get to see a full show someday if they return to the UK.
Saturday’s Grooverider stage was now the prog-rock stage, and they had some big names on the bill. Iamthemorning was the first band I caught there and I’m glad I did. The Russian prog-rockers put on an amazing display and were one of the day’s highlights. Vocalist Marjana Semkina was simply mesmerising and reminded me a little of Kate Bush. I met Marjana later that day and had a quick chat with her, which consisted mostly of me telling her how good I thought she sounded.
The prog stage normally throws up some new bands and this year it’s done it again. I caught a little of Martin Turner‘s set, and although I don’t know much about his former band, Wishbone Ash, he and his current act sounded good. Whilst waiting near the signing tent I heard the unmistakable sound of Focus, who had drawn a large crowd; the reason for that is probably the quality of their sound. The highlight of their set is always going to be Hocus Pocus, which is a remarkable mix of hard rock riff meets yodelling. Yes, yodelling. With the crowd in full head banging mode, they’re always thrown off track when the song erupts into yodelling. It always puts a smile on my face and it was another of the weekend’s high points.
Magnum were next up and I’m sorry to say I missed most of their set due to clashes in my schedule, but what I did hear sounded great. The new members seem to fit in as if they had been in the band for years, and hopefully they now will be for many years to come. “Vigilante” was the track I heard in full, and that was the album that got me into the band all those years ago, so it was perhaps apt that was the track I caught.
Now Kansas should have been the headlining act, but had pulled out just a few weeks before due to safety concerns, which was a shame as they had been a band I really wanted to see.
Stepping in at the last minute was the Devin Townsend Project, who I had heard of but never listened to. I was impressed with the little that I saw of Devin and his band and the large crowd suggested he was a good choice to replace Kansas.
He seemed to be enjoying himself as he joked with the crowd who basked in the sunshine enjoying the performance.
At the main stage, I missed openers Stone Broken, but I did hear from some how good of a performance they put on, so they are another act I’ll have to catch again.
Snakecharmer were next up and having seen them before, I knew what to expect. Just like last time, I was left a little disappointed with the band. They put in a lot of effort, but just didn’t do it for me other than keyboard player, Adam Wakeman, who’s the son of Yes superstar Rick Wakeman. Blues Pills were next up and frontwoman Elin Larsson was a breath of fresh air as she set the stage alight with her erratic style of dancing.
Their set showcased just what they’re about, and although I haven’t got any of their albums I’m sure that one day I’ll get some.
Monster Truck were the next to blast onto the main stage and they also did it in style. They are a band who have been carving their own niche and I liked what I heard. Full on rock and roll, and an amazing band to see live. Their sound was good and they seemed to take a lot of people by surprise with their display, and I’m sure they gained many new fans from this performance.
I caught a brief part Supersonic Blues Machine and they certainly looked the part but what I did see didn’t do much for me.
Very bland for a band so far up the bill but perhaps they saved their best for the end of the set.
UFO were the penultimate band on the main stage and I was impressed with what I saw from them.
I saw them many years ago and they were good then. I didn’t expect them to have aged as well, but they were as good on this performance as they were back then.
They ended their set in style with “Rock Bottom” and “Doctor Doctor,” which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as I sang along with everyone around me. I was surprised they were so far up the bill but on this performance, they deserved it.
As their kit was removed from the stage, talk all around me turned to ZZ Top and it seemed most people were as excited as me to be seeing the American blues rock legends. When the stage was ready, ZZ Top made their way onto the stage to the biggest applause of the weekend. They set about proving their worth as one of the best bands around, and although many would say they’re past it, they proved them all wrong.
Sure, they didn’t go running around the stage but what they do just works for them. They seemed so laid back but the sound was just amazing. Their hits came one after another and with the odd change of guitar mixed in.
The only beardless member couldn’t be seen behind his fancy-looking drum kit but he put on one hell of a shift to keep the beat as Billy and Dusty kept us entertained up front. I had been looking forward to this since they were announced and they had not let me down; perhaps it was these guys who should have been introduced as rock royalty.
After one of my favourite tracks, “Just Got Paid,” came “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs” and many thought that was it as Frank joined Billy and Dusty at the front of the stage for a quick bow. Thankfully there was more to come as they reappeared for three more tracks before leaving for good.
What a way to end the festival! I know ZZ Top have been doing this for years but they made it look so easy and so much fun. As I left with the thousands around me talk had already turned to who was going to headline next year so even the rain hadn’t put people off planning to return again.