As the ooohs and aaahs of the fireworks display die down, marking the end of another great festival weekend, it’s time to walk back to the car and ruminate over the week ends events. This year, the main one has to be that the weather gods had spared us the usual rainstorms of yesteryear. Having previously stood on the mountain as tents, sheep and red shoes whipped across the biblical skies, it was nice to bath in the generous sunshine in shorts, T-shirt and a generous smearing of factor 30, well for part of the weekend anyway.
Kicking off on the Friday, they allowed the ‘living vehicles’ in the night before, there was, by the time I got up the ‘mountain’, already quite a queue. Its 10 am for god’s sake don’t people work around here. Anyone who has been up that ‘mountain’ will realise it’s not the best of ‘goat’ trails, so waiting for the gates to open, and you’re parked on the main incline, it can be a fraught time. Luckily, I’m on the top section beyond the tight hair pin.
Getting in and getting parked up was simple, the volunteers are skilled in telling you which part of an empty field to park in. For some, being offered a huge area presents them with such a challenge that they inevitably make a mess off, and destroy people’s OCD of nice neat straight lines. No such bother today as the young girl gets your full attention and you do exactly as she commands.
With the first band not due on until 15:00hrs, I venture into the land of tin tents to find a couple of colleagues, to chat to and to break bread with. A mistake, having seen them sat about soaking up the ray’s double extra medium has become triple extra medium as it crisps and crackles in the mid-day sun. Having taken the mick, as you do, I venture forth and as I’m wearing a silver wrist band with ‘PHOTO’ written on it, I get in slightly before the site is ready. Keeping out of the way I head for the guest tent as its out of the sun. my back is already soaked with carrying my small camera bag.
The stage is impressive this year, a much larger affair which also seems a tad taller too. Gone is any chance of getting a shot of the set lists. It never ceases to amaze that the guys have to bring everything up that goat trail from the valley below. It truly deserves a shout out as the girls and boys have performed a marvel of engineering in what they do year on year.
The brainchild of Max and Mikey, they have constantly delivered a great family friendly festival since it began back in 2011. Over the years they have brought the best in local and international talent, up the goat trail, to entertain at the UK’s highest music festival. This ‘best value’ festival has seen the likes of Thin Lizzy, Thunder, UFO, Europe, Saxon, Myles Kennedy, Dee Snider, Black Star Riders, local boys Skindred and more, carve their name in the ‘mountains’ music history.
Now on with the show…. The fans are flocking in on a hot summers afternoon as VALHALLA AWAITS takes to the stage. This hard hitting 5piece waste little time and get into a set which blows the cobwebs away and has the sheep running for cover. Their set is made up of their debut EP ‘Condemned’ with its meaty riffs and soaring lyrics provided by Andy Hunt, who lets us know they have another EP on the way before ripping into ‘Inside the Sun’ another dark offering that hits as hard as it sounds. The band are enjoying the open slot. A great choice of band as it sets the tone for the entire day. They finish the set with the belter that is ‘Digging the Grave’.
