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  STEELHOUSE RFESTIVAL
The Welsh International Classic Rock Festival
Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th July 2014


John Oakley

john oakley



steelhouse festival

Its the fourth edition of the Steelhouse Festival, situated atop a mountain in Hafod y Dafal Farm, Aberbeeg, South Wales, a stone's throw from Ebbw Vale and some of the valley's excellent rock venues in Crumlin, Pontypool and Cardiff. There's a welcome on this hillside and the boyos like their singing.

It's the third year I've made the trip from England, over the bridge and up the mountain and I have much love for the place, its community atmosphere, the ability to set up a cool camp with BBQs, a real ale bar with few queues, free showers and access to bands wandering around. It's proper tidy!

As long as it doesn't rain, but fortunately for us this year this Welsh mountain seems to be the only place in the UK that escaped the apocalyptic thunder storms! PHEW!

Article continues below...



So, arriving Friday night and setting up we get treated to an un-billed surprise act. It's local boy and old Skin frontman Neville McDonald with Hand Of Dimes. He's a great warm up with his new material and throws in an old Skin cover, 'House Of Love', plus 'Burlesque' by Family for good measure.

steelhouse festival

Day One

After being treated to a Black Star Riders soundcheck of 'Kingdom Of The Lost' and 'All Hells Breaking Loose', showing the quality to come and provide a soundtrack to the lunchtime BBQ, Black Wolf then kick off proceedings proper.

Black Wolf have a trad 70s sound and image reminiscent of the Black Crowes meets Airbourne! They have a new album coming out and a good sound and groove. The standout for me is their excellent audience interaction - they go down well with the Led Zep loving classic rock audience.

steelhouse festival

Skarlett Riot pick up the pace with their adrenaline and won't back down in a hurry. They have a great young blonde/black haired singer in the style of Leah Duors of McQueen, and maybe a slight nod to Avril Riot grrl. They prove well worth a listen and tight as hell and Skarlett's powerful voice has plenty of charm.

They are supporting a new album, 'Tear Me Down'. The standout track for me is 'Broken Wings', a soulful ballad that tugs deep. Only criticism is that despite Skarlett's awesome stage presence the rest of the band look they are missing sixth form to be here! Either way, you'll be seeing a lot more of this lot as they have the Edguy tour support slot amongst other things.

Buffalo Summer, popular local Welsh lads, receive a great reaction and absolutely love being here. In 'Down To The River' up the mountain they get everyone clapping, tidy! T-shirt support for them is very strong today!

  steelhouse festival

Darren Reddick of Planet Rock fame introduces favourites of the station Tax The Heat, who, besuited, ply their polished but rather safe trade. But the sun came out so we sat in the sun and the bands played on! Although I did overhear someone comment that they could be listening to Dire Straits!

The Graveltones provide a 50s rockabilly style soundtrack to firing up the afternoon BBQs, as the mountain warms up for the evening's main acts.

A real highlight for me next, The Amorettes stood in for a delayed Electric Boys and delivered an old school Girlschool-esque set. Hailing from Scotland, these ladies are on the rise. 'Heartbreaker' rocks most awesomely, with vocal stylings that Kim McAuliffe would be proud of. Also the bassist's moves are pure tributes to the late Kelly Johnson.

The talent and confidence on display is awesome. With a new album coming soon, 'Son Of A Gun' was debuted and sounded rocking! Obviously rushed but excited to be promoted on the bill, they deliver perhaps the most energetic performance of the day so far. Sets at Bloodstock and the new album in the pipleline and these ladies are on the way! You can read my interview with Gill from the Amorettes here.

So next up, Sebastian Bach hit the stage, with pretty much the same set as his Sonisphere and Islington Academy sets. Whilst highly enjoyable, and with some 'dedicated' fans who seem to be doing impressions of schoolgirls watching One Direction, his punishing tour schedule was obviously taking its toll, as was having the wrong conditioner for his hair.

