RAMBLIN' MAN FAIR – MOTE PARK – MAIDSTONE, KENT

July 23rd – July 24th 2016

“Here I Go Again”, but not “on my own”!

The Pattaya Mail Team hit Ramblin' Man Fair 2016

But First I must tell you about a terrific vacation spread around the Week of Ramblin' Man by the Pattaya Mail Team in the South of England.

I had been bought a wonderful Business Class Seat on the British Airways direct flight from Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok to Heathrow, England as a 60th Birthday present by a very kind American gentleman. Arriving at the Airport in plenty of time I proceeded to book in. This could not have been easier and the lovely girl explained where I had to go next. Immigration and Security checks were both expertly handled and quickly done, as was Immigration and I soon found myself in the Lounge gratefully sipping on an early Morning Bloody Mary. Boarding again ran smoothly and I found myself in a delightful seat that could be easily moved into different positions from Upright for reading or eating all the way through the Spectrum to a Flat Bed if you required to rest. The Entertainment section was more than adequate. But best of all was proper food on an Airline and Excellent Service with a smile from the British Airways Staff. Full Marks all around. Departure from the Aircraft was easy although we did have to wait One and a Half hour for our Luggage to be retrieved, apparently due to a Staff shortage!
But then meeting up with the first of the Pattaya Mail team Bag Man Trevor Saunders we were soon heading down a hassle free M 25 arriving to our destination The Wool Pack, Tenterden, Kent. What a lovely Hotel/Pub. We were greeted by the Young Staff and asked if we would like to be shown our rooms but we asked if we could possibly try the local Ales before retiring. This was met with huge grins and we were soon sat in the Corner of their pleasant rustic Pub, supping Local Ales from the pump. Before staggering up the stairs to find our rooms. Last orders were pretty relaxed at the Wool Pack for residents. The next four days were spent in idyllic bliss visiting Family and friends in the area (My Lovely Mum lives in Tenterden). Returning every night to the Wool Pack for a Sumptuous Meal washed down with plenty of Cask Ales. All was well with the World and the Sun shone continuously for four wonderful days.

On the actual day of my much anticipated 60th Birthday we unwisely prized ourselves away from the delights of the Wool Pack and went to join some Colleagues and Ex College Friends (actually from Thanet Technical Catering College, Broadstairs,) at the Botany Bay Hotel Kingsgate , Broadstairs, Kent.

Sadly we were pretty sure we had made a mistake as soon as we arrived. But as some of our group were already in their Bed catching up from Jet lag and others were on the way looking forward to a tour of our old haunts from our College Days in Broadstairs some Forty years previously. We decided to take a chance and stay.

The Sea views from the Botany Bay were spectacular and the weather was set fine. After a very pleasant visit to the lovely seaside town of Broadstairs. We returned to the Hotel for celebrations for my 60th birthday Dinner. There were seven of us in our group travelling from all over the world to be there for the night. Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and then from all over England. The average age of our group was just under 65.

 

We were greeted at the table by somebody who appeared to be in charge, and very abruptly told there would be no food for at least an hour. Why I am not sure as there were only two other tables in the restaurant. We said we did not mind as we were in no hurry. One of our group then very quietly mentioned in an insider comment that she was indeed very hungry as she had not eaten since Breakfast. She also included an expletive, but this could hardly be heard by the guest sitting next to her, and certainly did not affect the other customers in the Restaurant. But obviously loud enough for the lady who had rudely told us that it would be an hour for any food. As in what I can only describe as a scream starting off at us about how we would have to moderate our language as she was just not prepared to put up with this sort of thing. This went on for five minutes, before she marched away. This not only left us stunned and embarrassed, but also the rest of the restaurant. We wanted to leave but by then it was 8.30 pm and we doubted we could find anywhere else to accommodate us.

