The weather forecast for Saturday at Ramblin Man Fair was certainly going to be an improvement over a wet Friday but there was still a little rain around early on. The rain, however, had fizzled out before the doors opened and it was surprisingly dry underfoot. It was a beautiful day!
I felt that the line up this year was a big improvement over last year but obviously with four stages on the go, albeit only a five minute stroll away from each other ,the clashfinder.com was a lifesaver.
RavenEye proved to be a good choice to open Saturday’s proceedings on the Planet Rock Stage. Oli Brown, still only thirty years old, has been around for at least twelve years. Originally opting for serious blues, he transgressed into serious rock with RavenEye in 2014.
Having supported Slash, Deep Purple and Aerosmith this band was ready to spark this festival into life. A great powerful short set featuring numbers from 2016 debut album Nova with Oli showing great character when seeking audience participation during his final number when he referred to the crowd’s first effort as “limped dicked” and encouraging them further with the promise that “the sooner they stepped up the singing the sooner the band would be off”.
Wille And The Bandits, originally surfers from the Cornish South West coast, were well into their set on the Outlaw Country Stage by the time I got there but they already had the audience’s full attention, with Wille Edwards starring on acoustic guitar, Weissenborn on lap steel, with Matthew Brooks and Andrew Naumann on bass and drums respectively.
This band has its own unique sound but a dreamy “Floyd” vibe made all the more special with the sun making an early appearance to help set the scene. Very impressive set including Four Million Days from recent release Paths was a highlight and currently receiving good airplay on Planet Rock.
The Rising Stars Stage has always been a nice touch at Ramblin’ Man and has given many bands the chance to extend their fan base. Stone Broken impressed on this stage in 2016 and were levitated to the main stage the following year as was Kris Barras this year having introduced himself on the Rising Stars stage in 2017.
Shrewsbury’s finest Rainbreakers have become good friends of mine over the years and they were thrilled to be playing this years festival. Early sound problems and Sam Edwards’ drum kit falling apart and an embarrassingly small audience did not hinder them and they gave a great set. I believe the small attendance was down to logistics and punters not being able to find the stage, after all it was on the side of a truck!
The Plott Hounds on the Outlaw stage impressed with a nice country sound with a definite hint of southern rock, whilst Wayward Sons were taking advantage, and being thoroughly entertaining, of steadily increasing crowd on the Planet Rock Main Stage.
I had heard great things about Otis but boy nothing prepared me for their explosive set on the Outlaw Stage. The four piece from Kentucky, endorsed by Billy F. Gibbons, were brilliant with an addictive blues rock set including a Led Zeppelin cover of Your Time Is Gonna Come. They showcased their latest release Eyes Of The Sun and I can feel a shopping spree is just around the corner!
Ugly Kid Joe, did exactly what it said on the tin, a full rock performance and from the comments being made around me, one of the highlights of Saturday. Whitfield Crane on vocals confessing that “when I looked at the weather I thought we were f*cked, but hey the sun is out”… and a drummer wearing nothing but lime green underpants…what more can one wish for?
I just had time to see Kent band Collateral (formally Angelo Tristan Band) close out their set to a rammed Rising Stars Stage audience. These guys are certainly destined for greater things and they have a true showman in Angelo.
A short visit to the Prog In The Park tent in passing to catch a glimpse of Vola giving an impressive up tempo set but to be honest the somewhat claustrophobic oven of the tent was not going to entice me there too often.
I was always going to miss something of note and it happened to be one of the stand out performances on the day; Robert Jon & The Wreck. I got the impression that I wasn’t the only one missing out.
Jimmy Barnes, former Cold Chisel front man, at 63 still pushes his brilliant vocals to the limit and with more top selling albums in his homeland than any other Aussie, he is a true rock legend. These days he resists drinking on stage unlike the two bottles of vodka he allegedly drank during his Cold Chisel days.
A great band with a few of Jimmy’s offspring playing alongside him, Jimmy’s son Jackie impressing on drums . No communication though with his audience and no band introductions just a full-on set including Flame Trees from his Cold Chisel days together with his own signature song Working Class Man.
Staffordshire rockers and all round nice guys Ryders Creed are already on the rise and took full advantage of their 35 minute Rising Stars slot. Don’t be surprised if they are the next ones to be invited up onto the main stage next year,
The Temperance Movement are always good value, especially for a festival environment. It did seem a little ironic that I was enjoying their performance with a beer in hand in view of the social movement ……..They get the audience on side immediately and vocalist Phil Campbell is always outrageously over dressed.
The Allman Betts Band did not miss the opportunity to allude to the Allman Brothers Band great Ramblin’ Man (oh how they should have played it) but opting to play Blue Sky instead. Devon Allman, Duane Betts and Berry Duane Oakley are all now entrenched in the band which was previously known as the Devon Allman Project and all are sons of the original Allman Brothers Band founders.
Highlights included I Got My Eyes On You with excellent vocal from Mr Oakley, John Lee Hooker’s Dimples with a guest performance from Black Stone Cherry’s Ben Wells on guitar. Purple Rain was a surprise selection before they closed with their own Long Gone.
I believe the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band had the longest slot over the weekend and they used the two hours well. Commenced with four numbers from his new album The Traveler which went down a treat especially Neil Young’s Mr Soul. I first saw Kenny Wayne Shepherd when he came to London in the mid 90s and he has always been a star attraction whenever he returns to the UK.
Be sure to catch him later this year when he returns. He had great applause for the classic Blue On Black (recently covered by Five Finger Death Punch) and signing off with another classic from a different era, Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
Making their third appearance at RMF and their second headline slot, Black Stone Cherry was the perfect choice to headline this year’s Saturday night after what in most people’s opinion was a poor choice last year. A 90 minute set in which they pushed all of the buttons.
First number was tempting fate Rain Wizard but he never showed, the weather was perfect all afternoon and evening. Me And Mary Jane, Cheaper To Drink Alone, Blame It On The Boom Boom, White Trash Millionaire and closing out with Family Tree. It seemed to end with no serious demand for an encore but we were treated to Peace Is Free.
Live review by Phil Honley and Simon Reed. Photography by Phil Honley and Simon Reed who both have the following websites respectively www.gigsnapz.co.uk and www.musicalpictures.co.uk