STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL – Ebbw Vale, Wales – Day 1, Friday 23rd July

Mark Warburton (review)

Pippa Maunder-Warburton (photos)

All I can is thank the heavens above we are back to our beloved gigging at our 2nd Steelhouse Festival for ROCK-ZONE UK, which proved to another memorable one in many ways. Starting off with still one of the world’s worst road’s I have ever driven on, and this time we did come up in our new land rover, to get up to the top of the mountain, that is home to the highest festival in the UK. Thankfully, we reached the top without any drama and were welcomed by friendly, helpful staff who worked tirelessly over the entire weekend at this wonderful festival.

So here we go & with Pippa taking her spot in photo pit, Staffordshire’s the Howling Tides kick the weekend off in great style with their brand of classic Rock with a modern twist, and get the crowd going from the off. To be fair I had not heard much of their music till today but was suitably impressed by their professionalism, and boy these guys can play a bit. Steelhouse again benefitted from a great stage sound throughout the weekend, and the four-piece duly lapped up the applause from the rowdy and appreciative crowd.


Next up were Matt Mitchell and the Coldhearts, who we saw last at Ramblin Man Fair 2-3 years ago, and they delivered another polished set. Matt who I’ve seen play live several times fronting the great AOR band PRIDE, made all the right moves and you can see he has been around the block. Although today, Matt Michell and the Coldhearts just did not really do it for me, all quality musicians but a just a bit music by numbers for me.

King Creature were the first band of the weekend to really impress me, and again not having heard much of their music previously. Frontman/Bass player Dave Kellaway is an absolute natural and great leader from the front, he reminded me a bit of thrash legend Tom Araya from SLAYER!!! The band also featured a top-notch guitar player in Matt Vincent and drummer Mike Stennett and worked tirelessly through their short but enjoyable set.

The entertaining Raveneye were next band on stage, featuring Oli Brown on vocals/guitar, Michael Blackwell on bass and Adam Breeze on Drums, a band who we have several times before as both a support act and on festival slots. The heavy blues rock infused set goes down well with the ever-growing crowd on top of the mountain, which Oli Brown absolutely laps up and takes in his stride.

Special guests The Quireboys just never grow old and look the bloody same as they did the first time, I saw them live back in 1988, supporting the magnificent Cinderella on their Long Cold Winter tour. Spike just makes the smile and always looks half cut every time I have seen the band live over the past 33 years, an absolute consummate performer, and a rock n roll version of Rod Stewart. Its just one big party from the off with the 4000+ strong crowd having a ball. I have always loved this band, and as I’m dancing to the likes of ‘Mona Lisa Smile’, ‘There She Goes Again’ and the brilliant ‘Hey You’, I can see my wife Pippa also dancing in the photo pit, just brilliant. In a touching moment of this fun filled set, Spike passes his red flower, he always wears in his lapel to a young fan in the crowd, saying it came from Poundland!! The Quireboys were One of the bands of the weekend for me and always deliver.

Finally, we get to see Headliners Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons, who raise a big cheer as they wander onto the stage to play a high octane fuelled set which of course includes some of the Motorhead classics for good measure. ‘Highway Star’ gets this up-tempo set going, with the band now featuring, Andrew Hunt, on vocals from the band Buffalo Summer. We are treated to the Motorhead tunes, ‘Born to Raise Hell’ and ‘Going To Brazil’.

The Hawkwind classic ‘Silver Machine’ which was played as a tribute to the members of Motorhead who are no longer with us, is just brilliant. Which brings us to final tunes, the iconic rock anthem, ‘The Ace of Spades’ which got the packed crowd going mental, with some headbanging and moshing, and my all-time favourite Motorhead Tune ‘Killed By Death’ brings this brilliant set to a close.

So as the hardened festival goers carried on drinking into the night, we made the precarious journey back down the mountain for our short trip back home.

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