metal talk
instagram Facebook Twitter RSS
metal talk
  RAMBLIN' MAN FAIR
Mote Park, Maidstone
25th/26th July 2015


Andy Raull, Mark Taylor, Sean Cameron

Sean CameronSean CameronSean Cameron



butcher babies

Since the demise of High Voltage in 2011, the English festival scene had missed this major player, so the announcement that the organisers had regrouped and moved out to the country for 2015 was met with hopeful optimism.

Ramblin' Man Fair attempted to take up where High Voltage left off, keeping the main stage for classic rock, and having a separate Prog stage, but substituting a country and blues stage in place of the former Metal stage.

It may have been a lot lighter on Metal, but still good times were certainly had. MetalTalk's Mark Taylor, Sean Cameron and Andy Rawll were on hand to report from the front line.

Day One - Saturday 25th June

If there was one annoyance, then that was the multiple stage clashes between the bands especially when you have top of the range acts like the Scorpions on the main stage, Camel on the Prog Stage and the wonderful Jason & The Scorchers headlining the Country & Outlaw tent, three highly accomplished acts we would happily watch all the way through.

Article continues below...





If they could only reverse the running order of the smaller stage or just simply mix it up like they do at some German festivals then it wouldn't be such a problem.

Incidentally reformed 80s rockers No Hot Ashes were the only band who didn't clash with anyone. Amazing what a little bit of nepotism can do when you have the booking agent in the band! They were well received though and put in their usual great performance.

It was Toseland on the main stage that really got the party started on this sunny Saturday, the former motorcycle racer proving he's just as much a champion fronting his own eponymous rock band, with a impressive solid set that saw him in a completely new refreshing light.

toseland
Toseland

These strong vocals and tight band were initially let down by rather ploddy songs with transatlantic accents. All was redeemed towards the end by more urgent, melodic material with 'Singer In A Band' and 'Renegade' as highlights. Definitely more than just a fringe act.

James later confessed to Sean that he was really nervous about playing at the festival, though there was no hint of that during his performance. He splits his time between the band and presenting motorcycling racing on the TV - music is his main focus though.

"The team understand that I can't make all the race meetings" he told Sean. "Although it's great to see old friends on the circuits, my music is too important to me."

Next on the main stage were FM; these guys have been on the scene since back in 1984 and are pretty slick performers. They were perfect for the mid afternoon slot breezing through a smooth set with new material like 'Digging In The Dirt' sitting neatly with classics of old such as 'Bad Luck' in which guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick cheekily slipped in a Bon Jovi riff at the beginning.

fm
FM

FM are always a joy live, not least due to the grammatically perfect voice of Steve Overland. Since their noughties rebirth, they've acquired a bluesy edge that tempers the melodic sheen of old and demonstrated just what a quality act they are.

Blue Oyster Cult were quite superb and deserved a longer, more elevated slot. They focused on their classic early black and white period. There's no goth sanctuary being sold here, rather 'psyche-ly' mad prog boogie with heavy metaphors about monsters, war, apocalypse, politics and grim reaping.

Still fronted by Stalk-Forrest originals, Buck and Bloom, the current line-up remains true to the freewheeling original style of the band, with Kasim Sultan providing swing on the fiery bass that propelled Meat Loaf out of hell.

Each song has its own unique groove and target. 'Godzilla' was thankfully performed the way nature intended minus the drum solo and Eric Bloom sinisterly dedicated '(Don't Fear) The Reaper' to Amy Winehouse.

blue oyster cult
Blue Oyster Cult

Considering they had come over especially for this festival Blue Oyster Cult were criminally reduced to only a 45min set but they made full use of their time with a sublime showing full of gritty and mind complexing riffs. The band of the festival for many.

Still plenty more to come though as we sat in the sun and the bands played on. Saxon were fully aware of the older audience who delighted in hearing all the stately head banging classics. Biff Byford rips up the set list and gives the audience exactly what they want - the best of British.