It was the last European date before heading home for him and tempers were frayed with security and photographers in the pit. Whilst mostly his awesome presence, and all the old Skid Row hits you wanted to hear, carried the day, it was definitely a bad hair day for Bazza, but our anthem for all the Youth still rang true.

steelhouse festival

Thin Lizzy supergroup, the Black Star Riders are tonight's headline act. They've been putting in the mileage recently and if you've still yet to see them, you are in for a treat. From the now familiar Tombstone theme "I'm coming, and Hells coming with me", all hell breaks loose on the mountain.

They storm the stage. Ricky Warwick has taken the role on and is using his awesome Irish brogue to good effect. Seeing BSR a week later in the Wacken Experimental Tent, Ricky is sporting a dodgy Phil Lynott style tache. He is loving the legacy that he is well and truly delivering on.

steelhouse festival

'Before The War' in the set seems apt with craziness of the current climate in Israel and Ukraine. It's an awesome Thin Lizzy love in, where Scott Gorham is fully marshalling his hired guns into a tight and amazing band now. Thin Lizzy classic tracks such as 'Jailbreak' and 'Emerald' sit smoothly alongside tracks from the Black Star Riders album, which are by now classics in their own right.

There is plenty of Whisky in these jars as the coyotes call for all the 'Cowboys' in the audience. This really is Thin Lizzy 2014, and they are still bound for glory, and more yet. Great show, and the perfect headliners. And I still can't believe they were on such a small stage at Wacken.

steelhouse festival

Day Two

Sunday overall is a lot more mellow. The Electric Boys hit the stage after a 15 hour nightmare journey ordeal from Sweden. They're here to celebrate their new album and are well received: Cony's whiskey soaked husky vocals and Ian Astbury style stance leads singing alongs for 'Rags To Riches'. Fellow Swedes Europe watch from the wings.

As a frontman, he has great interaction and to the crowd's delight Cony announces a UK tour with Bad Touch in September. 'Lips And Hips' remind us of the dance floor filler of rock discos past. Watch this space.

Buck and Evans have jazz and Janis Joplin stylings; the singer's voice is lovely, but allows for a sunbathing break. As one of the festival organisers, she's earned the right to play, but to be honest this is all more suitable for 3.00am comedown music. They would be the perfect band for Tonight With Jools Holland.

Bad Touch proved they were more than the Led Zep tribute act I'd seen them as last, in a pub in London town supporting Bonefide, and that they're developing their own repertoire. They have a lot of ego and self belief, silly merch, their own minibus, and the singer won many a heart this afternoon. They even camped in the main camping area amongst the fans.

steelhouse festival

Heaven And Earth, the Rainbow supergroup, suffered from a rare rain shower interval but the dedicated fan followed with interest, even though some complained about the lack of songs about wizards.

After a support slot with Seb Bach, and much Planet Rock support, double world superbike champion and motorcycle racing hero Toseland went down well with the biker community and was living the dream of being lead singer of a band. In style, he's reminiscent of Gun. Catchy tunes like the semi biographic track 'Renegade' and a cover of Costello's 'Pump It Up' accentuate the afternoon.

Old Skool Whitesnake maestro Bernie Marsden played the blues, and hit the long dark teatime of the Sunday evening soul. A defibrillator might have been handy to pump some energy into the proceedings.

Anal Love in the Heart of the City (sic) finally breaths some life into blues pub rock, but is punctuated by tedious anecdotes at such a slow beat. Sometimes I'm sure the worms in the grass are asleep. At last! "'ere's a song for ya!"... yes, we are woken from our slumber by 'Fool For Your Loving' which rocks like a mad thing in the evening Welsh sun.

