Grand Slam at The Ramblin' Man Fair, Maidstone, Kent.
Grand Slam at The Ramblin’ Man Fair, Maidstone, Kent.
By Paul Davies.
Before modern science asserted its rationality on what was considered the unexplained and the supernatural, the rare occurrence of comets and shooting stars in the sky were attributed to a cosmic sign from the gods and a miraculous portent of both hope and fear.
As most would wish to believe in hope triumphing over fear, such a sign was thought to herald in a new era and a time for adventure and new discoveries.
Spooling forward many, many centuries later to the Ramblin’ Man Rising Stage - which has enabled a large number of ‘new bands’ to navigate their own journey’s on the musical map towards stardom - a long-awaited returning comet of a band finally landed with an almighty thud upon this year’s ‘Rising Stage’.
As incongruous as it might seem, given the irresistible heritage of this band, Grand Slam finally burst through their finely embroidered veil of mystique to reveal a stellar set of songs from their much talked about forthcoming album during this abridged headlining show.
With a large and expectant crowd creating a buzz louder than a meadow full of beehives, original guitarist Laurence Archer slammed out the riff to back in the day Lynott, Archer and Stanway song ‘Nineteen’; as this band of musical grandees fell into line note for note.
Then wafting out over this field of dreams came new song ‘Gone Are The Days’, being the first single from their much anticipated impending album ‘Hit The Ground’.
Picking up the baton from Archer’s and Lynott’s original iteration, there is a lovingly curated sound which, whilst being a homage to Lynott’s musical lineage, has enough individuality to stand alone and be judged on its own inimitable merits.
Scouse singer Mike Dyer brought his own warm and honeyed vocal tones to original Grand Slam and Gary Moore recorded anthem ‘Military Man’.
Explaining how his life changed from the moment he met Phil Lynott at the hallowed Liverpool Empire, Dyer dedicated this song to all the heroes who serve in the armed forces. With Archer forcefully backed up by drummer Benjy Reid, the band detonated an incendiary arsenal of bombastic noise to leave this anthem tattooed on the aural receptors of the collected brains in this starry space.
The ‘hive mentality’ of this field of ‘Slammers’ rejoiced and resounded as one as ‘Dedication’ drew those gathered down the front into a head-banging, fist-pumping frenzy.
Locking down the bottom end with a fistful of banging notes, David Boyce has the throwback persona of ‘the one that got away’ from The Faces. Or any of the choicest of 80s Sunset Strip monster metal bands.
Both Boyce and Benjy not only add the essential weighty ballast to keep this heavy rock sound afloat, they also interplay with infectious fun as evidenced on new album title song ‘Hit The Ground’; Benjy doing the hitting as Boycie weighs in with deep and nifty fretwork.
Arguably saving the best to last, Archer and Dyer excelled on ‘Sisters Of Mercy’.
In fact, the whole band pushed themselves to the limits keeping that early buzz-building louder and louder as the days count down to one of the most highly anticipated long overdue album releases that, on this live evidence, should prove to be a huge slam-dunking belter.
Photography by Andy Rawll.
New album due out November 2019.