Ramblin’ Man 2018
Set in the glorious surroundings of Maidstone’s Mote Park with its rolling Kent green land and huge oaks, this festival is set against a beautiful backdrop with 2 days of lovely sunshine without a raindrop forecast, what could be better!!
GUN were the first band on the list to check out and this enduring band from Glasgow, although still releasing consistent albums, knew that it was the classics that the people wanted to hear, so with an allocated time slot of 45 minutes they pushed on with ‘Don’t Say its all Over’, ‘Better days’, ‘Word up’ and a thunderous version of ‘Steal your fire’. The band certainly have earnt the right over the years to grace the main stage at any festival.
Next up on the main stage were Nashville’s finest export in many a year THE CADALLAC THREE blending the picking of Country to the monstrous riffs of rock. Vocalist / Guitarist – Jaren Johnstone is every inch the master of ceremonies, taking centre stage and churning out the likes of ‘Bury Me in my Boots’, ‘I’m Southern’ to the heartfelt ballad of ‘White Lightening’, and to end proceedings a huge version of ‘The South’ . This group will make the upcoming ‘Black Stone Cherry’ tour even more appetising due to the fact they have been announced as support on all UK shows.
STEEL PANTHER again on Main Stage certainly got tongues a wagging on the build up to show time due to it being a family orientated festival, but the attitude by the vast majority of people was ‘ if you don’t like it and are offended, go to the other stages on site’ !” and boy oh boy they didn’t disappoint and it is a reviewers worst nightmare!! I could fill an entire A4 pad regarding what took place in the one hour. They offended everyone from DEF LEPPARD’s one armed drummer Rick Allen, to an insane version of ‘Crazy Train’ with vocalist Michael Starr impersonating Ozzy – an absolute treat !!. Songs such as ‘Goin in the Backdoor’, ‘Gloryhole’ and ‘Community Property’ could have been enough for the nice residents of Maidstone to cause a riot, but thankfully no harm done and in a world of doom and gloom the sight of so many people laughing as one to the sight of ‘Lexxi Foxx’ on bass with his mirror and hairspray was a highlight in the humour ratings.
MOTT THE HOOPLE were the Saturday night headliners and rightly deserving it was too. The last time MOTT played an outdoor UK festival was Buxton 1974!! So this was long overdue to say the least. Opening up with ‘Golden Age of Rock n Roll’ they peppered the set with classic after classic. ‘Rollaway the Stone’, ‘Rose’, ‘Walking with a Mountain’ and, catchiest song all day, the timeless ‘All the Way from Memphis’ with Ian Hunter getting stuck into the chorus like his life depended on it. The group then decided to throw a couple of medleys into the mix, no doubt due to the huge stockpile of material they have recorded and released over the years. One of the hotly anticipated tracks was ‘All the Young Dudes’ and was met with a roar of approval. A great end to day one and a perfect start to proceedings with the weather behaving itself for a change.
You always have to pity the poor artist that has to open day 2 of a festival to a field of hungover, burnt to a crisp zombies!! THE LAST INTERNATIONALE had this unenviable task of mammoth proportions but undeterred and fronted by the immense vocals of Delila Paz this outfit from New York left a mark on Maidstone with some ease. Kicking off with ‘Berta Berta’ a BRANDFORD MARALIS cover and ending with ‘1968’ with the frantic bass work of special guest Billy Sheehan, this was an enjoyable and surprising start to a long hot day with Delia being a frontwoman with a bright future.
No introduction required regarding TYLER BRYANT AND THE SHAKEDOWN, and anyone who has seen AC/DC, Aerosmith or GNR will testify that they have earnt their reputation as support to the above mentioned artists. Racing out the traps at funky breakneck speed Tyler Bryant had all the moves and twirls but sadly the set fizzled and faded and the end result was a few people scratching their heads wondering what all the fuss was about.
Judging by the mass of people gathered for the arrival of Atlanta’s BLACK BERRY SMOKE, this was one of the most anticipated acts of the weekend and as per usual the band were on top form with the roots of Dixie firmly embedded into their DNA with toes a-tappin and people a-dancin. They showered us with songs both past and present ‘Six Ways to Sunday’, ‘Let it burn’ and a fitting tribute to the Beatles with ‘Come Together’. A particular highlight was the beautiful ‘One Horse Town’, frontman Charlie Starr even made reference to the Rolling fields of Mote Park being just like home in Georgia. An effortless smooth band like this will one day be contenders to headline this event
Having been fortunate enough to have a pre-show chat backstage with Izzy Hale, frontwoman of HALESTORM, she was about the most mild mannered, approachable person you could ever meet. The transformation, no more than an hour later, was remarkable. Hitting the stage in her leather studded jacket, red skirt, black stilettos and guitar slung low. The Izzy from an hour ago had vanished and the possessed frontwoman with the voice of Sebastian Bach and Rob Halford combined, was now nothing short of spellbinding. The band were determined to let Maidstone know what the hype was all about . Particular highlights were ‘Black Vultures’ , ‘Love Bites’, ‘I Get Off’ and new song / single ‘Uncomfortable’. Izzy even introduced us to her brother on drums who kept us entertained with a quick drum solo. Hats off to HALESTORM for giving us 110% and to Izzy for sharing her amazing vocal ability with us.
This year’s event were brought to a fitting climax by the one and only THE CULT. I had to leave the show early due to time restraints and transport, but, boy oh boy, what an impressive 5 songs I managed to catch. ‘Rain, ‘L’il Devil’, ‘ Peace Dog’, ‘Wild Flower’ came bursting out of Billy Duffy’s crunching guitar and Ian Astbury, the total rock god with the slick back hair, dark shades, busting out the moves to a sound so crystal clear that the soundman deserves a pay rise.
So that was Ramblin Man 2018. Honourable mentions go out to Myles Kennedy playing an acoustic version of IRON MAIDEN’s ‘the Trooper’ on the Outlaw Country stage. As well as for the man mountain, FISH, headlining the Prog Stage and reminding us just how important his musical legacy is
Roll on Ramblin Man 2019!!
Review by Steve Bruty