'Here I Go Again', featured on his new album with the old Cov, and apparently number one on Amazon pre-orders, finishes his set off in fine style. After a dull start, the self styled fat old geezer still shows his class with a Whitesnake flourish.

steelhouse festival

The Answer return two years after dominating an excellent fest, and are rewarded by a second billing slot. A blues jam which floats fluidly through the afternoon, in haphazard fashion. Whether it is down to endless solos or "preaching" it seems more of a Cormack love in, than another epic set.

The crowd share the predominantly Celtic pride, and welcome the boys in the afternoon sun. 'Memphis Waters' seem far away from a Welsh hillside, but there's a New Direction in town tonight.

steelhouse festival

Europe close the festival, in an efficient, yet dull manner. Relying on recent hits, rather than the glory days of 'The Final Countdown' and 'Prisoners In Paradise' era, they've styled themselves into a more mature but less fun band.

It's more 'Girl From The Lebanon', and 'Superstitious', than 'Danger On The Tracks' and 'Cherokee' but you know, as with everything Swedish, it's honed to look marvellous and sounds marvellous... but where is the soul I wonder? Do we forget our wilder days to play to our now older bank manager rock audience?

Solos from guitar maestro John Norum, and stories growing up in Stockholm listening to British rock, are interesting but they fail to hit the heights of Black Star Riders the night before.

steelhouse festival

The Steelhouse Festival closes for another year, and for three years running it hasn't disappointed me. It's certainly expanding year on year, and the quality is going from strength to strength.

If you want to try out a new festival, where you are not walking for hours between your tent and the stage, and you've not got security nazis making up new cooking rules every year, and excellent bands, and new talent, give it a try! It is excellent value and very reasonably priced too.


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6.8.14










 

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second relation SECOND RELATION PREMIERE TITLE TRACK OF FORTHCOMING THIRD ALBUM 'ENO'
Austrian prog rockers Second Relation's new single and video is premiering today and it's got Europe in a buzz...

amorettes THE AMORETTES ANNOUNCE SECOND LONDON SHOW ON CO-HEADLINE TOUR
"Our show at Our Black Heart in London has sold out in ten days, which is fantastic! How quickly could this one sell out?"

thunder THUNDER PLAN TO GIVE THE GAME AWAY WITH A NEW BOOK
The band plan to launch the book at an event being held as part of the 'Louder Than Words' literary festival in Manchester on Saturday 12th November.

rudolf schenker SCHENKERS AT WAR: RUDOLF BREAKS HIS SILENCE ON MICHAEL'S ACCUSATIONS
"He's a trick master, and he's a wannabe. And that's it. He can do whatever he wants..."

jon oliva SAVATAGE MAINMAN JON OLIVA RECOVERING FROM STROKE
"I lived the rock n' roll lifestyle since I was 18. It's all I knew and I enjoyed the ride very much..."

ramblin man RAMBLIN' MAN FAIR 2017 DATES ANNOUNCED PLUS WHO WE THINK COULD HEADLINE NEXT YEAR
After what was probably the best rockin' weekend of the year so far, we didn't have to wait long before we could start planning for the 2017 rematch...

airbourne AIRBOURNE ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER HEADLINE UK TOUR
The band will play ten UK date beginning in Portsmouth and Norwich on November 17th and finish off with two nights at The Electric Ballroom in Camden, London...

black stone cherry BLACK STONE CHERRY ANNOUNCE UK TOUR
"We have never done anything like this before and we knew the UK was the only place to do it. That's all we're gonna say about it!"

gary rossington LYNYRD SKYNYRD UPDATE WITH MORE CANCELLATIONS DUE TO GARY ROSSINGTON ILLNESS
"Currently the band hopes to resume touring on Thursday 4th August at The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands..."

extreme EXTREME CELEBRATE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF 'PORNOGRAFFITI' ALBUM WITH 'PORNOGRAFFITI LIVE 25/METAL MELTDOWN'
"Some of these songs were never played live before so we had to go back and relearn them for the tour."