After Forty Five minutes our First Courses arrived. I had The Home Made Carrot Soup. It tasted as if the Carrots had been washed in it. After one mouth full I pushed my bowl to the centre of the table where it was soon joined by the rest of the First Courses. We had by then ordered more wine. After another hour nothing had happened so one of the girls in our party politely asked when and if our wine or Main Courses would arrive. This immediately caused a row between three of the Staff as to whose fault it was that the wine had not been ordered. Then the lady who had screamed at us before came out to have another go at us. Telling us we would be lucky to get any food at all as ALL the staff had been preparing a Birthday party for the other group in the Restaurant. Has the Botany Bay not heard of Mise en Plus?????
Eventually our main courses arrived an hour and a half after we sat down. Predictably they were inedible and were pushed to the middle of the Table where they nestled in with the Starters that had yet to be cleared. At this point we gave up and paid the Bill in full. Our American friend leaving a Forty Pound Tip to the Junior Staff as He felt rather sorry for them. We retired to the Bar. But once settled we went to the Bar and were told there would be no more service for us. Not Alcohol, Coffee, Soft Drinks, anything. Not even the two bottles of Prosecco which we had paid for before the meal. We were told we could pick them up when the Bar re-opened at 11.00am the next day or collect a refund the next day. End of party. You only get one 60th birthday Party and this was mine. We certainly were not drunk, (Never got the chance.) This one woman’s vendetta against us is still a mystery to us.


The next morning we left as early as possible already having paid our Bills. We had a quick breakfast at MacDonald’s where at least the food was quickly served and with a smile. The Girls stayed and had the Breakfast at the Hotel which was just as bad as the previous night and equally rudely served. Terrible Hotel/Restaurant with this sort of attitude it will soon shut down. Shame as it’s a Shepherd Neame Pub one of the last family owned Breweries in England. To be avoided at all costs.


But things soon got back to normal as we moved up to Maidstone and moved into the Premier Inn, Maidstone. Perfect for sharing a room to keep the costs down, clean and full of all you needs. For the Pre Rambling’ Man warm up The Patty Mail team had chosen Lashings Sports Bar, Upper Stone Street, Maidstone. What a great Sports Bar, lots of memorabilia around the walls, plenty of Live Sport to watch on their many Televisions, spotlessly clean, and fun young Staff.


We had been reserved a table in the Chill Zone. Well this soon warmed up as the Drink and food started to flow. The portions were expertly prepared and massive. If only there had been more nights it would have not been just one visit to Lashings.

Then it was back to the Premier Inn in the early hours of the morning for some shut eye for the main event. Not for us sleeping under canvass we learnt that lesson last year.

Lashings Sports Bar
All of us would like to thank David Folb and his Team for a wonderful night.

Rambling’ Man Fair is set within the beautiful surroundings of Mote Park, situated in the heart of Maidstone.


2015 was the inaugural year for this prestige new music festival, and despite the abysmal weather last summer, it still proved a major hit with all that attended. On the back of this success, albeit the slightly disappointing attendance figures, partly due to the incessant rain which fell on the Friday and Sunday, RMF promised to come back kicking and screaming even louder in 2016. Well, they were true to their word and delivered in every way. With an impressive line-up that covered all genres including Classic Rock, Blues, Prog Rock and a smidgen of Country, it appealed to everyone’s tastes.
Thankfully the weather was much kinder to all attendees this year, indeed it happened to fall on the hottest weekend of the year! This no doubt helped to ensure the gathered throng were entertained throughout the whole weekend.


Friday 22nd July


For the privileged few of us, who’d decided to brave the elements and go for the “Glamping” option, the weekend’s proceedings started in earnest on the Friday. Having made the epic journey to Maidstone, we’d arrived at the campsite by 12.00 noon. A small group of us led the way to the ready-made tent, and unpacked our meagre belongings.

This completed, we rambled on to find the Box Office to exchange our tickets for wristbands. We were sent on a bit of a walkabout, as the communication was a bit ropy regarding wristband exchange points. However, it was a pleasant walk to and from the Box office to the Glamping site, taking in the spectacular views of the river and parkland.

Once back at the campsite, we took full advantage of The Ranch Bar which was conveniently located just inside the area perimeter fence. Needless to say, everyone was gasping for a beer or three by this point, and the Glamping Site Bar turned out to be a great meeting point and an invaluable socializing exercise, or at least that was my opinion ;)

One added bonus on the Friday evening, turned out to be an intimate gig at Maidstone Leisure Centre. It was only a 5 minute walk from Camping at The Mote and Glamping at The Ranch! It was billed as “a little warm up and taster for the main event”. Unfortunately the gig suffered a majorly delay in starting, due to the PA system being stuck en route in major traffic jams. However, once the doors did finally open, the remaining few were rewarded with a good show. Hogjaw opened with a fairly short but sweet set. Then Thin Lizzy Official duo Ricky Warwick and Damon Johnson took to the stage, and played a fun filled set to the small ensemble. Their rollicking, diverse setlist contained all manner of material, spanning the past two decades of bands they have individually played in, as well as new solo material and covers of songs from their favourite artists. Finally, once everyone had staggered back to Glamping, we settled outside the infamous Mark Taylors tent, and as is traditional, carried on drinking till the small hours.


