Just inside the entrance to the arena was the Rising stage, and the first act on were Those Damn Crows. They’d pulled a large crowd and that wasn’t just because they were the only band on, or because being in a tent meant they attracted people seeking shade. No, they had a large crowd because they’re a damn good rock band that impressed right from the start. They’ve got the songs to impress and they’ve got a great stage presence – essential if you really want to impress a festival crowd. They’re an excellent start to the day.
I had planned to watch No Hot Ashes next but after seeing Thomas Wynn and the believers a couple of days earlier I had to go and see them again as they were absolutely superb. The Florida based band seemed perfectly at home here in the hot sunny weather and drew a good crowd for their set. They played the previous night supporting Therapy? at the leisure centre next door and it’s clear quite a few people who saw them there were here to see them again – that tells you how good the band are, for people to want to see them again little more than 12 hours after they saw them first. It’s a fantastic set – this is a band you really need to check out.
The Adelaides came next. They’re an all-girl country-pop band from Birmingham (UK) although their sound is more Nashville than West Midlands. With two playing acoustic guitar and all three doing vocals they sound very good, with songs such as “Jack Daniels” really going down well.
Veteran hard rockers Gun were next up. It’s a very good set, but it’s testament to how good the lineup is this weekend that Gun just didn’t impress as much as I had expected in comparison to the other bands I’d already seen, and certainly not as much as the bands that came later.
Me and that man were next on the Outlaw country stage. This was one of the bands I’d most been looking forward to as I’d missed their only other UK show to date (a small venue in Camden). Fronted by Polish musician Adam Darski, aka Behemoth frontman Nergal, it’s Country but with a darker feel to it. Their debut album is one I still listen to regularly a year after it’s release, so with today’s set being almost entirely songs from that album I was very happy. They kicked off with “My church is black” before running through a set full of great songs from the album. One surprise was the inclusion of a cover version – Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad moon rising”. It was a set that more than lived up to my high expectations and I hope we hear more from this band – like another album and maybe some more live shows when Behemoth’s schedule permits.
Therapy? were next on the main stage. They’d played the previous night at the pre-festival night, and like Thomas Wynn and the believers drew a good crowd including a lot of people who had watched them the night before. They’re the heaviest band of the day so far and they definitely go down well. It’s a bit warm to get the crowd bouncing like they normally would during a Therapy? gig, but the band put in a great high energy set.
The rocket dolls were yet another example of the high standard of bands on the Rising stage – the main stage acts really do need to watch their backs with so many young and talented bands around ready to move up to the main stages at festivals. Hailing from Brighton, the Rocket Dolls are a three-piece that really are well worth checking out.
Skinny Molly brought some Southern rock to the outlaw country stage, and it just felt right in this heat. Plenty of bands have covered “Freebird” over the years, but Skinny Molly are one of the few that really can justify it’s inclusion in the set – not just because it sounds fantastic when they play it but because singer/guitarist Mike Estes is a former member of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
It’s been a couple of years since I last saw The Cadillac three – sadly their last few tours clashed with other stuff, so I was glad to be able to see them here at Ramblin Man. They’re just as good as I remembered if not better.
Myles Kennedy performed a solo set on the country stage. It was an acoustic set and apart from a couple of songs where he brought on a guitarist to help out, it was just him singing and playing acoustic guitar. That’s a simple setup but one that’s hard to do well enough to keep an audience interested, but the combination of his fantastic vocals and a great choice of songs meant he kept the crowd happy throughout the set. As well as some of his solo songs and a couple of Alter Bridge songs we got songs from his collaboration with Slash, a Robert Johnson cover, and a fantastic version of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper”.
Over on the Rising stage, London band The Dust Coda were demonstrating that they’re a band worth keeping an eye on. Despite the heat they delivered a high energy rock performance that really went down well.
Steel Panther were next and clearly have a lot of fans here today – if the huge crowd in front of the stage wasn’t enough of a clue, the steel panther tshirts, people dressed up as Steel panther and people waving giant inflatable penises gave it away. Critics will say that Steel panther were mildly amusing when they started but the joke’s wearing thin now, and maybe they have a point, but sometimes you’ve got to stop taking everything so seriously and just have fun. Yes the music is all based on the hair metal hits of the 80s, but if you strip away the outfits and the clowning around, they’re very good musicians, and they know how to entertain a crowd. I’m sure they could do totally original music without the smutty humour and clowning around but it wouldn’t be as much fun or as commercially successful, so they stick to being entertaining and putting on great shows. They certainly went down well with the crowd here tonight and I enjoyed their set.
On the Outlaw country stage, Steve Earle and the dukes. With a career spanning over thirty years and sixteen studio albums, he’s got plenty of material to choose from, so it’s a surprise when he starts the set with his biggest hit – Copperhead road. It’s a set that managed to draw a good sized crowd despite the clash with Steel Panther and it was clear to see that those fans who chose to watch Steve Earle were loving it. I only caught part of his set and I can certainly see why he’s so popular.
Tonight’s headliners were Mott the Hoople. It’s slightly odd – despite the fact they’re a legendary act, there’s less of a buzz than there was before Steel Panther’s set, and the crowd seems a little bit smaller too. They take to the stage and launch into Don McLean’s “American pie” until they get to the line..”the day the music died”, after which Ian Hunter asks “or did it” and they segue into “Golden age of rock’n’roll”. I’d love to say it was a fantastic set, but to be honest I was a bit disappointed, and other than “Roll away the stone” and the set closing “All the young dudes” I definitely got the impression that large parts of the crowd didn’t actually know any of the songs. Yes they’re legends and are great musicians, but they just felt slightly dull with not much variation between the songs. While it would have been a controversial choice, Steel Panther would have been the better headliner today.[flickrapi user=”planet mosh” get=”photoset” id=”72157695770342862″ size=”z” count=”100″]