A splash of colour blinds the eyes as the sensational THE HOT DAMN hit the stage. Resplendent in Pink, Orange, Green and Blue ‘suits’ the girls dance down the runway, Gill carrying a large collection of balloons. The party is in the house. Their catchy set starts off with ‘Catch me if you Can’. The band are formed from the ashes of Tequila Mockingbyrd and the Amorettes, With Josie on drums and Gill on guitar and vocals, they then enlisted hat wearing guitar wizardess, Laurie Buchanan of Aaron Buchanan & the Cult Classics and Lzi Hayes previously of ‘Lannon’ who brings a crunching bass that has helped drive the band to new levels, replacing the departed Jacinta Jaye. The set is full of laughter as the girls deliver the play a mix of old and new including the Amorettes ‘Going Down’, Planet Rock favourite ‘Dance Around’ before signing off with the single ‘I Didn’t Love You Anyway.’ With colours flashing across the set and a fabulous Tie-Dyed back drop, it would be remiss of me not to mention Josie’s stunning rainbow wrapped Natal kit, to pretty to hit hard, but she does anyways, the whirlwind is a beast once sat behind her kit of choice. KIRA MAC is prowling the stage as the crew try to oust the Gremlins that seem to have snuck on to the stage and cause a slight technical problem. Problem solved the band hit the stage with ‘Dead Man Walking’ about an ex who was a bad un, the song came about from a comment her dad made as so the song was born. Having previously dabbled in Country music the Southern Rock vibe comes across naturally, her voice, full of grit, is an absolute powerhouse in its delivery. She carries on the set with ‘Downfall,’ ‘Mississippi Swinging’ and a great cover of ZZ Tops ‘TUSH.’ Her Amazonian figure dominates the stage as the crowd can’t help but enjoy her brief set. Her confident attitude belies how little the band have played live. I managed to catch an acoustic set when supporting Ricky Warwick back in May. What a set which concludes with ‘Chaos is Calling’ a great classic rock track straight out of the late 70’s. Definitely one to catch at your local venue. Kira and the band went on to play at the Rock and Blues Custom Show near Derby on the Saturday but were back up the mountain on the Sunday. There’s loyalty for you. Local boys SCARLET REBELS take to the stage next. Dwarfed by the huge ‘REBELS’ backdrop are keen to get going, there’s a good quarter of an hour to catch up on with Kira’s delay. Kicking off with ‘I’m Alive’ the scorching guitars of Jones and Doyle rip in as we get under way. A kit issue has the crowd singing to the band as the offending item is replaced. ‘Save Me,’ ‘See Through the Blue’ and ‘These Days’ follow, the latter featuring a ‘Fuck the Tories’ quote which brings huge cheers from the crowd. The band are a tight unit and have a huge following non so evident as today as Doyle takes to the mic and finishes the set with ‘Heal’ a classic rock track full of emotion. The local boys have done good and laid the gauntlet down for the next band. THE DUST CODA seem to be everywhere at the minute, having caught them at a number of midlands gigs just recently, Wolverhampton and Nottingham to name a few. Australian, front man Drake’s guitar cries out during opener ‘Jimmy 2 Times’ in fact being stood in the pit I stop taking photo’s just to watch this champion shred. The band follow this with ‘Demon’ a powerful thumping track which eventually leads into ‘Sweet Love Is Gone’ a bluesy ballad from the 2017 self-titled album. Their new album ‘Mojo Skyline’ is full of recognisable influences from both here and down under, but the sound is definitely their own as they hit hard with ‘Best Believe It’ with its crushing drums and fast paced lyric. The crowd appreciate the band with a triumphant cheer as the set concludes. The Dust Coda are a hardworking, hard gigging band and it shows, tight, dynamic and musical, a great set indeed we like that one a lot. The next set come across with mixed emotions for many. MYKE GRAY, after 20plus years has decided to hang his ‘Vegan Vee’ up and follow his heart, across the sea to ‘Merica to be with his wife. Those of us privileged to know Myke, know this wasn’t an easy choice for him, but in his own words he cannot do both, and dedicate himself 100%. I for one salute him and wish him every success for the future, fingers crossed it will involve some hair-raising rock n roll in the future, but for now this is his final farewell live gig in the UK so let’s get it on. Having covered Myke’s opening night of the 3 three gig run up to the Steelhouse set, I know we are in for a night bringing back memories of his stunning back catalogue including songs from Jagged Edge, Skin, Red White & Blues, Schism and Shades Of Gray. His vocalist tonight is the mighty Daniel Byrne of Revival Black. The last time I saw Myke up the mountain he had Phil Conalane on vocal duties. Tonight, will be emotional to many, as dressed in his ying yang black and white denims he hits the stage beaming from ear to ear. ‘Stand Up for Rock & Roll’ from his Red, White & Blues era is a great start to the set. The sudden onslaught has caused yet another Gremlin and it appears the PA is down, from the pit it also sounds like the bass is missing from the mix coming from the stage wedges. But the band play on as the gremlin is quickly outed and we carry on with ‘Money,’ ‘Turn It Up Louder’ and ‘Trouble.’ The next song is always a contentious one, ‘House of Love’ a stunning song by SKIN was originally sung by Nev MacDonald and many think it should only be sung by him. Dan hits this song hard, and boy does he kill it. Myke is beaming, as legs spread, he rips it a new one. ‘You Don’t Love Me.’ ‘Spit on You’ follow with typical screaming guitars and a thudding bass line. Myke writes a great song evident with the crowd’s reaction as they sing along to ‘Look but Don’t Touch’ another SKIN banger, along with ‘Take Me Down to The River’ and the epic, with its distinctive bruising bass intro, ‘Tower of Strength.’ The set finishing with the memorable ‘Shine Your Light.’ A giant of a song to finish a career with. As Myke applauds the crowd and poses for pictures, we watch the end of an era. SKIN what a band to have been part off. INGLORIOUS have the honour of closing out the opening night. The voice that is Nathan James, effervescent in every way, seems to have found peace in the latest line up of his band. Putting the past firmly in the closet and throwing the key. The band have delivered outstanding performances wherever they have played of late. Sliding onto the set, arms outstretched, we kick off with ‘She Won’t Let You Go’ the 2020 single full of early 80’s big hair soaring guitars, harmonising as they did. ‘Messiah’ sees a more melodic side to the band as James shows us how clean his pipes really are with a stunning display of control. Guitarist Dela Cruz, for the most part is playing in the darker side shows us why he has helped cement his place in the band as he rips a scorching lick or two during ‘Unaware.’ With a set with hints of Whitesnake, Foreigner and Dio flowing through it veins it’s no surprise ‘Medusa’ with its Marsden style slide guitar has the crowd bouncing along into ‘Barracuda’ with its thundering intro has Beaver working hard on the drums as this mighty number cruises along at thundering gallop. This stunningly triumphant set is concluded with a guitar fest provided by Stevens and Dela Cruise as they rip into ‘Until I Die,’ an Encore to many a previous set. A grinding way to rock the end of the night. James vocal is up there with the best as he swoops and soars around the crushing melody from the self-titled album. The screaming solo a highlight to the final song of a stunning opening day for this year’s festival.
STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL 2022. DAY 2
The Gods have aroused after their slumber, woken from their dreams by the sounds of live music and fun, they have returned and with it bringing all that Steelhouse is memorable for. Driving from my digs in Caerphilly, in sunshine I might add, it becomes all to obvious that the mountain top is in turmoil. Parking up and feeling my way into the arena seemingly apparent low cloud and lower temperatures than the Friday is designed to put a dampener on the festival spirit.
Think again, a vast majority of the crowd gathered are seasoned ‘Steelhouse’ veterans, this weather is mild compared to previous years. With wind cheaters and anoraks to hand, the battle jacket wearing regulars are already at the bar and drinking hard. A day of drizzle won’t dampen any spirits that’s for sure.
As the day slowly brightens, right on cue. MOTHER VULTURE takes to the stage. This band need to carry a health warning as from the opening note they’re a whirling dervish of a band. Bassist Chris Simpson looks disappointed as he can’t get to the end of the runway due to his lead being too short, he watches on as his partner, gymnast in crime Brodie Maguire throws out a floor routine worthy of any gymnast, to make matters more interesting he leaps not once but twice from the stage into the crowd, the second time leaping over the head of singer Georgi Valentine. He then went on to writhe on the ground with his beautiful metallic green Gretsch guitar, how either didn’t break their neck is amazing. The set finishing with Valentine and Maguire sat at the runway end whilst drummer Matt West and Bass player Chris Simpson sat with their legs dangling over the main stage. Their Punk fringed brand of metal worked well with their frenetic acrobatics, what an opening set leaving many a mouth wide open, mine included. I feel a bit sorry for