He led Saxon on stage, arms raised in greeting - "Hey Ramblin Fucking Man" - and launched straight into 'Motorcycle Man'. Second song 'Sacrifice' is powerful and lively with Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt working together to drive the Saxon juggernaut home.

saxon
Saxon

They were the solid ball of rock that we expected, playing a crowd-pleasing set of biffing rock anthems from their early eighties heyday. These 30-year-old songs have not aged.

Although 'Sacrifice' was the only representative of their post 1984 songbook, it reminds us of the high quality of their recent output, particularly since the 2007 watershed of 'Inner Sanctum'.

Dream Theater are celebrating their 30th year of enthralling audiences with their virtuoso brand of prog-Metal. As such, their tour set list consists of a song from each of their 13 albums. Although an appealing proposition for the converted and the curious, the density and drama of most of the material makes it a challenging listen for the casual ramblin' observer.

Drummer Mike Mangini appears to be wearing safety glasses. Given his amazing skills I guess the danger of exploding drum sticks is very real to him. Vocalist James LaBrie appears to do laps around the stage whilst the rest of the group stay well out of the way.

In the event, the aurally intimidated hay-baled on the dream boys and headed for the blues tent, where Hayseed Dixie apparently delivered one of the best performances of the weekend. As with other bands, the DTs had to contend with a limited time-slot, so there were to be no songs from 'Awake', 'Change Of The Seasons', 'Six Degrees' or even recent albums 'Systematic Chaos' and 'Black Clouds...'

dream theater
Dream Theater

Although lacking the energy of Saxon and the comfort of BOC, nevertheless the song choices were excellent, especially 'As I Am' and 'Panic Attack' aided by a clear and punchy PA that delivered consistent quality sound throughout the day.

So what about tonight's headliners? After a considerable delay, towards the end of which the crowd, previously well behaved, are chanting encouragingly, demandingly and finally exasperatedly, one person in the crowd whispers, "are they actually here?"

The "they" of course are headliners Scorpions, returning to the UK for the first time in a decade. This coupled with the band's fifty year celebration makes the long awaited appearance very special.

However the tension is rising with every minute that goes past. Rumours that the band are unhappy with the size of the venue circulate.

Suddenly, the sound of a siren, an explosion and the curtain is pulled down revealing an impressive set erupting with lights. Guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker launch straight into 'Going Out With A Bang'. The video background surrounds the group in flames and the effect is incredible.

The Scorpions mixed a healthy offering of the new with the old, a few too many new songs for many UK fans who haven't kept up with the Scorps and a medley of their early years was a little patchy, but acoustic versions of 'Always Somewhere' and 'Wind Of Change' plus a storming 'Rock You Like A Hurricane' were most welcomed.

Scorpions
Rudolf Schenker – Scorpions

This set is supposedly a final "gegrüßt und auf wiedersehen" from our favourite whistling arachnids. In the context of a full length show, solo-spots, genre and era shifting can create a great dynamic of ebbs and flows, however for an abridged festival work-out, they tend to stifle momentum. So it was at various points in the show, an overlong acoustic set preceded by a guitar instrumental with an unknown guest on rhythm was ill-judged.

The post windy whistling pairing of 'Rock And Roll Band' and the explosive 'Dynamite' worked superbly, but would've worked better if they'd segued straight into 'Crazy World' rather than the lengthy Kottak solo spot (look kids, a flying drum-kit...).

scorpions
Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs – Scorpions

Thankfully, normal service was soon restored with rictus Rudolf thrashing his flying V into oblivion on 'Blackout' and the romping sounds of 'Big Silly Tights' as we used to reference the MTV-driven hit, as the band broadened their appeal, but dulled their sting somewhat.