ozzy osbourne OZZY OSBOURNE: "I'M NOT HAPPY BEING SOBER"
"It scares me. I hear all the time people say that they have another drink in them but they may not have another sobriety in them..."

paul rodgers IT'S NOT ALL RIGHT NOW! PAUL RODGERS SUES DONALD TRUMP
"We will make America great again. God bless you and good night, I love you."

heavy metal HEAVY METAL HELPS PEOPLE DEAL WITH MORTALITY ACCORDING TO OFFICIAL STUDY
"Metal music can be seen as cultural good for fans and thereby can form part of their social identity."

motorhead MOTÖRHEAD STILL RUNNING DOWN THE HIGHWAY: PHIL, MIKKEY AND EDDIE ALL GEARED UP FOR FORTHCOMING DATES
"Every snare hit I do from now on until the end of my career will be a small tribute to Lemmy..."

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN'S STEVE HARRIS DROPS THE PRICE OF HIS ESSEX MANSION BY £1MILLION
The eight-bedroom mansion was on the market for £6.75million in 2012 but it's "guide price" is now a mere £3.95million...

hrh aor ALL GUNS BLAZING FOR NEW HRH AOR 5 ANNOUNCEMENT
Phil Lewis & Tracii Guns unite under the L.A. Guns banner once again for next year's HRH AOR 5 being held next March at Camp HRH in North Wales...

deep purple DEEP PURPLE 'LIVE AT THE NEC' DVD ON THE WAY: FAREWELL JON, WELCOME DON
The two share keyboard duties during the night in a very fitting "passing-of-the-torch" moment...

status quo ROCK 'TIL YOU DROP WITH STATUS QUO 1981-1986 VINYL BOX SET
In addition to the studio albums the box set will include an extra disc of b-sides and extended mixes...

zz top ZZ TOP TO RELEASE THEIR VERY FIRST OFFICIAL LIVE ALBUM IN SEPTEMBER
"In an abstract surrealism style, this collection is a definitive chronicle of the band hangin' together for four plus deluxe decades..."

tygers of pan tang TYGERS OF PAN TANG "SPECIAL TIME" HAS COME WITH NEW RELEASE
"The new Tygers album is finished, done and dusted and ready to unleash on our 'Tygertastic' audience. You're gonna love this one, it's a MONSTER..."

andy fraser ANDY FRASER OF FREE'S LAST RECORDING WITH SAIICHI SUGIYAMA ONLINE HERE
"'Melting Away' became one of Andy's last recordings. He still had so much to offer and I was really looking forward to continuing to work with him."

ritchie blackmore RITCHIE BLACKMORE'S RAINBOW TO PLAY AGAIN BUT WITH LESS DEEP PURPLE SONGS
"I would do probably ninety-five percent Rainbow songs; that's what they seem to want to hear. And it didn't occur to me. I just naturally assumed they wanted to hear everything."

saxon EXCLUSIVE: THIS IS WHAT OUR FAVOURITE ROCKERS THINK OF THE CURRENT POLITICAL CLIMATE
Comment from Saxon, Slash, Thunder, Iron Maiden, Uli Jon Roth, Hawkwind, Cher, Johnny Rotten, Machine Head And More...

beyond the black UK EXCLUSIVE: BEYOND THE BLACK SINGER JENNIFER HABEN IS LOST IN FOREVER AS FIVE MEMBERS DEPART THE BAND
"I have enjoyed the time together with the guys very much and am grateful for everything we have achieved together in Germany. I am currently looking for new colleagues..."

cats in space CATS IN SPACE SET TO RELEASE SLADE CLASSIC WITH DANNY BOWES OF THUNDER ON GUEST VOCALS
"It's is one of my favourite Slade songs, so when they asked me to sing on their version it took me a good second and a half to say yes..."

guns n roses WAS BREAKING NEWS: GUNS N' ROSES ADD MORE TOUR DATES FOR OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER
The Gunners' newly announced dates are for South America with ten dates in Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Colombia with more to be announced soon...

