The Cult, Steel Panther and a host of others brought the love to Ramblin’ Man Fair festival in Kent over the weekend, as thousands flocked to the fourth instalment of the popular event. Taking place in Maidstone from 30th June – 1st July, other acts to appear included glam originators Mott The Hoople, the Lzzy Hale-led Halestorm and progressive super group Sons of Apollo.
Set in the idyllic settings of Mote Park and happening during a heatwave, attendees were treated to sun, fun, music and more, as the two-day event kicked off. With the unusually scorching heat, Gun singer Giuliano 'Jools' Gizzi joked: “We’ve brought the sun from Glasgow!” as the Scottish rockers set began. Attracting one of the biggest crowds of day one despite their early afternoon billing, the Gizzi brothers and co ripped through some of their biggest hits, including a roaring ‘Steal Your Fire’, and singalong ‘Word Up’.
Serving up “Indie rock in a Liam Neeson accent”, Therapy? focused heavily on their breakthrough ‘Troublegum’ release, kicking off with an angsty 'Isolation'. The Northern Irish band also dropped two numbers from their forthcoming ‘Cleave’ album into their set, in the form of single ‘Callow’, and anthem-in-waiting ‘Wreck It Like Beckett’. The upbeat mood of the music proved perfectly in tune with the festival, with a grinning Andy Cairns and Michael McKeegan clearly enjoying Ramblin' Man as much as the audience.
With Nashville three-piece The Cadillac Three and hilarious glam rock buffoons Steel Panther propping up the main stage, it was left to legends Mott The Hoople to close proceedings on the festival’s first day. Mixing their own classic tracks with a cover of The Velvet Underground’s ‘Sweet Jane’, the veteran act took their bows as the sun went down, with a euphoric ‘All The Young Dudes’ encapsulating the mood of the day.
With goth rock heroes The Cult headlining the second day, RMF proved much busier on day two, Sunday. Mixing Prog with Blues and Classic Rock (as well as Outlay Country the previous day), the event’s myriad stages catered for all tastes.
Despite running late due to technical issues, Prog in the Park stage headliner Fish’s set proved one of the most popular of the weekend, as the singer mixed tracks from his solo career with an almost complete rendering of Marillion’s high watermark ‘Clutching At Straws’ album. The Blues stage meanwhile saw the likes of the evergreen Gov’t Mule, ‘Pills’-downing Big Boy Bloater, and rising Kris Barras Band win over those away from the main stage action.
However, it was The Cult who stole the show, and the festival with their energetic, career-spanning performance. Led by the effortlessly charismatic Ian Astbury, the five-piece fired through their numerable hits. With ever-present sidekick Billy Duffy at his side, the Spiritwalker commanded from the stage, from opener ‘Wild Flower’ to the sleek blues of ‘Lil’ Devil’ and beyond.
Dedicating the closing ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ to late Motörhead front man Lemmy Kilmister, Astbury said; “Let’s do this one for Lemmy”. Visibly elated and taking their bows promising a return to U.K. stages in 2019, the singer concluded; “Whether you believe us or not, this means a lot to us”.
Happening earlier than in previous years, Ramblin’ Man Fair is expected to return to its traditional late-July slot in 2019.
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