Picture the scene: it’s a very cold afternoon in Kent, the rain is absolutely lashing down, and a crowd covered in pac-a-macs has assembled in front of the Prog Stage at the first ever Ramblin’ Man Fair. Weird prog/fusion ensemble Knifeworld have already started to create a buzz online and for some hardened proggers, the band’s early set time has been reason enough to leave their hotel rooms before lunch and brave the near apocalyptic weather.
When FM appeared at the first Ramblin’ Man Fair in 2015, they played an excellent set. Despite a low down billing on the main stage, they played with the professionalism and intensity of a headline act. Apparently, their London show on the 2022 ‘Thirteen’ tour – featuring Grand Slam in support – was similarly strong, so it was always likely fans on the Kent coast could surely rely on a typically enthusiastic set at the tour’s end.
The beginning of September 2022 has been horrible. The British government has all but fallen apart, bumbling from day to day; energy prices have reached a new level of unaffordable, and the corner of Kent where the Music Hall sits, proudly but unassumingly in a seaside back street, has been battered by apocalyptic weather for what now feels like an eternity. The summer has started to feel like a distant memory. On top of that, The Queen has died. For most people – monarchists or otherwise – this has more than added to an escalating feeling of unease. Most people have no knowledge of a world without Queen Elizabath II on the throne, and somewhat predictably, the internet has quickly descended into factions, either mourning or gloating. It’s fair to say that a distraction is in order.
Tonight’s show from Martin & Eliza Carthy at Ramsgate Music Hall is the distraction we all need, but this show from the father and daughter folk duo has felt a long time coming. Originally scheduled for November 2021, it got postponed until March ’22 and then cancelled. Just as most people started to think it would never happen, it was then re-announced, and almost a year down the line – not before time – the Carthys are set to put in a most welcome appearance on a drab Thursday night.
It’s barely seven months since Electric Six last visited the Kent coast. In November 2021, the Detroit legends packed out the tiny Music Hall in Ramsgate, and tonight it’s the turn of its slightly larger cousin, the Booking Hall in Dover, to play host to the ever quirky Dick Valentine and his assorted friends. Unsurprisingly, the show is a sell out. Unbelievably, the band have attracted a few people in the audience who are seeing the Electric Six bonanza for the very first time. Using the Ramsgate show as a benchmark, whether a casual observer or died in the wool fan, everyone is in for a genuine treat.
It’s 8:30 on a Friday night and Venus Grrrls have just taken to the stage at Ramsgate Music Hall. The Leeds band are unknown to most of the audience, but it’s great to witness the venue already packed to the rafters. If this were a London gig, most of the paying crowd would still be in a nearby pub, or standing in the venue bar talking, and paying the musicians very little attention. The seaside crowd are often more thoughtful and, looking at the gathering tonight, this is no exception. It actually feels even more crowded than when Electric Six and Red Snapper played at the small venue at the end of 2021. At a time when people are still concerned about Coronavirus, or the cost of living has made casual nights out difficult for many, it’s a sight that really restores hope.