Steelhouse Festival, Saturday review
Posted by: robaich ()
Date: July 30, 2013 08:23AM


Situated on top of a mountain just outside Ebbw Vale, the Steelhouse Festival is surely situated in one of the most picturesque settings for any festival in the UK or beyond? It is held at Hafan-Y-Dafal Farm which can only be accessed via a dusty and very bumpy two and a half mile climb up an old logging track. Be assured though, the trek up the rough terrain is well worth it as the Steelhouse has to be one of the friendliest and good natured festivals in existence. This, it’s third year, might possibly be the wettest yet but none of the punters seemed to care about that. Roll on next’s the review.


As I arrive, the Dead Shed Jokers are tearing through their set and as forecast, the rain began to fall. This mad me head for the beer tent to seek solace from the downpour.

Next up were Hand Of Dimes, the band that has reunited ex Kooga members Nev Macdonald (ex Skin) and Neil Garland for the first time in well over 25 years. Their sole release to date, the 4 track EP “Hand Of Dimes” was played in its entirety along with a couple of new tracks and they went down a treat with their fellow South Wales fans and those of us from further afield. Nev’s vocals were superb as always and with their brand of blues rock, the 2014 to be released album will make fans of the previous mentioned bands and
fans of classic blues driven rock very happy indeed.

Fighting Wolves aren’t my thing, so it was off in search of much needed nourishment for me.

The Temperance Movement are fast becoming more than just “that” band on Planet Rock with “that” song. They politely take to the stage but this was not an indication of what was to follow. Their hour long set was crammed full of rootsy rock goodness which included the whole of their excellent “Pride” EP and a handful of new tracks from their forthcoming self titled debut album out in September. Frontman, Phil Campbell is the quintessential frontman, he’s got the voice and the moves to capture the audience’s attention and keep them mesmerized until the very end. His Jagger/Cocker/Robinson moves a sight to behold. Naturally, “that song” (Only Friend) got the loudest cheer of the set. Hell they even took off on an Allman Brothers Band trip in the mioddle of one of the new tracks which left me happily noodle out. Wonderful stuff.

Next it was Anvil. What can I say about Lips & Co.? I was curious to see how they would come across live and judging by the crowd crammed down the front, I wasn’t the only one. But, if truth be told, my attention wained after 15 minutes or so. Stripped, once again, down to a three piece, their brand of straight ahead heavy metal just didn’t cut it for me. Granted, they were going at it hammer and err...anvil but would they have drawn so much attention if it wasn’t for the documentary from a few years back? Maybe they would but my belly was once again rumbling and the lure of a venison burger was far more appealing than Lips’ on stage banter of “shit, there’s too much technology these days, stick your USB up your ass...i’m still a smoke weed and peace loving guy”. Saying that, I did enjoy “Metal On Metal” and new track “Bad Ass Rock & Roll”...unfortunately, just not my thing.

The next band on stage certainly were my bag though. FM, have always been a favourite of mine, since their debut back in ’86. I had the pleasure of watching them with renowned rock journalist, Dave Ling, a fellow Gov’t Mule fan and a lengthy discussion about the new album was held prior to FM’s set. Always excellent live and Saturday was no different. Picking tracks from their vast back catalogue, FM were a delight as always. Steve Overland’s voice is still superb and the addition of Jim Kirkpatrick on lead guitar a few years ago has raised the bar even higher. A set crammed full of fan favourites like “Bad Luck” “Don’t Stop” etc. Mixed with a few choice cuts off their excellent 2013 release “Rockville” had the crowd, especially us middle aged blokes, eating out the palms of their hands. I think their beefier live sound surprised a few and they left the stagewith many a new convert...glorious stuff.

And so...Saxon. Saturday’s headliners had promised a lot and they didn’t disappoint. For the first time in 20 years, they had brought the eagle lighting rig back to the UK and it was a joy to behold. Couple this with enough pyrotechnics to rival any Rammstein gig and a drum riser that sent Nigel Glocker way up to the heavens for his solo, how could they go wrong? Biff was his usual charming comedic self with tales of the early days in Ebbw Vale meeting girls with their “Rather large err families”. “I’d gladly sing this in Welsh for you but I don’t fookin’ know i’ll do it in Saxon” and “If you’re getting wet, so am I” as he lept into the crowd for a “Whoa whoa whoa whoa ahh” singalong. Classic after classic was belted out “747”,” Strong Arm Of The Law”,” Dallas 1PM”,” And The Band Played On”, “Heavy Metal Thunder”, “Wheels Of Steel” and a return for an encore of “Crusader”, “Denim & Leather” and “Princess Of The Night”, how could we not leave the field happy.

The gig was also filmed for a future documentary out next March/April, according to the camera guy who happened to be staying in the same real ale pub as we were. A great way to end a fabulous first day...did it rain all day? The eagle has well and truly landed!!

Photos and Sunday review tomorrow...:)


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Steelhouse Festival, Saturday review1337 robaich 07/30/2013 08:23AM
Re: Steelhouse Festival, Saturday review 317 Big Al 07/31/2013 01:08AM

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