The first band of the day for me was Sweet Crisis, opening proceedings on the Blues stage. It’s only a quick visit before I had to head off to see another band, but what I heard sounded very good with a mix of classic and modern influences. Definitely a band with potential.
Local Kent band Salvation Jayne were the first band of the day for me on the Rising stage. They’re yet another great band on this stage – the team responsible for picking the bands have done a superb job. They’ve got a good crowd and the band (singer Chess Smith in particular) have a good stage presence and move around as best they can on the small stage. It’s a very enjoyable set from a band that’s definitely worth looking out for.
Austin Gold opened the main stage. I must admit I hadn’t heard anything by them before but what I heard sounded very good – fairly melodic hard rock. Sadly the clashing stage times meant I only heard a few songs before I had to head off to another stage.
Next it was a quick dash back to the Rising stage for the excellent Piston. Having recently reviewed their self titled debut album (due out in September) I was keen to see how they sounded live and happily the answer was that they are just as good if not better than they are on the album. They’ve got great high energy rock songs and they go down well today.
On the Blues stage, Elles Bailey has a more laid back almost country sound that includes blues and rock. When I saw her perform at the HRH Crows festival I thought that Ramblin Man would be a perfect fit for her sound and the crowd watching her set certainly seemed to agree with me. It’s a really enjoyable set that I’m glad I watched.
Living colour took the prize for the best line of the weekend when they said “This one’s dedicated to the civil war re-enactors. Spoiler alert, the South lost”. Despite being from the US (New York), they actually spell Colour the British way rather than the US way (Color) which is nice to see. Formed way back in 1984 this is a band with lots of experience, lots of great songs and know how to entertain a crowd. I’m sure they’ll have been playing to a mix of fans and people who didn’t really know their music and will certainly have made a load of new fans with this performance.
Next for me was to watch another great Midlands band on the Rising stage – Gin Annie. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about this band for a couple of years but circumstances had so far meant I hadn’t managed to catch one of their shows, so I was very pleased to watch their set here at Ramblin Man. It was very clear from the start why I’d been hearing such good reports – this is a great band that’s surely made a load of new fans this weekend. I was impressed enough that I’ve already ordered their CD.
This weeks lineup of Inglorious took to the main stage next. It’s a completely new lineup after the previous members all fell out with singer Nathan James and quit, after which he posted some bizarre ranting videos that made it clear it’s all about him, so really they should be billed as “Nathan James and backing band” rather than Inglorious. He has got a good voice but sadly his ego is bigger than his voice and that’s not going to help Inglorious thrive..
Over in VIP, Blackwater Conspiracy had a second attempt at performing. Their first attempt the day before was cancelled after the VIP area lost power so there was no power at the bar or more importantly, no power for the amplifiers etc on the small stage. Happily this time the power held out and the band managed to put on a great set for the VIP ticket holders. They’re a great band normally when they do their electric sets and it was good to see that they handled the acoustic set extremely well with the songs still sounding great.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood came next. He may be described as rock royalty for his part in the Black Crowes but sadly this was the dullest set of the weekend and after a few songs I decided it was a good time to go and get some food.
In contrast, The Fallen State were tearing things up on the Rising stage with a fantastic set. The Rising stage really has been an amazing place this weekend with all the bands I saw getting good crowds and being of an extremely high standard. The only shame is that I didnt see more bands here.
Airbourne hit the stage in a blur of energy – despite it being 11 years since I first saw them play they haven’t slowed down at all and still put on the same energetic performances they did 11 years ago. Most bands would have calmed down a bit in that time but not these Aussie rockers, and Joel still does things like smashing a beer can over his head (good job he’s got a thick skull). The set includes some of their earlier songs such as “Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast”, “Girls in black” and “Runnin’ wild” all of which go down a storm
As much as I love Airbourne, there was no way I was going to miss Beth Hart who was headlining the Blues stage, so after five songs of Airbourne I headed over to watch Beth Hart. Happily I only missed a couple of songs from her set. She’s got one of the best voices in music right now – it’s powerful when she wants to do a louder more rocky number but when she does one of the more emotionally charged songs her voice carries so much emotion it’s hard to believe. She always puts in a great performance and it was a pleasure to watch and listen to her set – one of the few acts I’d miss Airbourne for at a festival.
Before the festival I’d heard the doubters saying that Foreigner aren’t big enough to headline, and while it’s true that they play smaller venues in the UK than the previous night’s headliners, Black Stone Cherry, they’ve been around a long time and have a lot of great songs. In fact it’s easy to forget how many classics they’ve released until you see them play live when they wheel out hit after hit. Opening with “Double vision” and “head games” followed by “Cold as ice”, it’s a great start to the set. Later on the band’s founder, Mick Jones joins them on stage – these days he doesn’t play the full set and just plays part of it and we get more hits including “Juke box hero”, “Hot blooded” and “I want to know what love is”. By the end of the night they’d more than justified their place at the top of the bill and the fans went home very happy after a superb end to a fantastic weekend of music.