With diminishing returns in the 90s, somehow the Scorpions rediscovered their mojo in the new millennium with a run of four excellent albums, from 'Unbreakable' in 2004 to the latest 'Return To Forever', so we can forgive the tainted confection that was 'Comeblack'. It's a shame that there was no time to include the two tracks from 'Sting In The Tail' that are on the tour set-list, particularly if the 'Ramblin' Man Fair' turns out to be their final UK show.

scorpions
Klaus Meine and Matthias Jabs – Scorpions

From the vigour and joy of this performance and the crowd reaction it's inconceivable that this really is the end and that the smoke has gone down for the last time...

Still. Scorpions deliver a highly professional show with the band members throwing all the right moves and many can learn from them in the art of delivery. This wasn't the best performance we've ever seen from the Germans but still a top class show.

Day Two - Sunday 26th July

It's day two of the festival and the British weather had returned to its default setting, damp and drizzle. The security are wearing their see through plastic coats again, the crowd is down in numbers and only the blues stage, housed in a waterproof marquee, is becoming packed.

The psychedelic pride of Blues Pills shone through to bring some colour to proceedings on the main stage, greatly rewarding those brave enough to face the elements.

Icelandic Solstafir impressed with a doomy atmospheric offering. Formed in 1995 they've had a hell of a year with controversy over the departure of drummer Guðmundur Óli Pálmason. It's started to rain harder and singer, Aðalbjörn "Addi" Tryggvason ventures too far out.

solstafir
Solstafir

A small pop and his microphone is no longer working. As he looks helplessly for anyone to bring him a spare, one of the crowd shouts helpfully, "you've shorted it mate." There's always one person willing to offer unwanted advice, at the worst possible time. It's good to be British!

It was The Quireboys who truly warmed the party up with a hearty rousting set. Spike comes on to stage holding a murky looking pint of something, which he raises to the crowd while the rest of the band take their places and open with 'Black Mariah'.

Though the weather is kinder to them, Spike cautiously stays back not wanting a repeat of the previous band. He has his own little disaster though, when he knocks his drink over later in the set.

the quireboys
The Quireboys

The Blues tent continued to benefit immensely from the rain as many Ramblers took shelter to hear a high class offering of Aaron Keylock, Mick Ralphs, Danny Bryant, Joanne Shaw Taylor and Bernie Marsden with guest Neil Murray, a mini festival within itself.

New guns Temperance Movement and Rival Sons kept the flame alive for the future of rock on the main stage, but both lack that one massive hit single to really take them to the next level.

Temperance Movement's Phil Campbell won the Gagging For A Smacking stakes by prancing around the stage in a Mod tent size jacket stolen from Liam Gallagher's cupboard, but the man is forgiven for having an amazing set of pipes.

Following this, Vic Reeves introduced Rival Sons. A fan of the band, he chose to present them and danced along to each song. The group itself has enjoyed a monumental rise since forming in 2009. Their first album, 'Before The Fire', gained popularity from release. They have since supported Aerosmith, ACDC, Kid Rock, Alice Cooper and most recently Sammy Hagar.

rival sons
Rival Sons

The damp audience is growing in number during their performance, giving testament to their diehard fan base. Scott Holliday seductively plays a gorgeous Doug Kauer made guitar during 'Belle Starr', 'Electric Man' and 'Secret'.

Seasick Steve was intriguing enough creating a robust sound but the novelty wore off after a while. His drummer had a very battered cymbal that he didn't once touch, a gimmick too many. We're not sure that he deserves to be second on the bill for day two, but the audience are appreciative enough.

The Prog stage got busy with Ian Anderson happily sticking to his Jethro Tull career, looking and sounding brilliant. The set was billed as Anderson performing Tull classics and that is exactly what we got. The nine song set started with 'Living In The Past', ended with 'Locomotive Breath', encompassed one of Bach's greatest hits 'Bourree' and satisfied on all counts.

ian anderson
Ian Anderson

Prog stage headliners Marillion pulled many Ramblers away from the main stage with a stylish set. Frontman Steve Hogarth's strong voice so works with Marillion's smooth style of music.

