Spirit Of Rock Presents Ramblin Man Fair 2020 sadly is the latest music festival to cancel their 2020 festival. They have made an extensive announcement on the decision to cancel and have announced dates for 2021. The fest was to feature Hawkwind, Clutch, Blackstar Riders, Monster Truck, Vintage Caravan, The New Death Cult, and Crown Lands and the Prog In The Park Stage lineup of Big Big Train (Headliner), Curved Air (Special Guest), Pure Reason Revolution, Moon Safar, and Lazuli. Continue reading
The Ramblin’ Man Fair looks even better for 2020 after their just-announced additions of Clutch (3 different sets), Grand Magus, and Inspector Cluzo. Clutch will have a three-day residency at the fest playing three distinctly different sets each day. It will be Clutch’s debut as a festival headliner in the UK! This year the festival will take place on the 17th, 18th and 19th July. Clutch mainstage’s headline on Friday 17th July will also feature special guests Monster Truck. Also, already confirmed for Grand Magus (as special guests) are Hawkwind (Headliner), Vintage Caravan, The New Death Cult, Crown Lands on the Grooverider Stage on Sunday 19thJuly. And the full Prog In The Park Stage lineup of Big Big Train (Headliner), Curved Air (Special Guest), Pure Reason Revolution, Moon Safar, Lazuli and Blurred Vision. The Inspector CluzojoinClutch on the Blues Stage. Ramblin’ Man Fair is shaping up to be an incredible 2020. Ramblin’ Man Fair takes place at Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent UK17th, 18th & 19th July.Continue reading
Spirit Of Rock Presents the 2019 Ramblin’ Man Fair just added two more names to its already impressive lineup. Acclaimed rockers Airbourne join the bill, along with young Country renegade Jesse Dayton. This is with a lineup already led by Foreigner, The Darkness, Black Stone Cherry, The Wildhearts, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Living Color, Anathema, Riverside, Beth Hart, Richie Kotzen, Orange Goblin, The Obsessed, Crobot and more! Ramblin man takes place at Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent UK on 19th, 20th& 21st July 2019.Continue reading
After the glorious weather of the Saturday, Sunday at Ramblin’ Man greets us with rain. Lots and lots of rain and some dampened (chortle chortle) moods. As a result the arena certainly seems noticeably emptier than yesterday; but alas, duty calls. Even Sweden’s Blues Pills and their brand of psychedelic, 60s rock can’t perturb the downpour. Despite their suiting to sunnier climes however they go down a storm (!), as Elin Larsson showcases her massive, Janis Joplin-esque voice.
Despite the grim weather, Icelandic rockers Solstifir have a sizable turnout. Their presence on the main stage and the warm welcome they receive is incredibly gratifying. In spite of their short set, their performances of what has become their signature song, ‘Otta’ will hopefully elevate them further into the rock arena. Which, judging by today’s performance, they will most definitely deserve.
The rain proves a problem for the Prog Stage particularly as its shallow shelter fails to protect equipment (and band members) from the downpour. For Knifeworld sound problems would prove very detrimental as many of their instruments (and backing vocals) seemingly fail to come out of the PA at all. Kavus Torabi’s drawling, quirky vocals are always clear, but their complex and diverse structures are damaged severely, such as on ‘Send Him Seaworthy’ where its prominent Bassoon sections sounded completely nonexistent.
The Blues Tent enjoys a significant audience for the day, bolstered by those seeking shelter from the rain; as a result catching Aaron Keylock proves impossible, but from the outside he sounds on fine form. Over at the Prog Stage, The Pineapple Thief play a triumphant set which balances between their more delicate songs such as ‘Magnolia’ and their rockier kin of the likes of ‘Alone At Sea’ with great fluidity, showing their dexterity and understated diversity, proving a highlight of the entire weekend.
There’s a lot of love for Polish lads Riverside, and with good reason. Since the release of Shrine of New Generation Slaves (InsideOut) they have worked their way into the hearts of countless devotees. Their set today is nothing less than triumphant, seemingly able to bring the sunshine despite the clouds, lifting the spirits and smiles of the now rather soggy crowd. Their delight at the live setting is obvious, playing with gusto and passion compositions such as ‘Hyperactive’, ‘O2 Panic Room’ and ending with an immaculate rendition of ‘We Got Used To This’. This has to be one of the performances of the weekend.
Finally the rain eases and the sun shines through, creating a beautiful and apt scene for Alcest and their melancholic but gorgeous shoe-gazing take on prog. Despite his very reserved, even shy nature, Niege grows each time into his role as the band’s centerpiece, talking at greater lengths and showing genuine appreciation to the crowd. Mixing their earlier black metal orientated songs with the latter, softer elements, their set is one of pure majesty and hypnotic beauty that completely draws everyone in. Closing with a mesmerizing “Deliverance”, the band gradually leave the stage, finally with Niege as he turns, humbled by the rapturous response.
