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Ramblin' Man Fair with Kris Barras and The Darkness in Mote Park, Maidstone

By Angela Cole

It's now five years since I first wrote the story for the Kent Messenger saying that a new music festival would be pitching up in Mote Park in Maidstone.

It sounded interesting, and had a great name, the Ramblin' Man Fair, and the line-up was good. But who then would have predicted it would become such a mecca for rock fans every summer, many coming from across Europe, to pitch their tents and stay for three nights of heavy rock?

It's all about the music, for organisers and festivalgoers and the line-ups have had some huge names. This year's opening night had one stage - the second will be unleashed today - with acts including The Lazys, Kris Barras and headliners The Darkness.

Young and old rock out at Ramblin Mas Fair Picture: Chris White
Young and old rock out at Ramblin Mas Fair Picture: Chris White

As things started to get going, former cage fighter Kris Barras took to the stage to show those assembled why he's been asked back three years in a row.

The Lazys had kicked things off, and The Wildhearts played a rocking set and gave it their all as the rain started to fall, though no-one seemed to mind.

The Lazys at Ramblin Man Fair Picture: Chris White
The Lazys at Ramblin Man Fair Picture: Chris White

When The Darkness took to the stage, everyone was ready to rock - of the thousands there, few did not opt to get as close to the stage as possible.

The Darkness frontman Justin Hawkins was every bit the showman. His vocals were almost eye wateringly high in places, and his guitar-playing was impressive. But it was the way he owned the stage that was the most impressive.

Music fans gather at Ramblin' Man Fair 2019 Picture: Chris White
Music fans gather at Ramblin' Man Fair 2019 Picture: Chris White

He told the crowd things like: "We made our first album in 1992... and we're still making them. You lot just don't buy them any more," and "I say unto you, thank for a great evening."

It was obvious that their biggest hit I Believe In a Thing Called Love would be the biggest hit of the night, though Friday Night was a close second, and some of their material in the middle of the set didn't appeal to me, but for showmanship, entertainment value and pure energy, they made the night.

The Darkness at Ramblin Man Fair Picture: Chris White
The Darkness at Ramblin Man Fair Picture: Chris White

With eight minutes to go Justin told us that he was going to "eek out" the final song, so we'd all go home feeling that the last song had made a real impression, but no-one could have predicted quite how he'd eek it out. Leaping into the crowd, he rode triumphantly on the shoulders of an audience member into the crowd, still guitar very much in hand.

It was a show stealing moment.

Justin Hawkins of The Darkness Picture: Chris White
Justin Hawkins of The Darkness Picture: Chris White

Did it matter that it rained? Not really. Did it matter that I knew less than half the songs The Darkness played? Not really. Did it matter that I was there, along with the thousands of others, enjoying the moment, which was topped off by fireworks at the end? Hell, yes!

Justin Hawkins of The Darkness Picture: Chris White
Justin Hawkins of The Darkness Picture: Chris White

* Today's line-up includes American hard rockers Black Stone Cherry for a third year running, Cheap Trick and Ugly Kid Joe. Sunday will see acts including Aussie rockers Airbourne with rock legends Foreigner headlining. To book tickets and see the full line-up go to ramblinmanfair.com

Read our review of Saturday at Ramblin' Man here.

To find out what’s going on in the county and for all the latest entertainment news click here.

The crowd ready to rock at Ramblin Man Fair Picture: Chris White
The crowd ready to rock at Ramblin Man Fair Picture: Chris White

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