Saturday 23rd July

Well, it wasn’t the earliest of starts to the day, having to nurse a Hangover from Hell! Still, it was a small price to pay after the full-on evening frivolities. Despite this, Cheryl and I decided we’d try out the glamorous showers. Unfortunately, neither of us are blessed with physic abilities, and as no-one had had the foresight to label up which blocks were the hot or cold, it was a game of Russian Roulette and we took our chances. YES, you guessed correctly, we chose the WRONG ONES! Lathered up and shampoo in hand, we pressed the shower buttons, and were met by a torrent of freezing cold water. Who needs the Ice Bucket Challenge when you have these? We contented ourselves with the fact it did prove to be a valuable sobering up exercise. Anyway, once we’d stopped shivering, and our ablutions completed, we managed to gather the troops, and head for the entrance, to take advantage of the VIP early entry. Having collected our VIP Goodie Bags, we split up and took a stroll around the myriad of stalls and eateries on offer. This accomplished, we headed to the revamped VIP area. Having had access to this area last year, I was astonished how much it had grown from 2015? The wooden built structure seemed to have been completely rethought for 2016. I have to give credit to whoever redesigned this area for the festivals second year, as it seemed to offer far more sheltered space and standing room than last year’s setup? Again a few misunderstandings ensued in regards to the few of us who are “Founder Members”, as our promised designated Chill Out area hadn’t been sorted at this point, and we were all unsure which areas we had access to? This was soon rectified, and as with 2015, we had access to the upstairs bar area, as well as a lovely picket fence lined grass area with picnic benches.


After meeting up and chatting to our fellow Ramblers, and partaking of a few beverages, a few of us managed to tear ourselves away from the Free Bar and take a wander over to the Outlaw Country Stage to watch the last few numbers by Hayseed Dixie. These guys have to be one of the funniest and entertaining feel-good bands out there. Bringing their awesome upbeat country-style Rock covers to a very eager and enthusiastic audience, needless to say, they went down a storm.


HAYSEED DIXIE

At this point the glorious sun was blazing down on us, and tummies were a rumblin’, so we grabbed a couple of pizzas between us and sat on the grass in the Main Arena. This proved to be a great vantage point for the Classic Rock Stage, so we stayed a while to watch the bands from side of stage. First up, INGLORIOUS, who to be honest washed over me a little. I know there’s been a fair bit of hype about these guys, and to be fair their opening number The Who’s “Won’t Be Fooled Again” resonated around the arena well. There’s no doubt lead vocalist, Nathan James, is a naturally gregarious frontman, but they didn’t excite me.



INGLORIUS

Next up were the critically acclaimed DEAD DAISIES. I actually quite rate this band, and have witnessed some impressive performances by them at smaller venues over the past two years.

 

The band do have an impressive pedigree, and on this outing renowned axman Doug Aldrich coupled with John Corabi on vocal duties lead to a well-balanced delivery, but as with Inglorious, they just didn’t blow me away on this occasion. On the other hand different strokes for different folks from Mott the Dogs point of view the Dead Daisies were the first band to get the audience really up and rockin’. How can a band go wrong with a cover of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band Midnight Moses.

 

John Corabi is a truly excellent Front man and now seems to be over his atrocious treatment by Motley Crue. Doug Aldridge is one of Rock’n’Rolls Classic Guitarists, and with Brian Tichy on Drums you get your power. A cover of Creedance Clearwater Revivals Fortunate Son had the audience yelling their approval and by the time they cruised into last song Main line they had won the day. They had another gig to do at the other end of the Country that night so during Main Line the equipment was almost being taken away from them as they played. But it certainly did not affect their enthusiasm.


At this point we decided to take a walkabout, so didn’t catch TERROVISION’s performance other that at a distance. Unfortunately some of us did stick around for three songs from Terrorvision. I always thought an odd choice for the Classic Rock Stage. But to me they just didn’t fit in and quite frankly, we quickly scuttled back to the VIP Tent for free Beer where we could still hear Terror Vision droning on.
TERRORVISION

A quick meet up with the rest of the Pattaya Mail gang in the VIP area, meant we could plan our next moves and discuss who was going to see which bands throughout the rest of the day.


