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Friday, August 04, 2017

Ramblin Man 2017: Sunshine and hard rocking fun on Day Three at RMF

SUNDAY. The day of rest? Not a chance at Ramblin Man Fair when rock is tearing up the vicinities of Maidstone, guitars reverberating across sun-drenched Kent. What says you? Yes, after being soaked Ramblers were basking in the temperatures of previous years.

But never mind the weather reportage, because this was another jam-packed day of guitars and music that had enough variation to thrill all.

Moments before Stone Broken opened the main stage Prog In The Park kicked into high gear with The Gift, whose deceptively relaxed songs unveiled some intriguing complex rhythms. The easy banter introducing each song was welcome in the early afternoon sunshine.

Down on the Rising Stage Killit were quite literally killing it with the proverbial vim and vigour and a set that displayed how much was on offer down at the smallest stage.

Blues Pills were making their second Ramblin Man appearance, and as they prepare for more UK dates this was more than a taster for those shows. Elin is a charamismatic and entertaining front woman but it is the cohesion of the band that works so well with Dorian Sorriaux's guitar weaving psychedelic patterns.

With buckets of energy The Fallen State were almost falling over themselves to entertain the Rising Stage, more than compensating for the gap before Monster Truck roared with all cylinders revved up on the main stage. By all accounts Big Boy Bloater were also keeping the Blues Tent enthralled.

Focus may be a group of ageing rockers by their own admission, but their off-kilter manic prog - complete with the usual yodelling - had many an ageing rocker straining their lungs, and enjoying every second.

Magnum are about to sit down to record their next album, but this was an opportunity for the Brummies to showcase songs across their career, opening up the throttles and encouraging all to revel in their songs. Let's put it this way, in the massive queue for the toilets many, many people were singing along to 'Les Morts Dansant'...

Meanwhile down at The Rising Stage Blackwater Conspiracy were showcasing their blues tinged rock, airing tracks from 'Shootin' the Breeze', which judging by how many were singing along it is an album that a significant proportion have already added to their collection.

Aussie rockers Massive faced a tough task to follow that, but with beers in hand they launched with intent and riffs peeling out like devilish bells.

On the Blues stage The Quireboys were performing their own new blues set - rehearsals for which led to the forthcoming 'White Trash Blues' and the current ep 'Leaving Trunk'.

As always relaxed and still edgy the band had every ounce of space down in the blues tent filled even though it was not their usual set.

There is no doubt that UFO are amongst the premier league of UK bands. They may be getting on a bit, but that doesn't halt them at all. For all gathered they received every track they could have wished for from their back catalogue.

'Only You Can Rock Me', 'Rock Bottom', 'Love To Love' et al were aired, and, of course proceedings concluded with 'Doctor, Doctor'.

At times Phil's voice struggled, but it was only on the odd occasion, and he is so at ease on stage it was barely evident. Special mention for his commending the late Jim Marshall on developing his namesake amp, something which Mogg happily declared they are still using.

The Devin Townsend Project may have been late stand-ins for the fest, but that didn't in any diminish what they did on stage, with at times it verging on a stand-up comedy show, such was Devin's quips on the Prog Stage.

There then was an outbreak of beard envy...Every hirsute male gazing on the always impressive beards on two thirds of ZZ Top.

We all came for the hits and the exemplary playing, and ZZ Top did not disappoint. Opening with 'Got Me Under Pressure' before a blazing duo of 'Waiting for the Bus' and 'Jesus Just Left Chicago' set the scene for the massed Ramblin Man choir to sing every word of 'Give Me All Your Lovin'.

Billy's playing is as smooth as ever. 40-odd years on the road and 16-odd European dates on this current leg of the tour have every lick locked down, every tone tuned to the song.

They may not be as mobile ass before, but they do what it says on the proverbial tin - 'Catfish Blues' was sublime and set closer 'Act Nuturally' left all satisfied.

As the Ramblers left Mote Park to head for camp sites or hotels there seemed to be a unanimous uttering: "See you next year!". What better endorsement for Year Three of Ramblin Man Fair.

Review by Jonathan Traynor
Pictures by Darren McVeigh and Lizzie Torbitt (as indicated).

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