Mark Warburton (review)
Pippa Maunder-Warburton (photos)
On to the final day and another short trip from home, back up the mountain, had brought out the sun again, that we had on the Friday.
So, opening the Sunday, were another unknown band to Pippa & Myself Empyre, and what a great start to the day, they were. Vocalist Henrik Steenholdt has a monster of a voice, and sounded like a combination of Scott Stapp from Creed, and Leigh Kakaty from POP EVIL. The band were super tight on stage and featured some great guitar work from Did Coles and delivered some great tunes in ‘Too Close’, ‘You Know My Name’ and the just amazing ‘New Republic. This is what I love about festivals is finding out about great new bands, and what a brilliant start to the day.
Up Next are probably my favourite new band, the wonderful COLLATERAL, who I have championed from the start, since we saw them play a brilliant set on the Rising Stage at Ramblin Man Fair two years ago. Unfortunately, Covid cruelly denied the band a major tour slot and a chance at potential stardom, but now they had the chance to play to the biggest crowd of their career, and they did not disappoint one bit, with an added keyboard player, which has enhanced the 80s melodic rock sound, this band are the real deal. They remind me of a cross between TYKETTO and early BON JOVI with Mr BIG type guitars, and in Angelo Tristan they have one best new frontman around. The brilliant ‘Mr Big Shot’ featuring stellar guitars from Todd Winger, who is the devil spawn of Paul Gilbert & Steve Stevens, to the country/bon jovi-esque ‘Midnight Queen’, which feature great vocals and a super catchy chorus. The superb & Planet Rock favourite ‘Merry Go Round’, with its amazing drums from Ben Atkinson & super solo again from Todd Winger to my personal favourite, the melodic rock beast of a tune, ‘Lullaby’. COLLATERAL were unbelievably good today, and for me deserve to play big stages in front of big crowds, are one of the shining lights for the future of rock n roll.
Mason Hill had a reasonable size crowd at the start of their set but had easily increased by the time their set finished. This is a band that has the Modern hard edge, rock catchy riffs and arena ready choruses like Black Stone Cherry & Shinedown have. From the melodic “Now You See Me”, to the wonderful “Out of Reach”, and the brilliant “Where I Belong” with its stunning guitar solo by James Bird, the tempo is continually changing. Frontman Scott Taylor is a great vocalist, and delivers each track to the full, with a great backing band to boot, which entailed in a great set that kept the crowd entertained throughout.
Up next, the Toby Jepson fronted Wayward Sons, who delivered another quality and polished set, featuring great vocals on ‘Don’t Wanna Go’ and ‘Even up the Score’, to the excellent ‘Long Line of Pretenders’ and crowd favourite ‘ Jokes On You’, provide another highlight to this wonderful weekend up the mountain.
Stone Broken, yes, they sound like Nickelback, which isn’t such a bad thing in my eyes, and offer up super friendly radio rock of the highest order which is delivered by superb musicianship and quality vocals. Tracks like ‘Worth Fighting For’ are a real crowd pleaser, with the Broken army singing every word to every song, and with their stage performance tight and measured. For me there are no doubts that this band are on the fast-track rise to mega stardom, and it will not be long before you see Stone Broken, headline arenas.
My love for WHITESNAKE and Bernie Marsden goes back over 40 years, so I was so looking forward to his set today. Bernie had ex SKIN & HAND OF DIMES vocalist Nev Macdonald on vocals to take us down memory lane and some of those wonderful Whitesnake tunes that I grew up with. ‘Aint No Love in The Heart of The City’ was just amazing with the 4000 crowd singing to every word. Bernie is still a consummate performer and these tunes covered today were one of the highlights of the weekend for us both.
The Wildhearts delivered a great energetic set, with Ginger and the boys on top form, running around the stage and doing what they do best for the appreciative packed crowd. Again, not really my type of band, but with catchy tunes like ‘I wanna go where the people Go’ and Sucker punch, their enthusiasm won me over. Together with the anthems ‘TV Tan’ and ‘Caffeine Bomb’ Steelhouse 2021 went wild and set us up nicely for the headline band.
So, onto the final band of this great weekend, and Rock stalwarts URIAH HEEP who commence their high octane and polished set with ‘ Grazed By Heaven’, and you wouldn’t think the band have been going 50 years would you? With founding guitarist Mick Box leading the charge and long-time vocalist Bernie Shaw, Phil Lanzon on keyboards, Russell Gilbrook on Drums and Davey Rimmer on bass deliver a great performance to the packed crowd. ‘Living The Dream’ blends in well with 70s classics such as ‘Gypsy’ ‘Look at Yourself ‘and Rainbow Demon’, together with the brilliant ‘July Morning’ and ‘ Lady In Black’. The set absolutely flies before URIAH HEEP showcase the bands most famous tune, 70s classic rocker ‘Easy Livin’ that sends the crowd home happy.
In my opinion, Steelhouse is a great value Rock festival, with great people and great staff, its well organised, so what’s not to like, here’s to 2022.