Kim and a few other team members decided to venture from the bar and take a look at GINGER WILDHEART, but myself and some buddies felt we needed to save ourselves for EUROPE.

But we battle hardened Rockers of the Pattaya Mails Rock team fought our way to the front for Ginger and his Wildhearts. Great set of burning Rock music, although having never seen Ginger perform live before I was hoping for some Classics from P.H.U.Q. and Earth vs. the Wildhearts (Top of the World being the only song I recognized). I’m not saying it was not a great set and given only 8 songs some sacrifices have to be made, but Caffeine Bomb, Sucker Punch, or I Wanna Go where the People go would have made this old man very happy.

GINGER AND HIS WILDHEARTS




A quick glance at Purson on the Prog stage who seemed adequate , but not nearly enough time to give a proper evaluation and then it was a mad dash down the front to join the Pattaya mail Gang led by Helen for the Mighty Europe.
PURSON

And so to the infamous Poster Boys of Classic Rock, EUROPE. Well, I’ll get the confessions out of the way first, as in my humble opinion, these guys can do no wrong. I’ve loved them from the very first gig I attended back in the 80’s, and have seen them way too many times to remember.

Joey Tempest is the epitome of a Frontman. From the moment he hits the spotlight, his melodramatic persona infects everyone around him. This performance was no exception, with Joey punching his way through the billowing Dry Ice, to the opening track “War of Kings”, his impossibly executed dramatic gyrations, accompanied by the classic white microphone stand, served to stir up an already excited audience.

Hit after hit came pouring out in perfect harmony, with just a little tongue in cheek banter breaking up the string of classic numbers. “Hole in My Pocket”, “Rock the Night”, the foot stomping “Last Look at Eden” (from their more noted heavier album of the same name). Followed by “Firebox”, “Superstitious”, “Scream of Anger”, “Sign of the Times”, and “Nothin’ to Ya”. Then the homeward run of real crowd pleasers. Starting with the instantly recognisable intro to “Cherokee”, “Days of Rock ‘n’ Roll” topped off with THE SONG….”The Final Countdown”.

There is absolutely no doubting the super-slick performance from the other long established band members, John Norum (guitars), Mic Michaeli (keyboards), John Leven (bass) and Ian Haugland (drums) make this band an unbeatable force to be reckoned with. Long may they continue.



It was then a quick dash up to the Prog Stage to see Uriah Heep. Mick Box has been at the forefront of Uriah Heep for 47 seven years and still appears to be enjoying his time in the Band as much as ever and in the Hard Rock Genre there are not many guitarists that even come close to him. Bernie Shaw is without doubt the best vocalist that the Heep have ever been lucky enough to bring into their ranks.

Phil Lanson is the perfect organist for Uriah Heep and a great foil for Mick Box. Since we last saw Uriah Heep in Thailand the back line has changed; Lee Kerslake retiring from the Drum Stool and the mighty Russell (Animal) Gilbrook taking over hitting the drums so hard the Drum tech was permanently on stage trying to keep the kit in one place and piece (Rock’n’Roll).

Sadly Trevor Bolder the longest ever lasting Heep Bassist has passed onto that great Gig in the sky and if Heep were to continue a new man to play the low notes had to be found. Well they found the right man. Davey Rimmer , a real Heavy Bassist with the necessary nimble fingers to play Heep’s more intricate songs.

How could things go wrong with the sun beating down, a large crowd gathered, and one of Bernie Shaw’s daughters on a relatives shoulder egging the crowd on. Well of course it did not. One of the many bands to be on peak form that day at Ramblin’ Man.

The Heep came on and gave a wonderful show.

They had handpicked a marvellous set. One from their very first album Very eavy, Very umble from 1970, one from their second Salisbury 1970, Two from Look At Yourself 1971, One from Demons and Wizards 1971, One from Magicians Birthday 1972 and One from Sweet Freedom in 1973 (Very prolific Bands in those days weren’t they - how many bands match 25% of that today). Even with this they still managed to fit in two of their songs from the Latest album 2014’s Outsider. The song One Minute from that album perhaps being the high light of the entire set. Another great triumph for The Heep.







