First up after heading onto the festival site, it was a nice start but grey clouds were quickly approaching. The first band on for the day, in fact the only band on at that moment were rock and rollers The Nile Deltas. A great band to kick off day two of the festival musically they were really in the spirit of Ramblin Man and they brought in a fairly decent crowd considering it was the start of the days events.
Jared James Nichols took to the main stage as the rain started descending, he did a great job opening the main stage with his blues rock tones and high energy performance. His cover of Mountain’s classic ‘Mississippi Queen’ was enough to even scare the rain away for a few minutes, it got the crowd warmed up and got them into the spirit of the festival.
Xander and the Peace Pirates I hadn’t heard of before the festival but on wondering back from the main stage was pleasantly surprised by their rock and soul. Overall they provided a very passionate set and definitely came away with a few more fans.
Over to the Groove Rider stage for Lionize; a rock and roll band with infusions of funk and groove. What immediately caught my attention, after the shiny gold jumpsuit, was how unique their music was. They were a highlight of the weekend for me as they were so different from the other bands performing.
British Lion came next on main stage. The side project of Iron Maiden’s Steve harris, they impressed me. Steve Harris was leaving nobody in any doubt as to what football team he supports, with a guitar strap and wristbands in the West ham team colours. He’s an incredibly polished performer and seemed more relaxed than with Iron Maiden. The rest of the band are all good too and their set was very enjoyable.
Reef were next on the main stage and put in a good set of alternative rock.
Up next on the Rising Stage was Aaron Buchanan & the Cult Classics. I had been really looking forward to finally seeing these guys perform live and I was not disappointed. Aaron Buchanan was one of, if not the strongest vocalist of the weekend for me. It was funny to see festival goers hear him hit his first few notes and to get instantly hooked and drawn in within a few bars. They managed to amass quite a large crowd considering Steve Harris’ ‘British Lions’ were performing on the main stage. Its a shame they only had 25 minutes and were on a small stage as they out performed a lot of the bands on the bigger stages. Considering they are a new band they have done fantastic in their first year or so together, I look forward to seeing what the future has in store for them.
The Kyle Gass band took to the Groove Rider Stage with their rather epic flute solos performed in what can only be described as robes of sorts (thank you Kyle). From their opening track to the finish they kept the numbers of the crowd rising. I would go as far as saying they were one of the most unique band performing throughout the weekend for a number of reasons, Kyle Gass being the biggest reason of all.
Glenn Hughes was next on main stage. He’s known as “the voice of rock” for good reason – Deep Purple, Trapeze, Black Sabbath and many others all featured his vocals. His voice is still incredibly powerful and he still reaches the high notes with ease, and today’s set sounds great. He gives us a set that spans his career – Hughes/Thrall, Deep Purple, Black Country Communion and a couple of songs from his latest solo album. A great set and with a new Black Country Communion album out soon we’ll be hearing plenty more from him.
Dokken are a band I’d never seen before and I’d been looking forward to their set since they were first announced. Don Dokken has aged better than many 80s rock stars and still sounds great. It was a real pleasure to hear songs I remembered from the 80s such as “Breaking the chains” and “The hunter” being played alongside “Dream Warriors” which was used in the soundtrack to Nightmare on Elm street 3.
Black Star Riders brought some pyro (the only band of the weekend to use it) and gave us a good solid set which was almost all their own songs with just a couple dating back to Thin Lizzy (“The boys are back in town” and “Whiskey in the jar”). Ricky Warwick’s voice really suits the old Thin Lizzy songs, but it’s nice to see that they aren’t relying on the old songs to get the crowd going – their own material is strong enough to keep most fans happy.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd closed the Outlaw Country stage with a fantastic set. If you’ve never listened to him before then I’d certainly recommend giving him a listen. While it may be the Outlaw Country stage, his music is more blues based and his guitar playing is fantastic. Sadly I had to miss the last part of his set to head over for Extreme, but I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw of his performance.
By the time Extreme came on stage, the rain was stopping, but with the audience mostly soaked and feeling a bit flat, then Extreme had a real challenge ahead of them. Some had voiced doubts over whether they were big enough to headline, but on the night then Extreme proved the doubters wrong. They put in one hell of a show, and their showmanship and entertainment factor easily overcame the fact that most people only really knew two or three of their songs. One of those, “Get the funk out” came very early in the set and really helped get people in the right mood. “More than words” came mid-set – a brave move since that was their biggest hit and the song most people wanted to hear, but even after they played it, there was no sign of people heading for the exit – instead people were just enjoying the show. The set ended with a cover of Queen’s “We are the champions”, the second Queen song of the set. It’s a brave move for a singer to take on a Queen song since Freddie Mercury had such a great voice, but Gary Cherone did a fantastic job. A great set to end the first full day of Ramblin Man.