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Ramblin’ Man 2017 review

Issue #52

Headliners from the weekend included funk rock giants, Extreme performing their first ever festival headlining show, ZZ top made a welcomed return to the UK and the always powerful, Saxon who closed proceedings on the Friday night.
Jonathan Graham

Rock & Roll to the EXTREME

Last month, some of rock music's absolute finest made their way Mote Park (right in the centre of Maidstone, Kent) for Ramblin’ Man Fair 2017, which is now in its third year and bigger than ever. The Guitar Interactive Magazine team were on-site to document some of the highlights of the weekend, including interviews with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Gales, Jared James Nichols, Damon Johnson from Black Star Riders and many more.

Headliners from the weekend included funk rock giants, Extreme performing their first ever festival headlining show, ZZ top made a welcomed return to the UK and the always powerful, Saxon who closed proceedings on the Friday night.

2017's event was the first to include a third day of live music and saw former Rainbow frontman, Graham Bonnet kick off Friday's classic heavy-rock line-up with precision, belting out fan favorites such as; "All Night Long," "Night Games" and the always necessary, "Since You Been Gone." 

Last In Line treated the crowd to a set of Dio classics next. Vivian Campbell was in his absolute element shredding through the back catalogue of "Stand Up And Shout" "Holy Diver," "Last In Line" and "Rainbow In The Dark" with frontman Andrew Freeman holding his own vocals. Y&T provided some huge servings of nostalgia, even without the aid of rhythm guitarist John Nymann who fell ill just before getting on the flight to the UK. Dave Meniketti had remarked it was the first time in 43 years he performed without Nymann, but incredibly tracks such as "Rescue Me" and "Mean Streak" sounded as good as ever!

Rounding off the Friday, Saxon put on a festival masterclass with a 19-song strong set filled with fan favourites including; "Dallas 1 pm" and "Princess of the Night." Saxon's performance during their closing number "Denim And Leather" was a perfect example of just how great a band they are.

Saturday’s strong lineup saw Jared James Nichols once again bring his triumphant blues-rock infused set to the Main Stage. After opening in similarly epic fashion last year. Former World Superbikes champion, James Toseland and his eponymous band also made a return (albeit from 2015's edition) to give a measured performance before the increasingly impressive British Lion took prime position on the main stage. No longer just Steve Harris' side project, guitarists, David Hawkins and Grahame Leslie played some tasty licks throughout, with an inspiring performance from frontman Richard Taylor.

Fresh off the back of his new release 'Resonate,' Glenn Hughes was every bit the icon during his set. Armed with new guitarist, Anders Bo Jespersen the new tracks, "Flow" and "Heavy" fit perfectly with his extensive live back catalogue which includes the likes of, "Muscle and Blood" and "Burn."

Another Saturday highlight was the twin guitar attack of Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson and the rest of the Black Star Riders crew. The weather was probably at its most miserable as they took to the stage, however, with Ricky Warwick in excellent voice there were smiles all around the muddy Mote Park during extraordinary renditions of "Whisky In The Jar" and "The Boys Are Back In Town."

Extreme finally claimed their well-earned place atop of a festival bill on Saturday. The rock titans rattled through a set of funk-filled classics including, "Cupid's Dead," "Lil Jack Horny" and "Get The Funk Out’’ as well as a couple of deeper cuts and of course,  impressive instrumental fretwork from Nuno Bettencourt. The lads often reminded the audience that it had taken them 30 years to headline a festival. Something tells me they won't have to wait quite as long for the next one.

Sunday’s highlights included. Vinnie Moore's technical perfection during UFO's set, Stone Broken, and great sets from The Quireboys and the criminally underrated Rival Sons. It was with Devin Townsend’s emotive and powerful performance, (including an incredible rendition of “Deadhead”) however,  that shot Sunday into action. A late replacement for Kansas who were unable to full their headline slot on the 'Prog' stage, there were definitely a few heads being scratched amongst those who were unfamiliar with Devin's music. That being said, the crowd must have tripled in size by the close of his set as many curious onlookers were keen to see what the fuss was all about.

With proceedings winding down on all the other stages, the scene was set for three chaps from Texas to do what they do best. ZZ Top treated the crowd to an unbelievable show laden with iconic and instantly recognisable mega-hits such as, "Gimme All Your Lovin" and ‘La Grange’ to name a couple. The (just over the 90-minute) set also contained a few choice covers which got the crowd singing along. Particularly during the Elvis classic, "Jailhouse Rock" which brought their rousing set (and the weekend) to a close.

What a weekend! Ramblin' Man Fair 2017 will take some beating. However, I clearly remember having a similar feeling about last year's event so who knows what we have in store for 2018... Van Halen anyone?

For more info on Ramblin’ Man Fair 2018 visit:


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