Having taken steps to ensure I’d been down the front for Europe’s performance, I took a step back through the crowds to catch up with the gang again. We watched THIN LIZZY’s entire set from the comfort of the top floor of the VIP Bar. This outing was billed as part of the Anniversary Show Tour, so was probably the one of the few opportunities to see the current Thin Lizzy line-up for a while, or indeed Ever?

Again a great but predictable set from this epic band. Ricky Warwick doing an admirable job as Phil Lynotts stand in, they delivered all the classics from the entire Lizzy back catalogue. Starting with “Jailbreak”, “Are You Ready”, “Killer on the Loose”, the list goes on. Highlights and real crowd pullers on this evening were “The Boys Are Back In Town” and of course “Whiskey in the Jar”.

Scott Gorham may be getting on in years, but there was absolutely no sign of him tiring. This guy remains a true hero of the guitar world, and hopefully he’ll continue to perform live for many years to come. It was great to seeing this line up of Super Stars doing the songs of the greatly loved Phil Lynott.

Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith hammered the Bass parts to perfection and as I have never seen Aerosmith at least I have now seen at least a fifth of them. Scott Travis of Judas Priest brought a real feeling of Heavy Metal to proceedings whilst doing an excellent job.

Bringing on Midge Ure a temporary member of Thin Lizzy from 1979-1980 and was jokingly introduced to the Stage by Ricky Warwick as the worst guitarist to ever be in Thin Lizzy but he certainly added some punch to Cowboy Song and the Boys are Back in Town.


Sadly perhaps the open air at the end of the day for Family to headline the Prog Stage on Saturday night was badly planned. I did not stay long. But both band and Audience looked confused as to exactly what was going on.

Now we finally come to Headliners of the night, WHITESNAKE. Hopefully one of the rest of the Pattaya Mail Team will be submitting a review for this infamous Classic Rock Band? I’ll not go into too much detail, and maybe it was just me, but David Coverdale just didn’t seem to be on real form to me? Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of him and the band, and have had the chance to see them a few times in the last few years. It just seems to really be hit or miss from gig to gig, and tonight was not one of his best performances, sorry to say. To be put in a Nutshell Whitesnake were pretty dire, and certainly did not deserve to be Headliners.

David Coverdale if you read this your voice is shot and does not sound good. Whilst you still can, retire with what is left of your reputation intact. The Journey Man Back up back was exactly that. Loosely jamming their way through some Whitesnake Classic songs.

David Coverdale, who ultimately represents Whitesnake in their death throes, was only on Stage for half the show as first of all we got a Twenty Minute Guitar Noodle from Rob Beach who, let’s face it, only a couple of years ago was the rhythm Guitarist for Doug Aldritch who we had seen showing off his expertise with the Dead Daisies earlier in the day, followed by a slightly shorter one from Rob Beach’s Second Guitarist Joel Hoekstra!


Photo by Colin 'Mottman' Powell

We then had a ten minute Bass solo from Michael Dawn and finally a ten Minute drum Solo from Tommy Aldridge. In between these we got bits of Whitesnake songs. With Bands like Uriah Heep, Europe and Thin Lizzy on the Bill that day who could have easily filled the Classic Rock headlining spot, it seems to have been a waste to have this spent force closing the Saturday Night.

We were all back in the VIP Bar for a night-cap well before Whitesnake slithered off the stage and then retired to our respective sleeping quarters ready for another day of Rock ‘n Roll.

Friday/Saturday Overview by Helen Westby, Mott The Dog and Photos by Harpic Bryant.

Over to our fellow correspondent Cheryl, for the overview on Sunday’s offerings.

Sunday 24th July
Another early rise, not due to my buddies Helen, Vince or Dave, but to the snoring in the next tent (wish I had worn the earplugs from my VIP bag- but I’d already donated them to another sleep deprived soul). It looked like another sunny day ahead, shower taken – this time in the HOT SHOWER, bacon roll, hot coffee and we were ready for another full day of first class music.


We were in, early again, thanks to the VIP entrance. First stop - the VIP area, as watching all these bands proved really thirsty work?! Nicely refreshed, the Pattaya Mail Team were off in all directions. I for one wanted to watch THE GRAVELTONES, who were first on the Main Stage, Jimmy O and Mikey Sorbello, they may have been the smallest band at the Festival, but that didn’t stop them. The dynamic duo were like a pair of over excited kids bounding about the stage, their first track “forget about the trouble” got the crowd engaged, and from there on in, there was no stopping them.