The festival crowd understandably expect the most well known songs, and despite the brilliant quality of the set, including Steve Rothery's guitar playing which takes you on a journey to the outer reaches of beyond, it was the delightful 'Sugar Mice' from Hogarth's predecessor's time which raised the loudest cheer.

marillion
Marillion

Greg Allman, hidden behind a large organ, closed the festival with a laid back set full of brass and chilling guitar with a varied set including the refined 'Whipping Post'. Given the name of the festival it would be hard to hold it without him. Though bizarrely it seems he doesn't play 'Ramblin' Man'.

During his opening song, 'Statesboro Blues', it becomes apparent that the cup of coffee and plastic water beaker will stay on his piano throughout the performance - highly irritating and no chance of getting a pristine shot. 'I'm No Angel' is next on the agenda quickly followed by 'Ain't Wastin' Time No More', both Allman Brothers classics.

greg allman
Greg Allman

The backdrop was quite brilliant with a stained glass effect but still that bloody coffee cup stubbornly stayed in the way.

And so the weekend ended, and our reporting team left in a haze of happiness after a well run, friendly festival showcasing a diverse high quality span of rock's highest achievers.

A Ramblin' Gamblin' festival where everyone was a winner.

******************************************

And here's Sean Cameron's Diary Of A Photographer for many more anecdotes and pictures from Ramblin' Man Fair.

15:30 Friday 24th July

Rain is lashing the M25 and my wipers are simply rearranging the water around the windscreen of my barely moving car. I have to confess a certain regret about travelling to Maidstone on this Friday afternoon. My comfortable, dry, warm office has never felt further away.

It is therefore, with great relief that I have finally left the motorway though only to find that the fallout from Operation Stack (Dover) has patiently waited for me. All this aside I am determined to reach my goal of collecting the press and photo passes that will provide access to my favourite place, the stage photo pit.

  I'm highly excited about this weekend, there are acts performing exclusively that will not be in the UK this year. A real coup for the organisers, considering this is the first Ramblin' Man Fair.

17:45

Eventually I've reached Mote Park, thanks largely to the various signs that are generously cast around Maidstone by the festival pixies. I abandon my vehicle in a handy leisure centre car park, and promptly make friends with the plastic clad, soggy security guards (always a good move, even in the dry) wishing them a cheery, "should be suntan weather tomorrow" I make my way to the guests ticket office.

17:55

I am now trudging my not so cheery path back to the car. The press passes have not arrived yet and will not be due until tomorrow. I contact Mark, our Head of Live Reviews, who helpfully reminds me, "the bands aren't on 'til tomorrow mate!" Wise words indeed. "Bless him" I mumble.

  11:00 Saturday 25th July

Today is a complete contrast to the monsoon yesterday; it seems that a suntan is indeed a distinct possibility. Walking around the festival ground an hour before the public arrived is a useful privilege, an opportunity to view the three stages and meet the somewhat happier security that I'm to be working with over the weekend.

I've now sussed the surroundings but discovered that I can't buy a coffee from the multitude of vendors until midday. How odd! I wander into a well equipped press area, just through the VIP bar. Bottled water and power points are provided. A trusting lot obviously, after all, the press aren't renowned for our safe systems of work now are we?

12:40

It's about twenty minutes before the first band are due on. Excitement in the room is rising and for me, it's reached a whole new level. It's been decided that I'm not wearing enough passes to actually get me to the pit. We've attempted a phone call to Steve, the editor and the aforementioned Mark, who in fairness, is probably still snoring away in his sleeping bag, oblivious of my plight.

Anyway the power and popularity of MetalTalk wins the day and two very helpful and apologetic press organisers come up trumps. True I've missed the first band, sadly waving goodbye to the excited group of photographers making their way to the stage. "Bunch of lucky bastards" I thought, However these things happen and there's nothing to be gained by stamping your feet and upsetting people.