keith moon YOU WON'T GET FOOLED WITH OFFICIAL KEITH MOON COMMEMORATIVE DRUM HEAD
Manufactured as a special, custom product by Remo, these 14" high-gloss drum heads are a perfect collector's item for true fans of the legendary drummer and The Who...

the answer WAS BREAKING NEWS: THE ANSWER AND THE DEAD DAISIES ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER UK TOUR
"The fact that we get to debut this new material with our mates The Dead Daisies just adds to the rush we're currently experiencing. You really don't want to miss this one!"

ian gillan IAN GILLAN SAYS: "IT'S A WONDERFUL THING, VINYL..." WITH NEW COLLECTION ABOUT TO BE RELEASED
"You just bought something significant, not easily disposable. And look at the sleeves - aren't they cool..."

quireboys THE QUIREBOYS NEW ALBUM ON THE WAY: "THE LYRICS ON THE TITLE TRACK ARE SOME OF SPIKE'S BEST EVER!"
"I approached the songwriting from a different angle and it felt good. There's a lot of passion there."

48 hours 48 HOURS TO ROCK THE UK TO A CITY OF ASHES
"We're hitting the road in September for a co-headline tour with our broseph's City Of Ashes! This will be one of the unsigned tours of the year!"

hammerfall WAS BREAKING NEWS: LIVE LIFE LOUD WITH HAMMERFALL ON 2017 EUROPEAN TOUR: NEW ALBUM ON THE WAY
"We can't wait to get back on stage again to have a gigantic Heavy Metal party every night with all our Templar friends!"

joe perry AEROSMITH GUITARIST JOE PERRY REPORTEDLY SUFFERS HEART ATTACK DURING HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES GIG
"Thanks to everyone asking about our brother Joe Perry," Alice Cooper wrote. "He is stable right now, with family and is under the best care."

onslaught ONSLAUGHT, BEHOLDER AND ANIHILATED TOUR PROMISES TO BE A TOUR DE FORCE
"By the time we hit the road in November it will be well over two-and-a-half years since we did the last run and we feel the time is now right..."

arw ARW (JON ANDERSON, TREVOR RABIN AND RICK WAKEMAN) ANNOUNCE BAND FOR UPCOMING WORLD TOUR
"I have played with arguably the three greatest bass players ever and I can't wait to play with one of them again!"

marillion MARILLION UNVEIL 'THE NEW KINGS' FROM FORTHCOMING STUDIO ALBUM 'FEAR'
'The New Kings' can also be heard on Marillion's current tour which starts on Monday 11th July in Barcelona...

michael des barres AN AMERICAN WRITER ASKS WHY IT TAKES A BRITISH EX-PAT TO ASK, "WHAT'S GOING ON?" MICHAEL DES BARRES HAS THE ANSWER
This incendiary cover of Marvin Gaye's classic confronts America's issues in an incredibly timely and head-on manner...

freedom call FREEDOM CALL RELEASE A NEW METAL HYMN 'HAMMER OF THE GODS', AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD NOW
The trademark bold vocal harmonies remain. The track is taken from forthcoming opus 'Master Of Light'...

guns n roses STEVEN ADLER JOINS GUNS N' ROSES ON STAGE IN OHIO: FOUR FIFTHS OF 'APPETITE' LINE-UP PLAY TOGETHER FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1990
"On the drums, you might know this guy. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Steven Adler..."

ac dc AC/DC BASSIST CLIFF WILLIAMS TO RETIRE AFTER ROCK OR BUST WORLD TOUR: "IT'S BEEN SURREAL"
"AC/DC has been... you know, just... I don't know what else I would wanna do. I love the music and I love playing in the band, and I'm all filled up..."

