Ramblin' Man live review – Maidstone Mote Park
Venue: Maidstone Mote Park
There’s a perfect (non) storm of fine weather, great performances and palatable grub for the second running of Ramblin' Man festival.
Two security guards on the gate are looking a little bemused. “Was it like this last year?” asks one. “Everyone seems… so nice!”
“Yeah,” replies the other. “There’s no trouble here.”
And that sums up the atmosphere at Ramblin’ Man. This is a festival that attracts four generations and is a celebration of rock. Not just in the music across four stages, but also in what else is offered. There’s a stall selling customised banjos (seriously!), a Wall Of Death that gives you the chance to witness white-knuckle vintage motorbike stunts head on, and an Artist Bazaar, which has Q&A sessions with the likes of Roger Dean and Saxon’s Biff Byford, plus various bands on the bill. Oh, and there’s an exhibition of Dean’s work over the weekend.
All that in a layout that’s fan-friendly. The four stages are cleverly spaced out to try to limit any sound-bleed between them, but the walking distance is… well, it’s no distance at all. The food and booze stalls are in a compact area, and there are bottles of water in a huge plastic ‘honesty’ bin. They trust people here to pay the requisite cost by putting coins in a slot. It’s an unexpected and nice touch.
But at the core of it all is the music. And it’s local hopefuls Leogun who kick things off, on the newly introduced Rising Stage. Their dynamic rock’n’roll groove is enticing. In fact, over the two days, there are a succession of quality young bands appearing on this stage, showing the grass-roots scene in this country is strong. The energetic Massive Wagons, the thrusting City Of Thieves and the classy Colour Of Noise are certainly worth a mention from the first day.
It takes a little while for the Main Stage to get going. In all honesty, neither the slightly plodding Inglorious nor the anonymous The Dead Daisies offer much sparkle. The Prog Stage, though, fares better early on, with IO Earth’s gentle creativity and the colourful Frost.The latter, dressed in garish beachwear-style clothing, prove very entertaining.
The weather is balmy and the atmosphere relaxed but building by the time Terrorvision hit the Main Stage. This is really a nostalgia trip for those with fond memories of the band from their mid-90s heyday and there’s a knot of fans close to the front getting into the vibe of My House and Celebrity Hit List. But those who didn’t get into them back in the day are simply bemused, and even some who were fans two decades ago have now lost sympathy with the Terrors. Ginger Wildheart, meanwhile, is adequate but seems a little lost – his presentation needs a smaller environment.