14:05

The next band (my first of course) is Toseland. Now, as I've said before, James is a seriously nice guy, an accomplished pianist and two times World Superbike Champion. He is married to fellow musician Katie Melua and his enthusiasm on stage is truly infectious.

toseland
Toseland

James later confessed that he was really nervous about playing at the festival, though there is no hint of that during his performance. He plays his latest song, 'Hearts And Bones', from the EP of the same name as well as songs from the first album, 'Renegade'.

toseland
Toseland

I find it pretty impressive that the man splits his time between the music and co-presenting the motorbike racing on telly. Music is his main focus though. "The team understand that I can't make all the race meetings" he told me. "Although it's great to see old friends on the circuits, my music is too important to me."

I also note that he is sporting a new drummer, Joe Yoshida, who started touring with them this April. Apparently, Matt Eldridge, his previous drummer, had made the difficult decision not to tour as his wife had just given birth to their new baby boy. I leave James when an excited fan spots him, though only after taking a "selfie" of them both with the gentleman's phone.

15:10

Next on the main stage is FM; these guys have been on the AOR scene since back in 1984 and are pretty slick performers. Now I confess I am not a great follower of this genre, but with three of the original members boasting over thirty years each in the business, you can feel confident in their presence.

FM
FM

Incidentally, as a photographer we usually get the first three songs before being ushered away, FM gave us 'Digging Up The Dirt', 'I Belong To The Night' and 'Wildside'.

FM
FM

Back at the press room we all plug into our laptops and start transferring the pictures from memory cards. It can be a pretty daunting task to get a unique shot with twenty odd people all pointing their cameras at the same stage, but timing is everything and an interaction with a band member can be a pretty unique experience.

However today, this is proving to be nigh on impossible. Let me paint a picture. The Mote Park grounds are sloped and the gradient that the main stage is built on is considerable. The bands are standing on a platform that is chin height on one side rising to about three foot high on the other end.

Attracting the attention of anyone that much higher just isn't going to happen. Combine this with the risk of "up the nose" shots and opportunities are limited. On the plus side, the size of the stage and the bright, if a bit stark, lighting are definitely something to be exploited.

  16:20

Back again to the main stage and Blue Oyster Cult are working the audience with 'The Red & the Black', a proven crowd pleaser. They follow it up with 'Burnin' For You' and 'Harvester of Eyes'.

blue oyster cult
Blue Oyster Cult

Old timers Buck Dharma and Eric Bloom effortlessly lead the BOC sound that is oh so familiar. As the afternoon progresses, the coloured stage lighting is improving and the atmosphere good natured and excited. The band close their set with the usual favourites, 'Godzilla' and '(Don't Fear) The Reaper' (which they dedicate to Amy Winehouse, reminding us that is only four years and two days since her untimely death).

blue oyster cult
Blue Oyster Cult

Finishing with 'Cities on Flame with Rock And Roll' they leave to shouts of "more, more". It's fun to discover that the talk back in the press room is of unprofessional photographers in the pit, standing, walking in front and generally behaving obnoxiously. My opinion is asked for from a few small, hushed groups. I'm still listening to Blue Oyster Cult though.

blue oyster cult
Blue Oyster Cult

17:35

Biff Bifford leads Saxon on stage, arms raised in greeting. "Hey Ramblin fu****ng Man” he says and launches straight into 'Motorcycle Man'. I've been looking forward to this performance, as previously I didn't feel my photographs of the band were up to the standard usually expected from me.

Saxon
Saxon

It's not often you get a second chance, and I am determined to get "THE SHOT" of the day. Second song 'Sacrifice' is powerful and lively with Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt working together to drive the Saxon juggernaut home. Then during 'Power And The Glory' I spot Biff wandering to the back of the stage just next to the backdrop.

