Ramblin Man Fair Mote Park Maidstone 25-07-15
When you get to my great age you are unsure whether the body will hold up to a whole days standing up in a park but when the full Saturday bill was announced for the first Ramblin' Man Fair to be held at Mote Park Maidstone and there are 4 of your top 10 bands of all time on the bill you have to give it a go.
With a biblical deluge the day before Saturday dawned bright and sunny and more importantly dry.
After a lengthy drive to Kent I used the out of town park and ride set up specifically for the Fair and it worked perfectly and after a short queue to get in arrived just in time to see No
Hot Ashes fresh from their recent support slot on the FM tour hit the main stage.
Again impressing in their 30 minute slot with quality songs like Boulders and Diana in a guitar heavy AOR style and with the excellent vocals of Eamon Nancarrow to the fore they went down well with the rapidly expanding crowd.
Next up on the main stage was Toseland led by former World Superbike champion James Toseland who's band played a 35 minute set of high energy with plenty of AC/DC riffs and James's Myles Kennedy inspired vocals sounding very impressive.
Here is what they played
Burning The System
Life Is Beautiful
Too Close To Call
Singer In A Band
Hearts And Bones
Most of the set was taken from their debut album Renegade but we had a newie in Too Close To Call which looks like next years second album should be a force to reckon with.
After a quick trip to the Prog stage to see a couple of songs from the soon to be no more Touchstone it was back to the main stage for the mighty FM.
I have waxed lyrical many times on these pages of my love for these guys so suffice to say they were fantastic.Steve Overland was in fine voice and his vocal lines on Closer To Heaven were majestic and the best of the day.
Here is what they played
Digging Up The Dirt
I Belong To The Night
Closer To Heaven
Tough It Out
Burning My Heart Down
Like most of the bands on the bill how do you pick a short set from a 30 year career.Well FM played 1 from new album Villian And Heroes opener Digging Up The Dirt and another from the reformation Wildside album and the rest was made up of classics.
Jim Kirkpatrick on guitar who has made such a difference to the band was in fine form with some short fiery always melodic solo's and with a crystal clear sound the whole band sounded amazing.
They managed to sneak in an extra song in Bad Luck with a lot of backing vocals from the crowd and left to huge applause.
After another trip to check out the range of food and to use the excellent toilet facilities and hearing a song or 2 from Messenger on the Prog stage it was time for Blue Oyster Cult who I had never seen before.I will be honest to say I know little about them apart from Don't Fear The Reaper always being on the jukebox in the pub back in the day so missing a little of their set but hearing the classic hit and Godzilla was about right for me.
Here is what the played
The Red And The Black
Burnin' For You
Harvester Of Eyes
Don't Fear The Reaper
Cities On Flame With Rock And Roll
As it turned out we arrived in time for some Buck's Boogie and the 2 hits which means I can cross them off the list as seen and Buck Dharma is one hell of a guitarist.
It did seem a little strange not to finish with DFTR and a few fans started to drift toward the prog stage before they had finished.
Saxon were made for festivals with their vast back catalogue of classics and Biff Byford as Master Of Ceremonies and they didn't let us down with a 50 minutes set with only the title track from last album Sacrifice amongst a sea of fan favourites all raucously sung by everyone.
Here is what the played
Power And The Glory
Strong Arm Of The Law
Heavy Metal Thunder
And The Bands Played On
747 Strangers In The Night
Princess of The Night
Wheels Of Steel
Denim And Leather
As mentioned earlier the sound for every band was exceptional and Doug Scarratt and Paul Quinn's dual guitar attack was loud and clear and great to see Nigel Glockler back behind the drums after his recent ill health.
Hit followed hit and Biff who was in great form with plenty of banter with the crowd and after asking what the crowd wanted to hear he ate the setlist to huge laughter from all.
The perfect band for an English outdoor festival.
Next up and with an UK exclusive performance was my favourites Dream Theater who played for an hour.
Here is what the played.
Metropolis Pt 1 The Miracle And The Sleeper
Burning My Soul
The Spirit Carries On
As I Am
Bridges In The Sky
Behind The Veil
On their 30th anniversary tour the band played 8 songs from 8 albums with a couple of songs not played for a long time with both Burning My Soul and As I Am welcome additions.
The Spirit Carries On was just awesome and never lets us down with the hairs on my neck standing to attention.John Petrucci's solo is jaw dropping and seeing it from the second row was a life highlight.
The band interplay never ceases to amaze with Mike Mangini on spectacular form adding fills to the humour of the rest of the band and I am sure they wonder what will he do next.
Superb set closer in Behind The Veil form their last album which wasn't played on the last tour and blessed with a wonderful melodic chorus from James LaBrie and of course a fast fingered Petrucci solo.
They promised to return next year with a new album and tour.
What followed was the only delay of the day with a 70 minute wait for The Scorpions.
When you see the sheer scale of their led screen back drop you can see why!
Now on their 50th anniversary tour and missing the UK out the 2 year farewell tour this was their first show on these shores for 7 years and the huge crowd and anticipation grew as the curtain finally fell.
For 95 minutes we were treated to the following setlist.
I first saw the band in 1984 and if you closed your eyes they still sound as good as they did then.Klaus Meine on vocals was in superb voice and the twin guitar team of Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs have always been up there with the best of them.
During my favourite Make It Real with a Union Jack backdrop the guitars were out of this world.Rudolf with the riff bobbing back and forward and Matthias soloing over and alongside Klaus's vocal just marvellous.
Following it with The Zoo and then a 3 guitar heavy Coast To Coast well heaven really.
We were treated to a 1970's medley of their songs with Steamrock Fever and Speedy's Coming a particular highlight and shame He's A Woman wasn't added!!
Being one of the pioneer's of acoustic shows a short acoustic set was welcomed with Always Somewhere and Send Me An Angel peaking with a huge audience singalong with and glitter ball accompaniment.
The led backdrop and light rig gave such a show and such depth too.With James Kottak perched high up they can split it in so many ways with a Marshall lower part changed to the Berlin Wall for a whistle along Wind Of Change.Superb.
Could have done without a lengthy drum solo from Kottak but saved witha closing couple of Blackout and Big City Nights with a city backdrop.
A double encore of Still Loving You and the obvious set closer in Rock You Like A Hurricane brought an end to a great set and if that is the last time I see them well The Scorpions I salute you.
We all managed to get out quickly and back to the buses and a seamless trip out to the park and ride site with no issues.
For a first time festival the Ramblin Man Fair' was huge success.No issues,great facilities and a chilled vibe added to a wonderful set of bands who all sounded wonderful and even a dry day led it being a perfect addition to the summer season and long may it continue.