With one glorious day of sunshine and rock music in the books, it’s time to return to Mote Park for day two of Ramblin’ Man Fair 2018. Kicking the day’s proceedings off in the big top are Second Relation who welcome the festivals prog fanatics to the re-christened ‘Prog In The Park’ stage. It’s a decent start to the day however things soon pick up a gear over on the main stage.
There is no better feeling then discovering a new band at a festival and the surprise of this weekend are the opening main stage act The Last Internationale. The three-piece deliver a truly stunning performance that converts all in attendance and delivers a phenomenal start to the day. There is even a guest appearance from Billy Sheehan to bring the set to a close.
Another great young band are up next in the shape of Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown who have spent the last couple of years touring the world with some of the biggest bands on the planet. It’s now time however for the band to strike out on their own and with more performances like today’s they may well just fulfil the endless potential they seem to have.
So called supergroups are often not up to the name that describes them, however when you run through the resumes of the members of Sons of Apollo it becomes clear that they more than deserve the moniker. The group are next up on the main stage and draw the prog fans out of the tent and into the sun. Sons of Apollo proceed to deliver a bewildering set of over the top proggy goodness that sends those fans back to their tent happy.
Today the second stage has also been rebranded and is now the ‘Blues’ stage playing host to, you guessed it, a number of blues acts including Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind who are up next. I’m unable to stay long however as the brilliant Blackberry Smoke are about to grace the main stage.
They are a band perfectly suited to Ramblin’ Man Fair and the southern rockers receive a fantastic reaction from the crowd. Blackberry Smoke playing a chilled out set as the crowd soak up the sun, is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than this? This is another band on the up and I can certainly see them playing higher up the bill should they return. With ‘One Horse Town’ and ‘Ain’t Much Left Of Me’ rounding out their set the band receive a thunderous ovation.
Over on the ‘Blues’ stage Big Boy Bloater has stepped in late to replace the unwell Chas & Dave who had been set to perform. Bloater does a decent job in entertaining the blues fans whilst I take in some food and drink. There is a decent selection of alcoholic beverages on offer including Iron Maiden’s new brew Light Brigade. Although the food stalls offer the standard selection, the quality is at the top end of what you can expect at a festival. This all adds to the friendly atmosphere of the event and the overall experience that Ramblin’ Man offers.
The festival does cater well to its customers once inside and there are minimal to no queues for essentials like the bars, food stalls, toilets and water points unlike certain other events this weekend. The merchandise is always good quality and there is even a VIP option that includes a bar and what not. Yes Ramblin’ Man knows how to keep you comfortable once your onboard.
With the weekend drawing towards its close there are still two acts left on the main stage and next up are the most exciting band on the bill this weekend. With their upcoming tour completely sold out Halestorm could probably have headlined this year’s edition of Ramblin’ Man, instead they are on as special guests. The band are set to release their fourth album ‘Vicious’ at the end of the month and they open tonight with new track ‘Black Vultures’.
From there onwards Lzzy Hale does a fantastic job of whipping the crowd up and the band deliver heavy hitter after heavy hitter. There is the obligatory Arejay Hale drum solo in amongst the likes of ‘Mayhem’, ‘Amen’ and ‘Freak Like Me’ as the band back up my statement they have could’ve and perhaps should’ve headlined this event. Finishing off with another new track in ‘Uncomfortable’ and fan favourite ‘I Miss The Misery’ the band’s performance is a rousing success and I would not be surprised to see this band take some huge strides forward over the next year. And maybe next time they come to Ramblin’ Man it will be as headliners.
After Halestorm I plod over to the ‘Prog In The Park’ stage where the iconic Fish is serenading his adoring fans. It’s then back to the main stage to finish off the weekend in the company of The Cult. Although a somewhat low key headliner they do attract a much bigger crowd than Mott The Hoople last night. They also deliver a far superior set as Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy lead their cohorts through the likes of ‘Rain’ and ‘Love Removal Machine’.
There was only going to be one song to end the festival and The Cult duly deliver with ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ still buzzing in people’s heads as they make their journeys home. It has been another fantastic weekend at Ramblin’ Man Fair despite some initial hesitations over the line-up. The festival has done well to find its place in a crowded market and given the quality of my second visit, I truly hope that Ramblin’ Man Fair long remains a date in our calendars.
You can see our Saturday review here.
latest on this festival
plus Chris Robinson Brotherhood, joining Foreigner, Beth Hart, & more
line-ups & rumours
first acts for Prog in the Park Stage