Now that the stage had been warmed up,  the Bridgend based ‘Those Damn Crows’ gave it a good thrashing. We saw them at Clwb Ifor Bach earlier in the year supporting The Treatment and were impressed by their energy. They write and perform great songs and tonight was no exception. We will make every effort to see these guys again.


It was lovely to see them over the rest of the weekend as they stayed to support other bands playing, and enjoying the festival itself.



Those Damn Crows
Shane Greenhall - Vocals
Ian "Shiner" Thomas - Guitar
Lloyd Wood - Bass
Ronnie Huxford - Drums
David Winchurch - Guitar

Saturday morning, true to the weather forecast was warm, dry and sunny. The band with the honour of opening the festival was the Wigan based Bigfoot. Although this band was new to us, we’d heard great things about them. All true. They were brilliant. With tracks that built to a rock climax, the early crowd were disappointed when they performed ‘The Other Side of Paradise’ to finish and they left the stage to a thunderous applause. Their appearance at Steelhouse will certainly have increased their fan base, and we are looking forward to catching them again.


Bigfoot
Ant Ellis - Vocals
Sam Millar Guitar
Mick McCullagh - Guitar
Matt Avery - Bass
Tom Aspinall - Drums

Gig Pigs Wales go to Steelhouse

We went to Steelhouse for the first time in 2015, enjoyed it so much that we decided we would return in 2016. Hopefully, the weather would be kinder!


The festival is held on the top of a mountain, close to Ebbw Vale in South Wales.  Yes, a Mountain... not a hill! Getting up there is interesting, especially in a camper van, but it is well worth it. It is a small, friendly single stage festival and is run by a great bunch of people who somehow manage to put on a fantastic weekend of rock music which is affordable to everyone. With plenty of space for camping and live-in vehicles, it is a great way to start the school summer holidays.


This year (and again in 2017) Steelehouse coincides with Ramblin' Man - A much bigger, multistage festival in Kent. Although some see this as a disadvantage, it means that many bands who want to fully occupy themselves over a weekend can play at both. We think this is great for South Wales music. 



The Music

For the second year, the Friday stage was occupied by Welsh bands. The first band to test out the equipment was  the Valleys band ‘Everyday Heroes’. They had been the well deserved winners of the ‘Battle of the Bands’ evening at Fuel Rock Club a few weeks ago. 

If they were in any way apprehensive about appearing on a large stage, in front of an expectant audience, they did well to hide it, with a lively set of original hard rock. Luke on Vocals has an engaging way with the crowd and gave a great performance. We think Everyday Heroes are a band to keep an eye on. 

Everyday Heroes:
Luke Phillips - Lead Vocals/Lead Guitar
Jay Haines - Drums/B.Vocals
Daniel Richards - Guitar/B.Vocals
Lewis Watkins - Bass/B.Vocals

The Dead Daisies
John Corabi - Vocals

Doug Aldrich - Guitar
Marco Mendoza - Bass
David Lowy - Guitar
Brian Tichy - Drums

As the evening drew in, The Answer took to the stage. They are a high energy Irish band with an entertaining style. They performed many tracks from their debut album ‘Rise’ to mark its 10th anniversary. 

The Answer
Cormac Neeson - Lead vocals

Paul Mahon - Guitar

Micky Waters - Bass
James Heatley - Drums

Vega
Nick Workman - Vocals 
Tom Martin - Bass 
Daniel Chantrey - Drums 
James Martin - Keyboards 
Marcus Thurston - Guitar
Michael Kew - Guitar

The Dead Daisies were up next. They are a band who, if you get the chance, need to be seen live. The band want to show that old fashioned rock and roll is well and truly alive and are worthy of a headline set at any festival. By the time the arrived on the mountain, they had already done two festivals the previous day. The rain was back, but they gave us a fantastic performance with only Brian Tichy (Drums) not coming out onto the from of the stage. With Doug Aldrich (guitar) and Marco Mendoza (Bass) working the fans John Corabi (vocals) entertained us with his humour and the whole band joined in banter. The set list meant that all the band members could show off their talent and the enormous crowd welcomed the chance to join in with their catchy lines and well known covers.


The Dead Daisies were on tour in the UK and did 4 gigs supported by Inglorious.


With the sun still shining, Steelhouse welcomed the Finnish Prog band ‘Von Hertzen Brothers. Their music is complex, and engaging. They performed tracks from some of their older albums as well as newer music.

Von Hertzen Brothers
Kie von Hertzen - guitars, backing vocals
Mikko von Hertzen -vocals, guitar
Jonne von Hertzen - bass guitar, backing vocals
Mikko Kaakkuriniemi - drums
Juha Kuoppala - keyboards

After Thunder finished, Fuel Rock Club hosted a Rock Disco to keep the party going while the beer tent did a good business until revellers sloped off to their various sleeping arrangments. By the time we woke on Sunday, the weather had stopped being nice.  We woke to drizzly rain and the distinct feeling that the clouds were so low they touched the top of the mountain. We could hear someone doing soundchecks and the smell of cooking bacon wafted across the field.