guns n roses GUNS N' ROSES USE THEIR ILLUSION TO SILENCE THE DOUBTERS WITH US TOUR GOING SO FINE
Axl is clearly in his element on this tour, running across the stage to jump on the monitors mid-song and displaying all the panache of a man completely on top of his game...

stray del bromham STRAY TO ROAM AROUND THE UK ON TOUR INCLUDING A RARE REUNION OF THE ORIGINAL LINE-UP
No need to move a mountain as both Stray and Del Bromham's Blues Devils are on their way to a venue near you...

amorettes THE AMORETTES ANNOY THE NEIGHBOURS WITH RAUCOUS NEW SINGLE
'Let The Neighbours Call The Cops' was co- written by vocalist Gill Montgomery and Black Star Riders front man Ricky Warwick...

eagles of death metal WAS BREAKING NEWS: EAGLES OF DEATH METAL WANT YOU SO BAD ON TWO UK DATES IN AUGUST
This is EODM's first visit to the UK since the band were caught up in the terrible events at The Bataclan Theatre in Paris back in November 2015...

soil SOiL 'SHINE ON' THE UK WITH COMPREHENSIVE TOUR
"We are looking forward to seeing some new places and making some new friends this time around..."

acid reign ACID REIGN GET IN FESTIVE MOOD EARLY WITH SPECIAL GIG ANNOUNCEMENT
'Tis the season to Thrash as Acid Reign team up with Shrapnel with far from obnoxious results...

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN: LEGACY OF THE BEAST MOBILE RPG GAME IS OUT NOW
"We've always wanted to make a quality Maiden mobile game as we think the combination of Eddie and the music is so well suited..."

rick parfitt status quo EXCLUSIVE: STATUS QUO'S RICK PARFITT SEEMS TO BE 'FINE FINE FINE' AS HE IS SPOTTED OUT AND ABOUT
Following the recent health scare a picture has emerged online of him taking a walk in Kingston over the weekend...

bullet for my valentine BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE TO PLAY 'THE POISON' IN FULL FOR THE FIRST EVER TIME
"We promised you something special right? See 'The Poison' played in full for the first time in Manchester! Tickets on sale now here..."

alter bridge WAS BREAKING NEWS: ALTER BRIDGE TO HEADLINE ARENAS ACROSS EUROPE THIS WINTER WITH GOJIRA AND VOLBEAT
This will be their biggest headline tour yet with twenty-four dates across fifteen countries, kicking off on November 4th 2016

the mission WAS BREAKING NEWS: BAUHAUS FRONTMAN PETER MURPHY TO GUEST WITH THE MISSION ON THEIR 30th ANNIVERSARY UK TOUR
"Peter's appearance will help make these shows the special events that we always wanted and hoped they'd be..."

iron maiden IRON MAIDEN ILLUSTRATOR DESIGNS SHIRT FOR ONE DIRECTION'S ZAYN MALIK, MAIDEN LAUNCH THIRD TROOPER BEER AND HI-ON-MAIDEN TO HEADLINE PICCSTOCK
A full-bodied beer using a blend of chocolate and crystal malts to give "a roasted malt and caramel backbone with hints of liquorice and honey"...

bruce dickinson BRUCE DICKINSON TO TAKE PART IN TOP GEAR STYLE CHARITY ROAD TRIP
"The enthusiasm from the group is amazing which will lend itself to making it an unforgettable trip..."

anvil WAS BREAKING NEWS: ANVIL ANNOUNCE UK AND EUROPEAN TOUR FOR OCTOBER/NOVEMBER
Anvil will not only be playing dates in Scotland and Wales but also English towns which rarely see major international artists, such as Huddersfield, Doncaster and Grimsby.

status quo IT'S TIME TO GET 'DOWN DOWN' TO BUTLINS AS SECOND STATUS QUO FAN CLUB CONVENTION IS ANNOUNCED
The weekend will feature live music from ex-Quo drummer John Coghlan and his band with long time friend of the band, Jackie Lynton also scheduled to appear...

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