So, onto the Saturday, with us both fully refreshed and the sun shining we head back to Mote Park, where one stage becomes five. With not only The Main Stage available we have the VIP stage, Rising stage, The Outlaw Country Stage & finally The Prog in The Park Tent, which makes Pippa’s & my job a tad harder having to bounce from stage to stage and cover as many bands as we can.
First up for us both was a quick saunter into the VIP Area to catch a couple of tunes from the wonderful BAD TOUCH on the VIP Stage, who performed a short but sweet acoustic set. BAD TOUCH is another hard working, up and coming band that features great musician’s and a top-notch frontman, that makes it a great start to the day.
We then move over to the Main Stage to catch the opening band RAVENEYE, who kick off their set with the powerful ‘Come with Me’. The 3-piece deliver a great set to the ever-growing crowd, that included ‘Hero’, the excellent ‘Breaking Out’, and standout tune for me Animals.
I hadn’t heard much of RAVENEYE before the show today, but I was suitably impressed with the sheer passion and musicianship on offer, with ‘Hey Hey Yeah’ bringing the set to a close.
We stayed at the Main Stage for the next band, the Toby Jepson fronted WAYWARD SONS, who only 3 short years ago Headlined the Rising Stage. So, with a Main Stage billing the band stepped up to the mark delivered a brilliant set that mainly focused on their debut release ‘Ghosts of Yet to Come’. The band open up with in your face rocker ‘Alive’, which is followed by a personal favourite of mine, the cracking ‘Don’t Wanna Go’. The melodic ‘Ghost’ which features some cracking pipes from Mr Jepson, leads us to ‘As Black as Sin’, a track from the bands forthcoming new album. Its just track after track of great melodic rock, with ‘Crush’ and ‘Small Talk’, before we are treated to another new tune, the excellent ‘The Jokes on You. WAYWARD SONS close their entertaining set with ‘Until the End’, and I wasn’t the only one hoping for a LITTLE ANGELS tune at the end …..
We then make a quick dash over to the Rising Stage to watch Kent natives COLLATERAL, who I’ve been looking forward to catching live since hearing tunes from their debut ep played on Paul Anthony’s breakfast show on Planet Rock Radio. By the time we got there a decent crowd had gathered around the small but inviting Rising Stage and there was a real buzz about place. It seemed COLLATERAL already have a great following, and together with the news that they have won the chance to play on the JON BON JOVI cruise to Paradise in Late august, the band are on a roll. (Which they expand on at my interview with the band post set)
The band bounce onto the stage after a great introduction from Darren Wilson, who has championed the band from the start, and straight away look like a brilliant cross between early SKID ROW & 80s influenced BON JOVI. From the first chords of ‘Mr Big Shot ‘is clear to see that this band is going to be huge, with singer Angelo Tristan sounding like the spawn of Danny Vaughn from TYKETTO mixed with Slippery When Wet era BON JOVI, what an amazing set of pipes this guy has.
Up next is my personal favourite, the awesome ‘Midnight Queen’, in which guitarist Todd Winger absolutely nails, and style wise, he reminds me so much of Paul Gilbert on those early MR BIG albums, an absolute cracking musician. ‘Going with the Wind’ sounds like it could have featured on the BON JOVI masterpiece NEW JERSEY, a great melodic rock tune.
The harder edged ‘Merry Go Round’ and ‘Promise land’ showcase’s the great rhythm section of bassist Jack Bentley-Smith, who looks like the offspring of 1989 Rachel Bolan from SKID ROW, and powerhouse drummer Ben Atkinson.
Which brings us to the final tune of this of this amazing set, the wonderfully melodic ‘Lullaby’ that Angelo Tristan absolutely smashes and brings roaring cheer from the very appreciative crowd. For me COLLATERAL is going to do a STONE BROKEN, and go from strength to strength, as I can see them on the Main Stage at RAMBLIN MAN FAIR in 2020 & a Lucrative support slot on an Arena Tour with one of the big boys, watch this space …….
So, whilst I stayed to watch the whole of the blistering set from COLLATERAL on the Rising Stage, Pippa had gone back up the hill, to the main stage to take pictures of early 90s Pop Rockers UGLY KID JOE. By the time I got up there Whitfield Crane & co were well into their fun filled set with ‘Devils Paradise’ leading into my favourite tune by the band, the Harry Chapin cover of ‘Cats in The Cradle’ which was a bit hit for the boys stateside & in Europe back in the day.
The crowd lap it up with ‘I’m Alright’ and the wonderful sounding ’Milkman’s Son’ making this enjoyable set fly by, before ‘Funky Fresh Country Club’ leads up to final tune & worldwide hit, ‘Everything About You’ which sends the crowd wild.
We then camped at the main stage for the next couple of bands, with Aussie Cult Rocker JIMMY BARNES up next on the main stage. I always had a soft spot for his Desmond Child produced ‘Freight Train Heart’ album from late 80s, so was looking forward to his set. Opening with the powerful ‘I’m in a Bad Mood’ and followed by two classics, in the shape of ‘I’d Die to Be with You’ and ‘Ride the Night Away’ are welcomed by the large crowd. JIMMY BARNES’S gravelly vocals are not everyone cup of tea, but he shows he’s a consummate performer with a great backing band in tow.