It's what I've been waiting for. I gingerly mount some steps, at present temporarily, but very conveniently, abandoned by another photographer, and will Biff to move into place. Momentarily he does, just long enough for me to fire off three shots. Got it!

Saxon
Saxon

I watch the rest of the set from the VIP bar during which Biff appears to eat his setlist when the crowd call for a song he claims they hadn't planned on playing. It is all good natured and very Rock n' Roll.

saxon
Saxon

19:00

Dream Theater are well known for their extended performances and so the instruction is sent to us "first fifteen minutes not three songs" - interesting.

dream theater
Dream Theater

The first song is 'Afterlife' and drummer Mike Mangini appears to be wearing safety glasses. Given his amazing skills I guess the danger of exploding drum sticks is very real to him. Vocalist James LaBrie appears to do laps around the stage whilst the rest of the group stay well out of the way.

dream theater
Dream Theater

Second song 'Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper' is lasting about as long as it takes me to wrap my tongue around the title - an age. We are ushered out at the end of that lengthy, though slick performance, given by five extremely talented musicians.

dream theater
Dream Theater

For me though, it lacks the energy of Saxon and the comfort of BOC. The light show is pretty spectacular from a photographer's point of view though. Irritatingly, I've now started to notice the poor etiquette in the pit and try to ignore it.

19:30

A quick sprint down to the Prog stage to catch Anathema, essentially three Liverpool brothers who have steered the band from Doom Metal in the early nineties to their present prog rock status. Vincent, Daniel and Jamie Cavanagh are joined on stage by female vocalist Lee Douglas. Their first three songs, 'Anathema', 'Untouchable, Part 1' and 'Thin Air' has a smooth and dreamlike quality to them.

20:40

We are led around the now familiar route from press room to photo pit, to find a huge backcloth hanging at the front of the stage. Five stagehands hold onto the bottom as if their lives depend on it. The tension is rising with every minute that goes past.

Rumours that the band are unhappy with the size of the venue circulate, one person in the crowd whispers, "are they actually here?"

The "they" of course are headliners Scorpions, returning to the UK for the first time in a decade. This coupled with the band's fifty year celebration makes the long awaited appearance very special.

After a considerable delay, towards the end of which, the crowd, previously well behaved, are chanting encouragingly, demandingly and finally exasperatedly. Suddenly, the sound of a siren, an explosion and the curtain is pulled down revealing an impressive set erupting with lights.

Scorpions
Scorpions

Guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker launch straight into 'Going Out With A Bang'. The video background surrounds the group in flames and the effect is incredible.

Scorpions
Scorpions

Scorpions
Scorpions

James Kottak elevated at the back belts his skins and singer Klaus Meine runs around the stage like it is 1965 all over again. The energy from their performance is intoxicating and I have never worked so hard at photographically recording it.

'Make It Real' and 'The Zoo' soon follow with equal force. Scorpions are certainly back, and as a side note, I consider it a personal triumph that I have written all this without using the well worn phrase "sting in the tail". Oh bugger!

Scorpions
Scorpions

Scorpions
Scorpions

13:30 Sunday 26th July

It's day two of the festival and the British weather had returned to its default setting, damp and drizzle. The security are wearing their see through plastic coats again, the crowd is down in numbers and only the blues stage is becoming packed.

This I tentatively suggest that it is more to do with the fact that it's housed in a waterproof marquee, than the possibility that the same crowd that rocked with Saxon and Scorpions the night before have discovered a passion for a band called Versechorusverse, however good they are. Though I could of course be wrong.

I walk into the press room to a cry of, "you've turned up then, some of us managed to be here on time". Ah, the welcoming tone of my new family. It feels good to be missed.