Whilst the Kids from the Pattaya Mail team went off to the Classic Rock Stage, Those of us with slightly longer memories were off to see PAT MACMANUS play on the Blues Stage. Rick Bryant our acknowledged Blues/Rock expert had predicted a packed Marquee. He was right by the time the Trio hit the stage the Marquee was full. You could barely see Pat MacManus not because we were not near enough to the front, but because he had such a great big grin on his face that it was hard to see past that as the crowd reacted to every note he played and there were a lot of notes. Sometimes his hands were just a blur.

The Sun was out and with all the excitement in the Marquee the Temperatures were stifling, just like a good hot and sweaty club gig. (But in the middle of a field.) Although only given Six songs to perform everyone was a gem switching half way through to fiddle raising the Temperatures even more and the cheering was almost as loud as the Band (Terrific Drums and Bass supplied by Paul Faloon and Marty McDermott respectively.)

Perhaps the loudest cheer of the set went up when Pat spoke to the crowd saying that he grew up in a place called County Fermanagh, Ireland in between Gary Moore from Belfast and Rory Gallagher from Ballyshannon, County Donegal, he thought he stood no chance which got received with a roar of appreciation to our fallen Guitar Heroes, but also with laughter at the Irish wit. Pat then played a tribute to both Guitarists. By this time one of our young ladies was beginning to swoon we were not sure whether it was the site of Pat leaping about or the Heat. Anyway The Pat MacManus band did more than enough to claim the Top Spot next year on any of Ramblin’ Man ‘s Stages.


I then went off to find the troop’s, as we needed some nourishment, or at least that was what my tummy was telling me. There were many different food stalls; you could have sampled anything from ostrich burgers to pasta to vegetarian. But we were all headed to the PIE STALL. They weren’t your average pie; we had it on good authority. Our good friend Adrian had told us that these pies were the BEST; he knew this as he had tried them all. In fact, it was getting so bad, that they gave him a free one, and asked “is this the last time today???”


Bellies full, we were off again, a quick crafty pint or two, and off to look around the many stalls they had scattered around the fair. There was clothing, body and silver jewellery sunglasses, and even Harley-Davidson and the awesome Triumph stalls. The bikes on show were impressive, their chrome shone in the full sun, well worth a long slow wander round.

Meanwhile a few of the Pattaya Mail wise Progressive Rock Freaks went back to the Prog Rock stage for a first sighting of HEADSPACE. When we arrived the crowd were so sparse we were able to walk right up to the Security rail and watch our Photographer Harpic preparing for her duties in the allotted three song space. It surprised me that there was such a sparse crowd as although there were good bands on the Classic Rock Stage, Headspace does have a wonderful pedigree to draw on.

 

First up we have one of the best Progressive Rock Vocalists from Great Britain, Damian Wilson who has fronted Threshold among others as well as having a great voice is a great Front man/Rabble Rouser/ and Stage Diver Extraordinaire. Standing at the Back is none other than Adam Wakeman (Son of Rick) who is on a break from Black Sabbath duties. On Drums the incredible Adam Faulkner, on Lead Guitar the mercurial Pete Rinaldi , plus the very active Lee Pomeroy on bass.

 

The Trouble with Super Groups is they have to find space when they all have time off to record and play Live. They only had time for 6 songs, but as a lot of their songs on album are 15 minutes long., this was very well achieved. Half way through the set the crowd had grown to a very respectable size. They were the only Band I saw all weekend that were physically dragged off stage by security. Their albums are called I am Anonymous from 2012 and All That Fear is Gone from 2016. Check them out.



HEADSPACE


Cheryl, Helen and Vince had strolled over to the Rising Stage, giving the new up and coming bands a chance to show off their talents. STONE BROKEN and DIRTY THRILLS (what a good name) had already been on, and now it was CATS IN SPACE’s turn to play. They had gathered a good crowd around the stage, getting the audience attention right from the start. You could really see they were enjoying themselves (felines check them out- brilliant vocals, and good on the eye!!) We then quickly moved over to the Main Stage again, this time to see AIRBOURNE, although I’m not an avid fan, I did enjoy “Too much, Too Young, Too Fast”.