I’m not to be disappointed as my favourite tune of his is aired next, ‘Lay Down Your Guns’ with its great guitar tones and powerful rhythm section makes me wonder why I’ve never seen JIMMY BARNES live before. Barnes most famous hit ‘Working Class Man’ brings this entertaining set to a close.
With a quick set change one of my Daughters Favourite bands THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT, take to stage to great applause, with lead singer Phil Campbell donning a leftover Kaftan from Glastonbury, and looking a cross between Ronnie Wood & Ian Brown….
Opener ‘Caught In The Middle’, a personal favourite of mine gets the crowd moving, before big radio hit ‘Three Bullets’ is aired and showcases the talents of not only Campbell but great guitar work from Matt White and Paul Sayer. The band don’t hang around and try to cram as many songs as they can into their set, with the wonderful ‘The Way It Was and the Way it is Now’, before we are treated to tunes such as ‘Get Yourself Free’, ‘Another Spiral’ and the ROLLING STONES influenced ‘Only Friend’
One surprise of the day was the inspired cover of LED ZEPPELIN’s ‘Custard Pie’, that Phil Campbell does real justice to, and I’m sure even Robert Plant himself would have impressed…. With encores ‘A Deeper Cut’ and ‘Built-In Forgetter’ bringing this great set to an end.
The next band on the main stage were one of my highlights of weekend, the wonderful CHEAP TRICK whom we have seen support DEF LEPPARD front row last year in Cardiff. In my honest opinion CHEAP TRICK should have headlined tonight as they delivered a cracking set of 16 greatest hits songs from throughout their long career.
Kicking off with ‘Hello There’ and ‘You Got It Going On’, with vocalist Robin Zander, donning his trademark Dream Police uniform and delivering mazing vocals. ‘Big Eyes’ is swiftly followed by The Move cover of ‘California Man’, and mad as a box of frogs, guitarist Rick Nielsen starts throwing out dozens of picks, which mainly hit Pippa & the rest of the photographers in the pit, absolutely hilarious.
‘On Top of The World’ and the excellent ‘Southern Girls’, leads up nicely to crowd pleaser, ‘Ain’t That A Shame’, a cover of the Fats Domino hit. The catchy ‘Elo Kiddies’ and sublime ‘Baby loves to Rock’, is followed by a pointless bass solo from Tom Petersson, which is salvaged by a wonderful cover of Velvet Undergrounds ‘I’m Waiting for The Man’
Next up is my personal favourite and worldwide hit from the late 80s ‘The Flame’, which is delivered beautifully by Robin Zander.
‘I Want You to Want Me’ gets the crowd moving again, before the amazing ‘Dream Police’ and mega hit ‘Surrender’ leads us to the Final track of the evening ‘Goodnight Now’.
Tonight, CHEAP TRICK blew the roof off RAMBLIN MAN FAIR and I could have gone back there and then to the hotel and been a happy man , it was just a stunning performance.
As I stayed to watch to whole of the CHEAP TRICK set, Pippa had gone up to the Outlaw Country Stage to take photos of KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD, and by the time I got there the set was in full flow. He delivered great radio friendly hits, such as Planet Rock Radio playlist’ ‘Woman Like You’, a great cover of the Buffalo Springfield tune ‘Mr Soul’ and the wonderful ‘Heat Of The Sun’
The KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD band are a tight outfit live and besides those awesome trademark guitars, they have a brilliant vocalist in Noah Hunt, and he trademark voice really shines on ‘Shame Shame Shame’ and the Joe Walsh Cover ‘Turn to Stone’. The large crowd are absolutely loving it, with personal favourite ‘Blue on Black’ going down a storm, together with the Elmore James cover of ‘Talk to Me Baby’
The final two tracks of the night are stunning Jimi Hendrix covers, ‘Purple Haze’ and a frantic ‘Voodoo Child, that bring this excellent set to a close.
And so, to the final band of the night and Saturday Night Headliners BLACK STONE CHERRY, following up their headline appearance in 2016, with main man Chris Robertson saying RAMBLIN MAN felt like home, which was a lovely sentiment.
This explosive set commences with a thundering trio of ‘Rain Wizard’, ‘Me and Mary Jane’ and the stunning ‘Blind Man’, before we are treated to the soulful ‘In My Blood’, the wonderful ‘Like I Roll’ and great albums tracks such as ‘Soulcreek’ and ‘Devil’s Queen’
Personal favourite ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’ gets the packed crowd bouncing before the outstanding ‘White Trash Millionaire’, the classic ‘Lonely Train’ and set closer ‘Family Tree’ leads up to encore ‘Peace is Free’
BLACK STONE CHERRY delivered a thoroughly enjoyable set and made for a fitting end to a brilliant Saturday at the FAIR