Possibly one of the most anticipated performances from the weekend comes from Seasick Steve. He arrives on stage dressed in garb that you wouldn’t find out of place on a lumberjack, and unassuming persona makes him even more endearing to the huge crowd in front of him. He regales tales of the origins of his many handmade instruments to the amused crowd, who are seemingly baffled that he can produce such music from such rickety creations. Songs like ‘Thunderbird’ and ‘Walkin’ Man’ transform the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Very few people are as iconic and instrumental in the world of Prog rock as Ian Anderson, and, while his legacy needs not reiterating, today his performance is certainly enjoyable but far from perfect. Brimming with an ever present enthusiasm and his quirky sense of humour and personality, Anderson is a joyous presence with sadly but expectedly some signs of wear and tear setting in. What really detracts however is the ill fitting, over the top style of guitarist Florian Ophale which doesn’t seem to make sense. Given a spot to show off, Ophale certainly has skill but his virtuoso performance does not match to the rest of the set at all, as if a last minute addition. Songs like ‘Agualung’ are simply timeless and can never fail, but the presence of Ophale leaves too sour a taste.
Marillion are one of those bands that seem to have always been there. It would be difficult to imagine the progressive rock scene without them, as they are the reason why many in the crowd are here today. Opening with the fifteen minute marvel that is ‘Gaza’, Steve Hogarth and co prove their longevity. Their set is filled with relatively new tomes, the post pre-1995 entry being ‘Sugar Mice’ but to the delight of the crowd. Steve Hogarth’s stage-based eccentricities and his unique vocal style (apparently unaffected by time) are on top form. Much of the set comes from their latest release, ‘Sounds That Can’t Be Made’, arguably their best yet. The crowd sings ‘Power’ as though it was their last breath, and as they close all too soon with ‘The Invisible Man’; it is clear that Marillion reach stretches beyond the progressive world.
WORDS: CHRIS TIPPELL & SARAH WORSLEY
In the absence of the much missed High Voltage Festival the UK festival scene has been screaming for a high profile outdoor festival which specializes in the worlds of classic rock and progressive rock. On a glorious, sunny Saturday the gates open to the sport park in Maidstone, Kent, revealing everything we rock fans need, namely great names and booze. The main and Prog stages sit either side of the site, as well as a beer festival bar and a third stage that will host both Country & Western today and Blues tomorrow. Welcome to the inaugural Ramblin’ Man Fair!
Touchstone hold a very special place in the hearts of their fans. So it comes as no surprise that they amass one of the biggest crowds of the day. With their last ever shows looming, it’s no wonder that as the first bars of ‘Wintercoast’ burst through the speakers, the crowd are completely immersed in the five piece. Kim Seviour’s vocals are on magnificent form, and it is clear that the reaction of the crowd means a lot to her and the rest of the band. Their encore is their renowned cover of Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’ for which they are accompanied by John Mitchell on guitar. The prog world will be very sorry to see them go.
Things take a psychedelic turn as prog upstarts Messenger prove that age doesn’t mean a damn thing. Having already supported the likes of Devin Townsend it is clear that we can expect great things from them. Unfortunately the vastness of the field locale seems to overwhelm their folk tinted melodies, and many an interest is lost. That being said, it is an impressive set, which only hints at things to come.
Your scribe’s first visit to the main stage sees Blue Oyster Cult prove why they are one of rock’s most underrated gems. Arriving to the Game Of Thrones theme tune, BOC put on a master-class performance, which shows both experience and, perhaps, a surprising level of energy. Donald Roesar, Eric Bloom and Kasim Sultan prowl the stage and exude charisma, backed by a sterling set of anthems including a monstrous (pun entirely intended) ‘Godzilla’. Sadly a large portion of the crowd leave once THAT song is played, but this doesn’t take away from a sterling set which proves that these legends are so much more than a one song band.
British Prog heroes Haken are soaring right now, garnering plaudits a plenty and following a very well received EP release, and today’s performance shows signs of just why, if with some inconsistencies. Beginning with the short and shaper ‘Premonition’ from Visions (Lasers Edge) and The Mountain’s (InsideOut) ‘In Memoriam’ , they kick the Prog dial up with 3 long players closing the set. An unusually mixed set sadly sees a flat performance of breakthrough song ‘The Cockroach King’ which seems to lack its urgency and power. A stunning rendition of ‘Crystallised’ following on however certainly makes amends as the set closer.
There cannot be a rock and metal festival goer on the planet now who hasn’t seen legends Saxon at some stage now, seemingly an ever present each year, and with performances like this it’s a bloody good job too. Offering very few surprises, their set is loaded with the familiar classics that everyone knows and loves to rapturous response from the gathered masses. Biff Byford gives an engaging and genuine display as ever as he commands his troops through classic anthems like ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ and the timeless ‘Wheels Of Steel’, barking that they will play until they are booted off the stage. No such set cutting occurs however as they close the set with a rousing ‘Denim And Leather’, further cementing their reputation as one of metal’s most beloved acts.