DIRTY THRILLS


Sadly (again) the old Stagers amongst us had to make a choice between the new comers Airbourne, or The Mighty Lords of Space Rock; HAWKWIND. Hawkwind won hands down so off we went to the Prog Rock stage and after an hour were mighty pleased we did. Like Uriah Heep the previous day Hawkwind were in prime form.

Basing their set around their Brand new album The Machine Stops, but including many classics from the past along the way.

It was wonderful to see Hawkwind Founder and Leader back on Lead Guitar chopping out those sharp angular riffs leaving the Keyboards to his Keyboard Navigator Tim Blake. Both of them not in the first flush of youth but you would not have known it from watching them as they constantly swapped sides of the stage to tease the Audience. The Rhythm section of Hawkwind is now made up of Long time drummer Richard Chadwick as tuned into the Hawkwind grove as ever and new comer Haz Wheaton who not only has more than a striking likeness to Lemmy, but also has a similar stage presence.

Out the Front is the impressively framed Mr Dibs who full fills the far out role in Hawkwind giving the vocals the right nuances switched between numerous instruments when vocal duties are not required. Altogether one of the best Hawkwind Line ups that I have ever seen, and that includes what many consider to be the Classic Line up from Hawkwind’s Space Ritual Tour way back in 1972 (Double album released in 1973). So although the set was still based around the new album we still got all the Festival Classics we wanted Spirit of the Age, Assault and Battery, The Golden Void a Rockin Shot Down In the Dark and finally, yes you guessed it, Silver Machine.

It was the first time I have seen Hawkwind in Sunshine, so we missed the usually spectacular light show, but to be honest that hardly made any difference to me. The thing I found most disturbing about this Hawkwind set was to see them all smiling and laughing and giggling during their time on stage. Most odd.


Helen and friend Dave had positioned themselves in the main arena with the ever increasing crowds, whereas Vince and Cheryl had perched themselves upstairs in the VIP area, giving them a bird’s eye view of the stage and big screens. This is what we had been waiting for, THUNDER, who had just come from a festival in Wales, to perform in the idyllic setting of MOTE PARK.

The evening was warm and the air still, everyone waiting for the appearance of Thunders frontman, Danny Bowes. He bounded on, more energy than any man half his age, the crowd applauded, eager to hear them sing. “Wonder days” was their first song, Vince was singing along, he knew the words as he and Helen had been massive fans of Thunder, for many years. They were brilliant to watch, the crowd interacting with them. Even the ladies waiting in the queue for the VIP area toilets couldn’t help but sing along. One particular lady embarrassing her partner, as she waved her hands in the air, singing at the top of her voice.

 

Thunder were the success of the day on the Classic Rock Stage, they really epitomize the ideal festival Band. Their New album Wonder Days shows there is plenty of life left in them.

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Then it was all back to the VIP tent to get in some last free complimentary Ramblin ‘Man Draught Beers before more choices. Three Headliners Black Stone Cherry, Procol Harem and Warren Haynes.

With Beer in Hand we wandered down to the Front to witness the Black Stone Cherry. I have listened to their albums, and somehow not really got them (in my opinion a poor man’s Lynyrd Skynyrd). After three songs (my limit) several of us had enough and left the hoards to their worship. If Black Stone Cherry are really to become a success they need some decent songs.

First we went to the Blues Stage to see Warren Haynes - when we got there it was only about 15% full and we soon found out why. Ramblin’ Man had employed a Lounge Act to close the Blues Stage. Yes sure Warren Haynes can play guitar, but why was he on stage with about seven other Musicians. I would rather see three musicians on stage playing hard rather than eight taking it easy. When they started playing another song and it took me five minutes to realize it was one of my favourite songs All Along the Watch Tower, it was time to leave.


Fortunately on the way to the VIP Beer Tent we passed the Prog Stage and heard PROCOL HARUM playing. Intrigued we wandered up to find a healthy crowd and a healthier Band. What a wonderful treat to finish the festival. Gary Brooker maybe 72 years old, but he still has more Stage Craft and Charisma rolled into one of his little fingers than half of the Bands on display over the two days. He may be the only original member of the Procol Harum carrying the Flag for the Band these days, but his comrades in arms have a very good pedigree too.

I first saw Geoff Whitehorn the lead guitarist for Procol Harum more than a decade ago in 1977 in a magnificent Band called Crawler and since then he has had an illustrious and well respected career as a Session Guitarist as well as playing in too many Bands to mention in one review.