ANCHOR LANE who now have to follow such a nuclear band. And follow them they did. This Glaswegian three piece have the crowd on their side, possibly knowing they can’t compete with what’s just happened. The former quartet get down to business oblivious to Mother Vultures opening act. With a forth coming tour with The Virgin Marys to look forward to they are here to show what they’re about and get the party started as they hit us with the percussive ‘Stutter,’ drums and guitar rip into this bouncing tune, Gaffney is up front telling us its taking 12hrs to get there and they’re here to have a party. The Guitar of O’Brian is big and full of flavour as he pours the coals on. You’d be forgiven for thinking Big Country were in the house with the bouncing fruitiness of ‘Ministry’ as the set continues onwards. The previous band long forgotten as ‘Blood & Irony,’ the opening track on 2020’s Casino, enters the fray, a nice gentle start gives way to a blood curdling scream as the tune lifts off. ‘Mischievous Song’ and ‘Fame Shame’ follow as the dynamic between the band and crowd grow, leaving us with ‘Choke’ to ponder, a full blooded ripper as Gaffney asks the crowd to go mental for this one, the crowd are head nodding and punching the air, maybe not quite mental, but a good start judging by some of the sore heads this morning. Leaving the stage to a rousing cheer, well done guys. CARDINAL BLACK, locals it would seem as big Tom Hollister appears from the mist and shouts out “Alright! Let’s Have It” and then giggles to himself. I’ve seen this band several times before and have always been left agog at why they’re not massive headliners. A little bit different to your usual Steelhouse band as the silky-smooth voice of Tom Hollister caresses as they open up with ‘Rise Up.’ We have a stunning guitar sound coming from probably one of the most talented players on the circuit. Young Chris Buck, former best guitarist in the world, dressed in a black Macintosh, strokes his instrument of choice, namely a gold double cut away. His tone matches Tom’s ridiculous silky voice. Luther Vandross is channeling and you can visible see the girl’s knees go weak. As with a lot of bands you can hear ‘nods’ to a variety of sounds where they’ve drawn inspiration from, these and evident as the set plays on, ‘Tell Me How It Feels,’ ‘Jump In’ perfect vehicles for his warm honey filled voice to further seduce and hold the attention. A Guinness appears from the crowd, despite shouts of ‘Chug, Chug, Chug’ Tom casually takes a drink then replies you wouldn’t want me to share it with you all. He apologies for not being as Rock’n’Roll as other bands on the billing, but listening to the tight sound coming from the 5piece it didn’t matter, the guitar was sublime, keys on point and the meaty backline was strong and hardy. Drop the voice over the top and you have one of the stand out bands of the weekend as the band finish with a masterclass in slow blues, finishing with the delicious ‘Tied Up In Blue,’ with its improvised ‘jazz’ note solo provided by Mr. Buck, down the runway. The roar of approval from the crowd only backs what I thought, as a smiling Tom Hollister leaves the stage, a job well done. One of Planet Rocks Premiere DJ’s now takes to the stage, throwing drumsticks in to the crowd on the way to his kit. Wyatt Wendell’s has brought his ‘Cymbals of Appreciation’ up the Steelhouse Mountain in the form of his manic band BLACK SPIDERS. This crushing powerhouse mash up of all things gargantuan sounding deliver a 45minute set full of rip snorting abuse. From the powerhouse opening track, ‘Death Comes Creeping’ to the set closer ‘Kiss Tried To Kill Me’ the band deliver a trail of destruction. ‘Spider’ Spilby on vocals, stands front and centre, his gritty voice keeps the ship err ship shape as he lets loose on this high-octane set. The Guitar of Denim wearing ‘Owl’ Lister has the finesse of a police bartering ram as he delivers scorching licks in ‘Stick It to The Man,’ full of string bends and distorted madness to the cacophony of ‘Stabbed in The Back.’ Wendell’s, preening in-between barrages of shear chaos around the kit looks content as he tears into 60’s smasher ‘Good Times’ and locking in tight with ‘Fox’ Irwin create a psychotic barrage of rhythmical abuse that is ‘Teenage Knife Gang’ finishing the set with ‘Kiss Tried To Kill Me’ from 2011’s Sons Of The North, with its ‘Merican riffing sound bringing the set to an untimely end. Black Spiders maybe not be to everyone’s liking, but give them a go, they converted me, a cracking set. Finnish Prog-Miester’s the VON HERTZEN BROTHERS hit the stage amidst the Steelhouse drizzle. I’ve witnessed these Scandinavian band of brothers recently as they toured their latest album, Red Alert in a Blue Forest. They’re layering of aural textures on the album