The third annual Ramblin’ Man Fair kicks off this Friday (there’s an extra day this year), and those who know a good festival bill when they see it will be travelling to Maidstone’s Mote Park for three days of delicious grub, craft beer and decent weather (we’ve checked: the forecast is good).
Mostly, though, they’ll be there for the music, from Friday night headliners Saxon (who played here in 2015) to ZZ Top, Dokken and Extreme, whose only UK festival appearances this year will be at Ramblin’ Man.
Stage times were published today, but if you can’t decide which of over 60 bands across four stages you most want to watch, we’ve hand-picked just five we’re really looking forward to seeing.
In 1976 ZZ Top took the Worldwide Texas Tour out on the road. Amongst those inhabiting the stage every night — carefully corralled between the agave plants and the cacti — were several steer, at least one black buffalo, and various vultures. And in 1985, as the success of Eliminator propelled the band into the stratosphere, the band helicoptered their famous car over the Monsters Of Rock festival. In 2017 they may cut back on the livestock and the aircraft, but they’ll still put on one helluva show, and they’ll certainly bring the boogie. For ZZ Top remain one of rock’s great live acts, playing almost half a century’s worth of shuffling blues and machine-drilled hits with almost telepathic precision.
For people of a certain age, this is going to be something else. In My Dreams? Dream Warriors? The Hunter? Into The Fire? Alone Again? These are some of the greatest melodic rock anthems of all time, and we fully expect a number of enthusiasts who know every single word to gather against the barriers and help turn Mote Park into something resembling The Sunset Strip in 1983.
Rival Sons have spent much of the last two years on the road supporting Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, honing their live craft and learning how to impress audiences who aren’t necessarily all that interested. When they played at Ramblin’ Man in 2015 singer Jay Buchanan was a bare-footed sensation and one of the stars of the weekend, and we’ve got a feeling they’ll pour everything they’ve learned into their headline slot on the Grooverider stage. This could be special.
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The Russian duo’s third album Lighthouse was winner of the highly coveted Album Of The Year at last year’s Prog Awards, and this is a rare opportunity to see how their beautiful music — part chamber, part progressive rock - works outdoors on a big stage. If the weather’s right, we expect this to be utterly magical.
The Picture Books
The story of The Picture Books is really quite something. They met in a skateboard park, build their own motorbikes, and are taking the US by storm. Not bad for a pair who used to live in a garage in small-town Germany. They claim they can’t play their instruments, but they still produce a savage sound, mixing primordial blues with almost almost industrial rhythms. Riotous.
Ramblin’ Man festival takes place at Mote Park in Maidstone, Kent, from 28-30 July. Tickets and VIP packages are on sale now.