Steelhouse 2017 Simply Marvellous Mud Music and Mates
Steelhouse family came together on a Welsh Mountain united by rain, sun and MUD! The glue binding us was live music and the super glue the brilliance of Bernie Marsden not once, not twice but all three days on the stage entertaining. We had dragon magic gracing the festival that you climb up slowly to the top driving up a rough track to the top of a Welsh Mountain above Aberbeeg. The weather may at times be trying, we all know the welcome and cwtch from the Steelhouse volunteers will be full of warmth. So many memories for the music memory box, friends, brilliant bands Planet Rock DJs and the array of stalls to kept us fed and watered, the endless cuppa’s from Motley Brew hot and refreshing the gallons of Trooper consumed and the selection of cocktails. The festival is for everyone young and old, family friendly with a play area, camping, glamping and merchandise. We may only be in each other’s company for a few days but the friendships forged last forever.
Bluesdoodles, Liz Aiken could not make Friday night, rain, parking and other issues conspired against her. Nothing though was going to deter us from getting to the festival on Saturday that started warm and sunny with the weather for now set fair. We missed Free Friday, but those who got here in time were entertained with Revival, the awesome Hand of Dimes joined by Bernie Marsden already a festival favourite and Trucker Diablo.
The two bands that open the show were local bands, Saturday, Florence Black & Texas Flood on the final day all setting the bar high rocking the show for the first notes always a challenging slot and they got our attention. Then the new line-up from Tequila Mockingbyrd who flew the flag for women and rock Steelhouse know how to weave the line-up reflecting styles of rock and peoples different tastes.
So many thoughts whirl around as I edit the photographs, the excitement that the festival has left spilling over to Monday, continue to be motivated as the work continues listening to the music that fuelled the weekend, Steelhouse 2017 delivered the best line-up ever and it was a triumph. Music for all tastes across rock. There are always bands and for everyone the list will vary for us at Bluesdoodles it was Rival Sons, Last In Line, Monster Truck, Stone Broken, Broken Witt Rebels, Jared James Nichols, Wayward Sons, Saxon and the hero of the hour Bernie Marsden across the festival Friday, Saturday and the unplanned return on Sunday. The list is a mix of styles, ages and experience the common link was quality, performances.
Stone Broken bought a vitality, energy and love of performance to the stage, heating up the atmosphere. The set was played out with every note played and song sung confirming the meteoric rise from a self-funded album to the band they are today. The journey has just begun they will soon be headliners wherever they play, why the crowds will demand it the Broken Army will not be silenced. With a follow-up album to debut All In Time tantilisingly close live performance will keep us entertained until the release date early 2018. Every fan is waiting in anticipation which will just build and build, with every performance and radio play. Stone Broken play the music rock fans want to hear. Every time they play live they grow in stature tighter, more confident. Everyone’s day is brightened by Robyn’s infectious smile and drumming. Rich leading from the front energised with vocals that demand to be listened to. Chris & Kieran, guitar and bass creating the sting in the tail with the strings ensuring there is nothing broken about Stone Broken. They nailed it at Steelhouse 2017.
Monster Truck, were monstrously good, the guitar sound is loud and we are pulled into the hot atmosphere they create. It was so hot it was as if the rain vapourised before it hit the ground! Awesome sums up the performance lifting the crowd’s mood into the stratosphere. The set included all the numbers you want to hear live from Sittin’ Heavy as we heard staggering vocals, hard rhythm and licks that curl around the stage and cascade across the field in melodic delights. There will be other bands but for now it doesn’t get better than this performance or will I eat my words?
Having never heard Last in Line live, this was a band I was looking forward to having listened to Heavy Crown, loud and often since reviewing early in 2016. The band named after Dio’s second album carried the torch shining high and burning bright with a set that was full of Dio classics. The two orginal members of Dio’s band Vinny Appice on Drums and guitarist Vivian Campbell are joined by vocalist Andrew Freeman, Phil Soussan on Bass an keys from Erik Norlander. They delivered adrenalin fuelled rock that pounded the mud and the sound that was Dio. Andrew’s vocals were reminiscent of Ronnie James Dio. The rain did not wash away the sound and atmosphere of a festival that was now rocking as the skies darkened on the Saturday.