  14:45

An Icelandic band called Solstafir is on stage, formed in 1995 they've had a hell of a year with controversy over the departure of drummer Guðmundur Óli Pálmason. It's started to rain harder and singer, Aðalbjörn "Addi" Tryggvason ventures too far out. A small pop and his microphone is no longer working.

solstafir
Solstafir

As he looks helplessly for anyone to bring him a spare, one of the crowd shouts helpfully, "you've shorted it mate." There's always one person willing to offer unwanted advice, at the worst possible time. It's good to be British!

15:10

Spike comes on to stage holding a murky looking pint of something, which he raises to the crowd while the rest of The Quireboys take their places and open with 'Black Mariah'. I think that anyone that has met Spike would agree that he is a lovely guy, and anyone that sees him on stage would also agree he is one hell of a performer.

True, I have almost been too close a couple of times when he's waving his microphone stand around, so keen was I to get the shot. But like the trooper he is, it always missed.

Though the weather is kinder to them, Spike cautiously stays back not wanting a repeat of the previous band. He has his own little disaster though, when he knocks his drink over later in the set.

I saw him sporting a pair of wellies, a couple of hours later and will be forever in his dept for calling me "young man". A term I haven't heard for far too many years.

16:05

I'm pushing my way through the crowd into the blues tent. Mick Ralph's Blues Band is about to play and I'm frantically readjusting the settings on both cameras for a much darker, indoor stage. Really looking forward to seeing the man who founded, and still plays for Mott The Hoople and Bad Company.

mick ralph
Mick Ralphs

He certainly doesn't let me down. Unfortunately I can only stay for the first two songs, 'Feel Like Makin' Love' and 'Can't Get Enough'.

16:20

Back at the Rock Stage. The band - The Temperance Movement, and I am mesmerised by the bizarre gyrations of Glaswegian singer Phil Campbell who is clad in a Parker and dark glasses for first song, '3 Bullets'.

temperance
The Temperance Movement

Although a relative newcomer as a band, the individual members can all provide impressive references including stints with, Ray Davies, Jamiroquai, The Waterboys and Feeder. With their brand of bluesy rock 'n roll, I predict this band will go far, so let's be honest, that's probably condemned them to a life of pubs and clubs!

16:45

Riverside the band is aptly named as the monsoon is back and I am using only one camera wrapped in a black plastic bag. I notice the lighting is catching the rain beautifully and decide to incorporate it into my shots.

riverside
Riverside

The group itself has been going for fourteen years and supported Dream Theater in that time. They have produced six albums and are no newcomers to Prog Rock festivals.

17:15

I'm back at the blues stage, Danny Bryant is playing and I'm running late. I make hand signals to some of the photographers. I mean, is it second or third song? Some of them interpret it as third song just finished and leave! No time to feel guilty, I need some shots.

Last year Danny Bryant fronted Walter Trout's band whilst the man was recovering from liver surgery. An amazing guitarist and a great opportunity to photograph him.

  danny bryant
Danny Bryant

17:35

A guy is on the stage introducing the next band, it takes me a few seconds to realise that it's Vic Reeves. Apparently a fan of Rival Sons he chose to present them and danced along to each song.

The group itself has enjoyed a monumental rise since forming in 2009. Their first album, Before The Fire, gained popularity from release. They have since supported Aerosmith, ACDC, Kid Rock, Alice Cooper and most recently Sammy Hagar.

rival sons
Rival Sons

The damp audience is growing in number during their performance, giving testament to their die hard fan base. Scott Holliday seductively plays a gorgeous Doug Kauer made guitar during Belle Starr, Electric Man and Secret.

  18:00

I have just bumped into photographer Tony Mottram, I confess, a bit of a hero of mine. Tony and I have been threatening to meet for a while now and it is with a wrench that I have to leave him to get on with the next act. I could listen to the man for hours.