Up on the main stage, prog maestros Dream Theater are going through the motions. Sadly despite their flawless, CD-perfect performance it feels as though they’re lacking personality. There is a sense of love ‘em and leave ‘em about this performance, and with the exception of Jordan Rudess the band looked as though this was a 9-5 job. Even the heart-wrenching ‘The Spirit Carries On’ falls flat emotionally, and the bombastic ‘Burning My Soul’ feels forced and perfunctory. The humdrum nature of closer ‘Behind the Veil’ bookends what has been a worrying glimpse into the bands future.
The last few years have seen Anathema rise from underground heroes to one of prog’s most celebrated entities, showcased as second to headliners to icons Camel. Renowned for their knack to bring grown men to tears, today they give a set full of some more energetic numbers but still with that trademark emotion and serenity. After a low key but building start to ‘Anathema’, things kick up a gear into ‘Untouchables Part 1’ before a raucous ‘Thin Air’ gives momentum. The splendor of the vocal harmonies really shows on ‘The Lost Song Part 3’, showing Lee Douglas’ growing ever more confident performance after performance; particularly so when she leads on the beautiful ‘The Lightning Song’. Closing with a harder and more energised rendition of ‘Distant Satellites’ than on record, they show just how versatile they are. Yes it may be songs that they have aired countless times in the last few years, but they are played as stunningly as ever.
The level of adoration for Camel the prog community has is unrivaled, and with good reason. Since their incarnation back in 1971, Andy Latimer and his brethren have produced some of the most iconic albums both inside and outside progressive music. It is a privilege to be amongst the crowd tonight, and as ‘Never Let Go’ begins proceedings, it is clear that their form has not floundered. Latimer is on his finest form yet; both his guitar work and vocals are flawless. Each song is met with elated cheers and fervent applause, with song like ‘Spirit of the Water’ flowing seamlessly into ‘Air Born’. Noise bleed from the Scorpions set does punctuate some of the quieter segments, but Latimer is undeterred proving that Camel are the real headliners of a glorious first day in Maidstone.
With the pull of the returning Camel on the Prog Stage, the crowd for German legends Scorpions is not quite as rammed as perhaps expected, and the huge delay does not help shake the underwhelming feeling. When they finally do take to the stage its to a somewhat flat and uninspiring rendition of ‘Going Out With A Bang’, at this point a seemingly ironic statement. Fortunately proceedings pick up with the sterling ‘Make It Real’ and ‘The Zoo’, as guitarists Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs and drummer James Kottak show tonnes of energy and Cheshire cat grins.
For the most part this is an immensely enjoyable set that balances classics such as ‘Wind Of Change’ and ‘Big City Nights’ with stellar tracks off the new album Return To Forever (Sony) like the monumental ‘We Built This House’ which sounds right at home with the anthems. But inconsistency sets in with a couple of moments that don’t hit the mark: for example the momentum killing acoustic segment. Inconsistencies aside this is a thoroughly enjoyable set, and as they close with favourite’“Rock You Like A Hurricane’ they affirm their legendary status with a great, if not perfect, close to day one.
WORDS: CHRIS TIPPELL & SARAH WORSLEY
Jun 20: Hellfest – Clisson (FR)
Jul 11: Be Prog My Friend – Barcelona (ES)
Jul 12: UK Tech Fest – Newark (UK)
Jul 19: Night of the Prog – Loreley (DE)
Jul 25: Ramblin Man Fair – Maidstone (UK)
HAKEN European tour:
Sep 16: Talking Heads – Southampton (UK)
Sep 17: Electric Ballroom – London (UK)
Sep 18: Gorilla – Manchester (UK)
Sep 19: The Garage – Glasgow (UK)
Sep 20: The Key Club – Leeds (UK)
Sep 22: Rescue Rooms – Nottingham (UK)
Sep 23: The Haunt – Brighton (UK)
Sep 25: La Maroquinerie – Paris (FR)
Sep 26: Magasin 4 – Brussels (BE)
Sep 27: Melkweg – Amsterdam (NL)
Sep 28: Logo – Hamburg (DE)
Sep 29: Magnet – Berlin (DE)
Sep 30: Backstage Club – Munich (DE)
Oct 01: Euroblast Festival – Cologne (DE)
Oct 03: Vega Small Hall – Copenhagen (DK)
Oct 04: Sticky Fingers – Gothenburg (SE)
Oct 05: John Dee – Oslo (NO)
Oct 06: Klubben/Fryshuset – Stockholm (SE)
Oct 08: Tavastia – Helsinki (FI)