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Underworld, London


Soldier (pic by Ivan Finestress Planas)

The British Steel Festival is a successful celebration of the glory days of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement (NWOBHM). Now in it's sixth year, the festival gives a chance for the lesser known successful bands from that period a chance to perform rare gigs in the capital to a faithful crowd of all ages who travel the length of the country.

The festival also attracts a large following from abroad. There are many large groups of fans here this weekend from Spain, Germany and Italy, to name just a few.

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Having worked in the morning, I made the mistake of having a long hot bath and nodded off whilst listening to the football on Radio 5 which meant by the time I got my backside into gear and travelled to the Underworld, Heavy Metal Records legends Soldier were just finishing performing their last number, the classic 'Sheralee', a single which I bought as a 14-year-old in a special triple pack along with the Handsome Beasts' 'Sweeties' and Shiva's 'Rock Lives On'. Yes, this was the kind of conversation everyone was lovingly having all weekend.

I was gutted I missed them, but many took pleasure in telling me what I missed... Bugger... Oh well... Roll on Hard Rock Hell where I will get a second chance to see them.


Another band I've never seen before were Weapon, forever immortalised on the back of Motorhead's 'No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith' album as they were the support band on the 'Aces Up Your Sleeve' tour.

Opening with a raunchy 'Ride The Mariah', guitarist Jeff Summers was clearly enjoying being a rock star again. Fronted by the loveable Irish rogue Danny Hynes who announced that they have finally written some new material some thirty years after they started with an impressive 'Ready 4 U'.

It was the double A-Side single most folks were waiting to hear and 'It's A Mad Mad World' was great before finishing a couple songs early with 'Set The Stage Alight'.


I then bumped into a lubricated Tino Troy of Praying Mantis who was looking dapper in his black velvet jacket as we shared many a giggle and a laugh.

Gaskin were a band I never really listened to back in the day but what a surprise they proved to be and were the band of the night in my opinion. Fronted by guitarist/vocalist Paul Gaskin the band were full of tight hooks and melody. 'Sweet Dream Maker' was the opener and most definitely a cut above the rest. Even a new song in 'The Contract' was great with a thumping bass line.

'Come Back To Me' was in danger of walking in the shadow of the blues Whitesnake style but 'I'm No Fool' was fantastic, a favourite of Metallica's Lars Ul... no, fuck it, I'm not going to mention his love of NWOBHM... we were all there too and we all are just as important, if not more so, for keeping it alive.

Elixir played here last year, no doubt due to guitarist Phil Denton's involvement in the British Steel Festival and gawd bless him for that. Last year they played the classic 'Sons Of Odin' in full and this year they went for a few more tracks from the reformation album 'The Idol'.


Elixir are a powerful tight Metallic outfit and should please all fans of Iron Maiden, especially in some of their instrumental passages. 'Deal With With Devil' segued nicely into a fitting tribute to Ronnie James Dio with 'Man On The Silver Mountain'. The trooper of 'Treachery' is a headbanger's dream. Another great set.

I had reservations about Gunslinger and before was half tempted to sneak off home early as Gunslinger weren't exactly NWOBHM but I'm sure glad I stuck around. Bassist/vocalist Alan Davey started Gunslinger back in '79 before going on to join Hawkwind from 1984 to 2007. In that time he took some advice and tips from none other than Lemmy of Motorhead and that's exactly who Gunslinger sound like.

Some may say the Slinger are nothing but a tribute band but after seeing them live this is almost the real thing. Davey grunts and groans whilst holding the Rickenbacker the same way the Lemmy does... yes folks, this is how it's meant to sound.


A colossal band with young blood in guitarist Louis his nephew and female drummer Cat who really has a Philthy sound. Titles such as 'If The Bombs Don't Get Ya, The Bullets Will' and 'Blitzkrieg Baby' tell you what you need to know, even new single 'Lessons In Logic' was brain damaging. This is how Motorhead sounded in their classic days. A great band.

Once again the British Steel Festival was a roaring success. They may have been competing with Electric Wizard who were playing up the road tonight but those who were here knew who had the best night out.

Once again I made many new friends from home and abroad, it's got that friendly vibe about it and long may it continue. See you next year 'Bangers... Oh yes - Suzie Smiled.



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