Sunday dawned bright and clear with blues skies and warm sunshine we all knew the music was going to be hot. The Sunday came alive as Broken Witt Rebels may have opened with Low from Georgia Pines but the music took us to new highs. Danny Core’s vocals are outstanding they pierce with a depth of emotion. The feel of the guitar sound tinged with blue, heated by southern rock from James Tranters lead guitar. The sound builds with tambourine and rhythm added by Danny and a rhythm section that burns the groove as Luke Davis and James Dudley join forces. This is a young band who are growing in stature as with every performance the layers of polish are burnished, the beat tightens and the sound gets bigger, bolder as the Broken Witt Rebels blow the mist away through Georgia Pines, what a number. They were quickly followed by the guitar-led blues-rocking power trio of Jared James Nichols. The talent of the guitarist who is making a name for himself as he flashes his prowess with the six-strings, this set was the most guitar-dominated set of the weekend. Another young performer who never fails to deliver, always improving developing the Nichols tone and sound. Building on his album and the last EP Highway Man.
A new band, Wayward Sons that has every one talking. Why? It is a Toby Jepson band this, the bands third gig and first festival appearance, did not disappoint. The opening was intriguing as we entered the Twilight Zone before the opening line of Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas and then the band stepped on stage. With a debut album out in August, Ghosts Of Yet To Come the sound we heard was grittier this is a rocky sound that sets quivers of an earthquake erupting through the audience on top of a mountain. As to be expected Toby’s vocal shone through the rain drops With the Little Angels – Young Gods – song dedicated to Alan Nimmo, who to many people’s disappointment was not swirling his kilt with King King on a mountain. The whole Steelhouse family wish Alan a speedy recovery.
Rival Sons, well worth the wait in the mud and rain they delivered with music that sears the heart and soul. Jay Buchanan’s voice is always stunning as he strode down the stage in rolled down wellies he captivated – what a band. The only slide guitar of the weekend cascading notes swirled across the mountain courtesy of the slide of Scott Holiday. The rhythm and structure added a depth of tone thanks to David Beste and Michael Miley. There is nothing hollow in the bones of the rock they deliver every track has something to say with sweet licks, righteous riffs and lyrics that draw you deep into the heart of the music Rival Sons are simply electric.
Closing the festival with lights, pyrotechnics and a metal eagle Saxon left their mark on the mountain once again. A band that the fans wanted to see many so excited seeing a band that was one of the first bands they had seen back at Steelhouse once again. The rain did not deter Biff as he strode down the runway kneeling on a towel and rising again hands aloft uniting with the fans as he sang in the rain. The festival went wild as Biff sung to them Battering Ram soared out across the mountain quickly joined by many classics Princess Of The Night & 747 Strangers In The Night. By now there were no strangers in the crowd, we were united by music, mud and Steelhouse friendship.
Cometh the hour cometh the man. Steelhouse 2017 it had to be the one and only Bernie Marsden. Scheduled to play with Hand of Dimes of Friday and the acoustic set on Saturday that was a delight. With King King having to pull out there was a yawning gap. Hand of Dimes stepped in with Bernie on electric guitar that was exciting but this was the Steelhouse Band with two special Planet Rock guests. Hand of Dimes always popular and they know how to please as they add keys and harmonica to Nev’s special brand of rock. Nev was back on stage with Bernie Marsden joining after a couple of Hand of Dimes numbers to massive cheers of Bernie, Bernie!! Hand of Dimes has a new album out Raise so we heard Guilty and Pin-Stripped Arrogance, what a band. Then we had the change as Ian Danter took control of the drums and Darren Redick on Bass for a couple of numbers this is what festival magic is all about memories never to be repeated. The ‘cover’ of Whitesnake classic Here I Go Again was superb vocals from Neville McDonald took the roof of if there was one! Bottom of Form
The heroic Steelhouse Band created a great atmosphere what fun a pleasure for everyone listening to Hand of Dimes and friends over the Bernie weekend.
Then if I could only pick a band it would be a toss-up between Rival Sons and Broken Witt Rebels both were superb the vocals stunning, out I have made the rule only one band so it will be Rival sons, why? Soul made me cry as I was absorbed by the music an even stopped photographing during Electric Man.
Steelhouse 2017 raised the bar in terms of music and fun we are counting down the days until Steelhouse 2018. Thanks once again to the band of volunteers and Mikey and Max who make sure we all have a wonderful Mountain top festival.
Steelhouse 2018 the clock is ticking ! show your interest and keep to-date on Facebook Event
July 27th – July 29th 2018