is sublime and a worthy addition to any ‘Prog’ fans collection. With a cheery Mikko controlling the show the band are into ‘Day of Reckoning’ the first track from the new long player. I can’t help but feel there is an early Wishbone Ash vibe in they’re trying to get out. The bouncing synthesised sound chimes out as the harmonised voices of the brothers send shivers across the mountain top, it slowly builds until the inevitable release as Kie dances around the stage, releasing a thunderous wall of sound which resonates across the arena. Pausing briefly saying it’s good to be back, smiling Mikko refers to their previous appearance at Steelhouse, Kie destroys the moment with a scorching finger exercise that is the start to ‘Frozen Butterflies,’ from the ‘War Is Over’ album, with it’s drum beat echoing around the stage, the softly sung lyric belies the fury that is happening on stage. The folk inspired ‘All of A Sudden You’re Gone’ is up next, released as a single in January this year, it’s ethereal folk tones tipped with the synthesised keys from brother Jonne giving it it’s hauntingly dramatic orchestral sound. ‘Long Lost Sailor’ which originally started out as a song about cowboys and the wild west goes down well as the water falls gently from the sky. Mikko ventures down the runway to deliver a precise solo, smiling as he does so his hair sodden by the Welsh mizzle as he delivers a stunning lick, Kie is dancing around, the man is never still as they finish the set with the slightly pacier ‘Peace Patrol.’ A great sounding song with hints at the musical east running through it. Kie has the honour of letting rip with a scintillating guitar solo that wouldn’t be out of place on any early YES or Pink Floyd album. I have to admit I am a huge fan of the Finnish brothers so it’s no surprise that they are one of my standout bands of the weekend, get and see them, they’re magical! How do you follow that Scandinavian magic, well it’s easy you pour on more Scandinavian’s in the form of Sweden’s H.E.A.T. With Kenny Leckremo now back at the helm. Due to Eric Grönwall leaving and joining Skid Row, In-fact at Kenny’s last show he said he would be back with his brothers one day, and what an impact he’s making. Swedish Melodic rock has just taken it up a notch, with guitarist Dalone re-joining the band prior to the recording of ‘Into The Great Unknown’ album release, the band are now firing on all cylinders, and firing hard! Opening they’re set with ‘One By One’ from 2020’s H.E.A.T. II, the voice is sublime as he runs up and down the runway playing to the crowd, his smile is palpable as the huge 80’s guitar sound echoes around the dancing crowd, Crash is smiling as he hammers a walking beat, the first song and already the crowd has swollen as the melodic 80’s are revisited. The 80’s sound continues with ‘Running Free,’ ‘Dangerous Ground’ and ‘Hollywood,’ the latter is being 4, off the latest album Force Majeure, such a great tune I bought the album when I got back home. The boys have certainly brought the party vibe to the mountain, carrying on with ‘Straight For Your Heart’ from 2008’s self-titled debut album, a title often mistakenly called ‘straight from the heart.’ ’Crash’ gets a work out on this one with it’s battering ram start before it settles down to a rhythmical onslaught. Kenny’s voice is soaring on this one as he again dances around in the wet evening, the stunning guitar with it’s impromptu wah wah is straight from the history books. ‘Beg Beg Beg’ from 2012’s Freedom Rock has the guitars and drums rocking away, this single from 2012 is a great party tune with the distinct Eurovision vibe. The set closed with ‘1000 miles’ the Bonus track on the original H.E.A.T. album alongside ‘Stay’ and ‘Nationwide’ a rousing climax from the latest offering Force Majeure. Wow two great Scandi rock bands, it doesn’t get any better, or does it, well when you have the GRAHAM BONNET BAND up next you know the party is going to continue. Belying his 74 years, the ever-youthful Bonnet hits the stage. Despite the passing years the stunning voice has remained true to himself with jacket, tie and sunglasses. He casually gets down to business with giving us the favourites from ‘Down To Earth,’ that Rainbow classic, along with a smattering of hits from his extensive back catalogue, including time with Schenker. Kicking off with ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ and ‘All Night Long’ we’re immediately transported back to 1979, ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ the single being released in August ’79 it reached No6 in the mainstream UK singles chart, ‘All Night Long’ went one better and reached No 5. The album went on to peak at No6. These two songs grabbed hold of the more aged in the crowd as they burst into song. Fists and horns flying as a