The organisers had really done themselves proud this year for the main stage headliners were real rock royalty, to say I was excited to finally see one of my favourite bands ever is an understatement, I have followed this band since they were formed in 1976 and I was on a real high. Walking down to see them I could hear the huge cheers as they were coming on stage, I got down just in time to see then finish their opening number.
Double Vision then immediately into Head Games followed by the unmistakable intro of Cold As Ice which had the crowd singing at the top of their voices. I was brought up, as so many were, with the dulcet tones of original singer Lou Gramm, but after too many musical differences of opinion and a band break up founder of the band and lead guitarist Mick Jones replaced him with singer Kelly Hanson who has brought a much more rockier dynamic to the band. His voice is powerful, he sings all the classics with energy and his connection with the crowd is immediately noticed: he really knows how to work them into a frenzy. Continuing with the global commercial hit Waiting for A Girl Like You which Kelly had no problem getting all the audience to join in on, in fact he stopped and listened to the crowd doing it alone with beaming smiles on all the bands faces.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAESnjvz3lQ&w=560&h=315]
Talking of the band, it was time for the introductions and the man I’ve already mentioned Portsmouth born Mick Jones to come and take a bow centre stage to deafening applause. Mick is the architect of this bands amazing catalogue of albums and hits over the years, winner of Grammys, Golden Globes, and has produced ten multi-platinum albums and let me salute you for making my early life so enjoyable listening to you and your music. Mick has suffered quite a bit in the last few years and at 74 it was wonderful to see one of my rock idols up there doing his thing. The rest of the line up were Bruce Watson guitar, Jeff Pilson bass, multi-instrumentalist Tom Gimbel rhythm guitar, flute and saxophone, Mike Bluestein keyboards and Chris Frazier drums. There were a lot of extended solos during the set and some nice stage moments: Chris filling his tom toms with water with great effect which kept the photographers in the pit happy.
The hits continued: Dirty White Boy, Feels Like the First Time, and on Urgentthe brilliant sax solo which was voted as one of the best ever in rock, played by Tom had never sounded better, more solos, drum and keyboard this time followed, and then one of my all-time faves Jukebox Hero.
Then the weirdest moment of their set where Kelly turned into some evangelical preacher and spoke about the Groove and getting it under your skin; it seemed to go on forever, it did go on for about 10 minutes which was eight minutes too long and the puzzled faces in the audience said it all.. Time for a trot back to the press tent and get the stuff together, they did lose a few people over the preaching bit, walking back I heard their other global hit I Want to Know What Love is , and they ended their all too short 90-minute set with Hot Blooded.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raNGeq3_DtM&w=560&h=315]
In its five-year history this is probably the biggest name that Ramblin’ Man have had, I would have liked to have seen them perform longer but Foreigner brought the Hollywood Pizazz to Kent this weekend and it was a great finale to a brilliant festival.
So that was Ramblin’ Man 2019, here’s to the next one and who knows what surprises the team have planned for next year.
Review by Dave Martin
Photography by metalplanetmusic