18:25

Joanne Shaw Taylor is someone I've wanted to hear live for some time, her feel for the guitar is breathtaking and her voice is pure blues. The Brummie powerhouse turns guitar playing into such a passionate act I almost felt like a voyeur watching her play 'Just Another Word', 'Watch 'em Burn' and 'Jealousy'.

joanne shaw taylor
Joanne Shaw Taylor

18:55

Back to the Rock Stage and Seasick Steve is due. This guy is a genius, there is no other explanation for the way he can fill the sound with his voice, a drummer and various home made guitars. Some with only one string!

I'm not sure that he deserves to be second on the bill for day two, but I hear no grumbles from the audience who lap up every note he manages to coax from the thing he turned into an instrument. My only gripe is that his drummer has a very battered cymbal that he doesn't once touch, a gimmick too many, me thinks.

seasick steve
Seasick Steve

18:15

After the relentless task of trying to keep up with three stages I return to the press room to transfer all pictures from numerous cards. I pace up and down, occasionally telling my laptop to hurry up. I'm not the only one feeling the pressure; crouched figures all over the room are trying to coax speed out of inanimate objects.

  19:30

The word is that Ian Anderson doesn't want photographers in the Prog Rock pit, there are a lot of grumbles, we have to shoot from the audience. My feeling? Bloody great, more room to get a shot that no one else has.

Relying on an understanding audience and apologetically showing my camera at every opportunity, I push my way to the front. Four shots and I'm off again, never out staying my welcome and thoroughly enjoying the challenge. Did I achieve? I'll leave that up to you.

ian anderson
Ian Anderson

I'm not sure why Mr Anderson decided he didn't want photographers, but if I look and sound as good as him at 68 I would not be shy of the odd close up. Brilliant rendition of 'Thick As A Brick' as well.

19:45

A quick trip to the Blues stage to catch Bernie Marsden and I'm face to face with the Whitesnake guitarist who has worked with Ian Paice, Jon Lord and Joe Bonamassa.

He does a brilliant rendition of 'Born Under A Bad Sign', 'Who's Fooling Who' and 'Kinda Wish She Would'. I'm gutted that I can't stay for 'Fool for Your Lovin' and 'Here I Go Again' but time is moving on at an alarming rate.

20:35

Greg Allman headlines Sunday's Rock Stage. Given the name of the festival it would be hard to hold it without him. Though bizarrely it seems he doesn't play 'Ramblin' Man'.

During his opening song, 'Statesboro Blues', it becomes apparent that the cup of coffee and plastic water beaker will stay on his piano throughout the performance - highly irritating.

'I'm No Angel' is next on the agenda quickly followed by 'Ain't Wastin' Time No More', both Allman Brothers classics. The backdrop was quite brilliant with a stained glass effect but still that bloody coffee cup stubbornly stayed in the way.

greg allman
Greg Allman

greg allman
Greg Allman

21:10

It's time for the last band and I'm at the Prog Rock stage shooting Marillion. Steve Hogarth is wearing a long white shirt, cross between a nightshirt and a kaftan but somehow it suits him. His strong voice so works with Marillion's smooth style of music.

They didn't play 'Kayleigh' or 'Incommunicado', I wonder if that has anything to do with rights and Fish or maybe they've just moved on. Steve Rothery's guitar playing takes you on a journey to the outer reaches of beyond. Just shut your eyes, listen and then dare to tell me I'm wrong.

marillion
Marillion

steve rothery
Steve Rothery - Marillion

22:00

That's it, I'm walking to the car, it's going to take me a few hours to get home and then I'll be transferring all those shots to my computer. As I drive away I consider who my performance of the weekend is.

Certainly there's been a few notables, but all in all it doesn't really matter does it? The crowd were enthusiastic, mature and well behaved. The organisers produced an occasion that was truly memorable with few hitches. And the bands played their souls out.

I might make a decision by next year's Ramblin' Man Fair, You'll have to ask me when we meet there.

Scorpions
Scorpions


beer beer beerbeerbeer


2.9.15















 


metal talk © All written site content is copyright MetalTalk.net 2008-2017, unless otherwise stated, and is not to be used without prior permission.