sometimes, strained looking Bonnet belted out these classics. He squeezes in ‘Imposter’ from his ‘Day Out In Nowhere‘ album after telling us he’s had his knees worked on, he’s previously eyed up the wet runway reworded a line in all night long to emphasise his trepidation of venturing out onto it. His solo hit, ‘Night Games’ gets a solid reception as we all take the time to sing along with this great man. ‘With Eyes of the World,’ ’Makin’ Love’ we carry on our journey through this, his only Rainbow album, although he was still part of the band when ‘Difficult To Cure’ was incepted. The band are solid as they help us through this great time in our lives. The lighting swirls all the colours of the rainbow as we go. Brazilian guitarist Conrado Pesinato comes to the front and gives us his best Ritchie Blackmore, without the tantrums, full of flashy riffing and scorching licks, the swirling keys are provided by former Italian Prog Metal band Aphelion, Alessandro Bertoni delivers the sounds of Don Airey and Bonnets project band, Alcatrazz which included a young Yngwie Malmsteen. The thundering bass is handled with aplomb by Beth Ami-Heavenstone, her red scarf standing out from her black catsuit as her bass purrs to the strokes of her fingers. Before we finish, we get ‘Assault Attack,’ the title track from the 3rd MSG album released in 1981. And closing out with ‘Lost In Hollywood,’ Set and album closing goes down a storm. Bonnet now in just a shirt and tie having lost his jacket earlier has delivered a knockout set. Sunday is the last night on his UK tour, so Manchester bound he waves us a goodbye and leaves us reminiscing of days long gone. The tour has been a great success, he has had Beth Blade and the Disasters as support, they have provided him with the back line for tonight’s set, he has said they have been the best band he’s worked with. Having caught part of their set previously, I’d say he’s telling the truth. As night draws in the stage is made ready for the mighty SAXON. Having seen them at the beginning of the year on their 40th Anniversary Tour, this is a band I’ve been wanting to see again. I’m getting another fix later in the year when they embark on the ‘Seize the Day World Tour.’ Biff and the boys took this slot when American guitarist Ace Frehley pulled his European tour just weeks before the event. Hitting the stage, we start as we mean to go with ‘Motorcycle Man’ complete with its ear-piercing whistles, ‘Thunderbolt’ and the mighty ‘Wheels of Steel’ before which a battle jacket is thrown to Biff who postulates with it before putting it on. Ironically on the back is a large KISS patch. Rumour has it that Biff signed the jacket before handing it back. The band is surrounded by smoke bolting through ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’ from ‘Strong Arm of the Law‘ continues the driving rock, Glockler’s feet are working overtime as he punishes his kit. Quinn and Scarrett share the guitar duties as Nibbs Carter has his thunderbird bass rattles out a torturous deep rumble, locked in tight with Glockler crushing beat. Biff’s voice is solid as he powers through the set, at 71 he does’nt think anything of it, as he hits the note. ‘Strong Arm Of The Law’ is up next, the crowd ever eager to sing joining in the chorus of this rousing tune. ‘They Played Rock and Roll’ from the album ‘Thunderbolt’ is up next. This tribute to Motörhead is full of their trade mark drum beat, fast guitar and thundering bass lines this powerful delivery isn’t faltering as the band lock in tight and deliver this crushing anthem. Six songs in and three albums visited, ‘Solid Ball Of Rock’ makes it four, that being from 1995’s ‘Dogs of War.’ ‘Solid Ball Of Rock’ follows from the self-titled album. The chugging intro leads into a solid snare beat. The twin guitars are locked in as Biff sings about being in Louisiana on Highway 84, a driving tune that takes us into the classic ‘Denim and Leather’ from the self-titled album from 1981. And then into the crushing pile driver of a song ‘Battering Ram’ again from the 2015 self-titled album. Scarrett leads the way with a scorching guitar, Glockler works over time as he thunders out a steady kick drum, Biff is walking and pointing as he sings ‘Battering Ram.’ Nibbs is as ever bounding around the stage pointing at individuals in the crowd as he does so. ‘The Eagle Has Landed’ wins the vote by the crowd. Another album, 1983’s ‘Power And The Glory‘ is featured. With it’s slow almost ballad style start has the crowd cheering, the horns are flying as Guitars cry out in time to Glocklers rock steady beat. This 7minute anthem is nearly 3 minutes old before Biff decides to step up to the microphone on this track worthy of any prog band. Toby Jepson of Wayward Sons and a Planet Rock DJ makes a guest appearance as the band play ