With the predicted adverse weather failing to materialise, Saturday at Ramblin’ Man Fair gets off to a hot and sticky start with RavenEye on the main stage. Led by the talented Oli Brown, the band put in a decent shift to wake up the early attendees with ‘Animals’ going down particularly well.
Today sees the festival get into full swing with all stages running after yesterday’s main stage only opening day. Ramblin’ Man has always catered genre specific stages with its ‘Outlaw Country’, ‘Blues’ and ‘Prog In The Park’ stages being festival mainstays. The ‘Grooverider’ stage appears now to be an annual affair and this year sees the return of the ‘Rising’ stage where the festival previews some great up and coming talent.
Which of the festivals stages hosts which genre tends to change each year, no doubt dependant on the quality of acts available to each genre. The big outdoor stage this year hosts ‘Outlaw Country’ today with ‘Blues’ taking over tomorrow. The big top tent features ‘Prog In The Park’ today with Sunday being allotted the ‘Grooverider’ name.
We remain at the main stage next however for Wayward Sons, which is Toby Jepsons’ latest offering. The band isn’t anything groundbreaking but they don’t need to be for the audience to lap them up today. Ramblin’ Man knows its audience and it caters perfectly to them. You won’t find the latest trend or hip new act at the event but actually that’s fine.
Ramblin’ Man in general attracts an older audience than its most relevant competition and the atmosphere is so much better for it. In turn Ramblin’ Man provides more age or perhaps interest based entertainment such as Harley Davidson, axe throwing, plenty of ales and even a full blown civil war re-enactment. Yes, I can’t see guns, cannons and axes ending well at Donington Park, but here at Mote Park it’s all part of the magic that is Ramblin’ Man Fair.
Ugly Kid Joe are next to take to the main stage and I will admit that I didn’t expect much from them. Happily though I was surprised to find that they were really good with ‘Everything About You’ the obvious highlight. We then head to the ‘Outlaw Country’ stage where it turns out that Robert Jon & The Wreck are the perfect band to chill out to with a drink on a sunny afternoon.
Speaking of drink, there is a decent choice on offer from the numerous bars and to be fair they aren’t too badly priced. Well, other than the price for the same drink depending on which bar you buy it from. Food choices as well are ample and much nicer than your usual festival fare, although again this is a testament to Ramblin’ Man knowing its audience.
I don’t know much about Jimmy Barnes, I certainly don’t know why he seems so angry but I know his set today goes down well. Barnes stomps around the stage snarling his way through some decent songs with the help of a very good band. Ryder’s Creed are far from angry however to be playing the ‘Rising’ stage next as they make the most of a decent sized crowd to put in a solid showing.
The Temperance Movement then draw another big crowd to the main stage where they receive a hero’s welcome. The Temperance Movement have created a reputation as a great live act and they show Ramblin’ Man Fair why today with a stunning performance. With singer Phil Campbell bopping around the stage in complete contrast to Jimmy Barnes, the band leads us through the likes of ‘Only Friend’, ‘Take It Back’ and ‘Built-In Forgetter’ to the delight of the crowd.
Now, Cheap Trick is another band that knows how to delight the audience and they do so next on the main stage by pulling out all their... well, cheap tricks. Clashing with stage headliners Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Anathema does Cheap Trick no favours as they attract only a fraction of the audience compared to The Temperance Movement, but they are equally entertaining in their own unique way.
The run at the end of their set of ‘I Want You To Want Me’, ‘Dream Police’ and ‘Surrender’ is as good as we get all weekend and helps show that like The Darkness last night if you can get past the cheap tricks then actually Cheap Trick have some great songs.
Black Stone Cherry have no such problems drawing a crowd as they return as the first band to headline Ramblin’ Man Fair twice having first done so in 2016. The band experienced a few issues with their show back then, but they have no issues tonight. In fact with this performance Black Stone Cherry prove themselves worthy festival headliners.
For me tonight’s performance has everything that their massive Donington Park show last summer lacked. The set list is perfect for the slot as they treat their fans to favourites both old and new. From the opening roar of ‘Rain Wizard’ to the spectacular ending that is ‘Peace Is Free’, everything fits perfectly and the Kentucky boys deliver a headline set that the Ramblin’ Man fans will no doubt talk about for years to come.
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