Ramblin’ Man Fair made a welcome to Maidstone this week boasting its biggest and best line-up yet. Rushonrock was on site early to soak up (literally) the opening night atmosphere and check out a full roster of main stage talent.

Weather To Wear Wellies?

It seems last year’s tropical temperatures and wall-to-wall sunshine had fooled even the most hardy of festival goers into believing there would be no need for waterproofs at Ramblin’ Man. The weather gods had other ideas and those wearing wellies were justifiably smug as the start of this year’s three-day rock and roll shindig. On reflection, the relentless electrical storm that battered Maidstone and its environs around midnight could well have it an end to day one’s proceedings had it hit three hours earlier. The Ramblers have to be thankful for small mercies – and those even smaller ponchos that pack into the back pocket of your favourite flares. But who knows what mudbath awaits after the Gods of Thunder unleashed their fury on one corner of Kent?

The Lazys By Name, Ass-kicking Workhorses By Nature

Who knew there was yet another bunch of beer swilling, riff-laden Aussies ready to burst onto the British scene with all the fury of a rabid dingo? If Airbourne, Massive, Black Aces and The Wiggles aren’t enough then The Lazys are ready to make their presence felt with a bunch of infectious anthems and endearing craic. From Sydney via Toronto, the ass-kicking quintet might trade on indolence but 13 years of hard graft have gone into shaping a band built to break the UK. Highlights of a high octane set included the killer Little Miss Crazy, frontman Leon Harrison’s taunting of the sheltered VIPs and lead guitarist Matty Morris’s sheer delight at the situation he found himself in. We’d love to see a Lazys/Massive double header sometime soon…just saying.

Wild At Heart And Never Better

It’s no secret that Rushonrock has endured an occasionally fractious relationship with Wildhearts frontman Ginger over the years (a long-forgotten interview was lost in translation somewhere between North Shields and South Shields and a brief social media spat ensued). Nevertheless, it’s time to forgive and forget – or rather forgive and remember. Remember just how good The Wildhearts can be when they hit top form and, more importantly, have some fun. First in the press tent at 3pm sharp to perform a round of jovial interviews and looking fresher than the proverbial daisies, the band ripped through a gargantuan Greatest Hits set that gave headliners The Darkness some serious food for thought. With a belting new album in the bag, bass player Danny McCormack looking reassuringly fit and well and a riotous Ramblin’ Man set under their belts it’s onwards and upwards for Ginger and co. 

Kris Crosses Into New Territory As FM Tough It Out

Who’d have thought it? Kris Barras with backing singers. But as soon as the latest members of the Kris Barras Band made their presence felt it suddenly all made perfect sense. Lighting up the main stage with the brand of hard rocking blues that’s got everyone talking, this was a set that suggested a whirlwind year is just the start for a hugely ambitious and richly talented singer songwriter. Barras’s Ramblin’ Man journey began alongside Catlin Koch on the Outlaw Country Stage a couple of years back and his rise to main stage favourite has been both rapid and deserved. Watch this space. FM have been there, done that and worn the T-shirt and their sumptuous AOR has never sounded better. Is there a finer melodic rock anthem than That Girl? Doubtful.

The Darkness Shine

Justin Hawkins had a blast. Whether swapping from angelic all-white to silver velvet cat suit laced up to the chest (replete with matching cap), accusing the masses of failing to invest in the band’s more recent material with a choice selection of post-watershed language or offering up a fresh piece of Frankie Poullain to the individual who could scream the longest, this was The Darkness’s irrepressible frontman in his element. True stagecraft might be a dying art but Hawkins has it in spades and this laugh-a-minute romp through the pomp rockers’ dazzling back catalogue was simply perfect.

Images By Adam Kennedy