Matt Pegg on Bass is the son of Dave Pegg Bassist for both Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention, both of which Matt has also played with.

Geoff Dunn is one of the most respected drummers in the world, rock solid with great versatility but perhaps the jewel in the Procol Box, is Josh Phillips on Keyboards. Quite honestly he could have been on stage by himself and been more than attention holding. Instead on this occasion he just held the whole thing together for the Procol’s adding Wizardly Keyboard flourishes where necessary.

What songs did we get??? It was a Headline festival set by a bunch of Professional Musicians who knew what their fans wanted. We got all the Hits - Salty Dog, Homberg and Grand Hotel. Then as an encore a remarkably heavy Conquistador and then one of the funniest events of the whole Fair, Gary Brooker teasing the crowd into the intro of final song Whiter Shade of Pale.

Superb. It was an honour to watch and hear.

PROCOL HARUM


The evening was a true success, the grand finale being BLACK STONE CHERRY who had said they were honoured to close RMF 2016. Everyone had had an awesome weekend, and we all wanted the evening to continue for as long as possible. The boys didn’t disappoint, they belted out their songs, “Me and Mary Jane”, “Rescue Me” and “White Trash Millionaire” to name but a few, an encore was a must. With this performance I’m sure they will be back next year.

This is of course one point of view that some of us felt at the end, that Thunder, Procol Harum or Hawkwind (in the dark so they could have used their impressive light show) might have been better closers.

We had ended the evening on a high, goodnight was exchanged to all, and we headed back to our tent for our last night in the great outdoors. RMF 2016 was phenomenal, I don’t think it was solely down to the fact the weather had been so perfect, it was also the outstanding bands that took part, the stalls, the fantastic crowd and the genuine “feel good” effect was all part of what made the fair AWESOME. A massive big THANK YOU to all the staff who worked over the weekend, they were always very polite and helpful. Can’t wait till 2017 !!!!!!!!


OTHER SUNDAY ACTS
WALTER TROUT

THE ANSWER
KENTUCKY HEAD HUNTERS

THE CADILLAC THREE
Sunday overview by Cheryl Frost/ Helen Westby/ Mott the Dog / Photos Harpic Bryant

EPILOGUE

This left those of us that were travelling home from the Pattaya Mail Rock team, on Tuesday by Airplane, one last day to enjoy ourselves. We did not waste it. We travelled up to Teddington, South London. Therefore avoiding, London Parking Charges, Congestion Charges and Tunnel Tariffs. Plus of course the horrors of one of us being nominated a ‘Delegated Driver ‘. We stayed in a wonderful Old Hotel called The Park at Teddington, from where we took a thirty minute train ride up to London, Waterloo from Teddington station a five minute walk with a train every 20 minutes. Then a brief Taxi journey to Langans Brasserie, Stratton Street for a splendid slap up Lunch, with London Socialites John Vinyard, Ray and Chris Jenkins, Richard and Maggie Waller plus Peter Bevis. Our Faith in British Hospitality was quickly restored after the Bad reception we got at the Botany Bay in Kingsgate. Helped by Mike Davey leaving a bottle of Mumm Champagne for us at the Table. Plus a very nice Cake from Langans itself for Kim's 60th birthday. (Calves Liver and Bacon, in Langans the best in the World).


The Park Hotel Teddington London

Langans Brasserie with the London Socialites

Kim's Surprise Hotel Guests

The Ramblin Man Pattaya Mail Press Team at home in Jameson's

After returning to Teddington we sat in a few lovely Pub beer gardens in preparations for our Flights back to our respective jobs the next day. British Airways were just as superb on the way back.

Until Next year.

 

MORE PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND BY STALKER MOTORHEAD MARK
A few self explanatory shots, Dirty Thrills playing in the VIP area and one of me with the lovely Rosalie......The Stalker in action...!
Jamie and Ben and just Jamie of City of Thieves, Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake from a distance.
Big Mikey Sorbello and Jimmy O, The Graveltones. Watched by the Brazendale family who are big fans and mates with the guys. Jack, Louis and Aaron.....The Dirty Thrills
EVEN MORE PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND BY COLIN 'MOTTMAN' POWELL

Mottman ready to Rock

Our Mistress of the Lens Harpic at work photographing Hawkwind

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