After a typical camper van breakfast, and a good laze around, we went to the main arena. We heard the first couple of bands from the comfort of the beer tent, so the first band we watched was Toseland. Having seen them a few times before, we knew what to expect, and we weren’t disappointed. James Toseland wasn’t afraid to use the whole stage, and didn’t mind getting a bit wet. He engaged the crowd - particularly the younger members of the rain dampened audience. Sadly, they were cut short, but with a set list including ‘Too Close to Call’ and ‘Puppet on a Chain’, from their album 'Cradle the Rage' they were a joy to watch. 

Friday headliners were Buffalo Summer, who were making their third successive appearance on the Mountain. Andrew on Vocals delivers his lines with ease, and is rarely caught standing still on stage. Darren is a confident and talented bass player,  with a way of engaging the audience and seems to have acquired his own ‘Hat Tech’ who retrieved and replaced the trademark cap as his head banging launched it across the stage.


If they ever forgot the words to ‘Down to the River’, they would have had plenty of help from the audience! Buffalo Summer are a band who usually plan and deliver their set - the crowd yelling ‘more, more, more’ when they finished was clearly unexpected as they had a short conference to decide what else they could perform for the crowd who would quite happily have stayed and watched them all night. they were straight off the stage and into the crowd, meeting, chatting and signing the variety of memorabilia they were presented with.  We love this young band and the talent they have.

Buffalo Summer
Andrew Hunt  - Vocals
Jonny Williams - Guitar, Backing vocals
Darren King - Bass, Backing vocals
Gareth Hunt - Drums

The Saturday night headliner was Thunder. They performed their set flawlessly as we all expected. They are a polished, professional band with huge experience and Danny is one of the best front men out there. He says that he wants the fans to go home as exhausted as him and he controls the crowd to do his bidding telling us - ‘Clap! - we clapped. ‘Wave! - we waved. Sing! - we sang between and during the carefully selected songs.  I’m sure if he told the crowd to strip off, we would have done so. We sang - oh - how we sang. From Wonder Days to Dirty Love we helped him out as he danced around the stage the way only Danny can do. He has a hip wiggle to rival anyone and the five of them are a lean rock machine. Steelhouse could not have picked a better headliner.

Thunder
Danny Bowes - Vocals
Luke Morley - Guitar
Harry James - Drums
Chris Childs - Bass
Ben Matthews - Keyboards, Guitar

The Sunday night headliner was The Darkness. Musically, they are talented and have an engaging way with a crowd. They performed a 90 minute set consisting of many of their best known songs from their extensive back catalogue. Justin's humour is not to everyones taste - be prepared for purile banter often seen in a school playground, including ‘armpit farting’.


The Darkness
Justin Hawkins - Vocals, Guitar
Dan Hawkins - Guitar
Frankie Poullain - Bass
Rufus Taylor - Drums


As a festival, Steelhouse is the friendliest I have ever been to. The crew work hard to make sure everyone has a great time. The welsh weather is always an unknown factor, but so long as you are prepared for hot, cold, wet and dry, you’ll be grand.


See you up the Mountain in 2017!

The next band that we watched was Vega. Fresh from their tour supporting Magnum, we were expecting great things from this melodic rock band. Performing tracks including ‘Every Little Monster’ and ‘White Flag’ from their fantastic CD ‘Who We Are’, the sun baked festival goers were not shy in showing their appreciation. This is a band who have the talent to influence the future of rock.

With a space at the barrier, we stayed to watch the blues rock band ‘Tax the Heat’. Always perfectly decked out in suits, we did wonder how they would deal with the heat that had built up. The jackets were gone, but the whole band were still neatly turned out. The powerful set was heavy on drumming, even including a short drum solo. The popularity is well deserved for a band who clearly love what they do, and are on our ‘must see again’ list.

Tax the Heat
Alex Veale - Guitar, Vocals
Jack Taylor - Drums
Antonio Angotti - Bass
J.P. Jacyshyn - Guitar

Gig Pigs Wales

Raveneye
Oli Brown - Vocals, Guitar

Aaron Spiers - Bass

Kev Hickman - Drums

Toseland was followed by Raveneye. We’d missed a chance to see this Power Rock 3-piece at Download so we were glad to catch them here. The rain had eased off and they quickly settled into their set. Performing a selection of tracks including ‘Hey Hey Yeah’ - which included the obligatory sing along - they played to their strengths. The bass drum doubled up as a podium for Oli Brown, the lead singer, and both the bass guitarist, Aaron Spiers and drummer, Kev Hickman, left their positions and the stage to build excitement in the audience with a theatrical performance

Toseland

James Toseland - Vocals, Keyboard

Zurab Melua - Guitar

Ed Bramford - Guitar

Roger Davis - Bass

Joe Yoshida - Drums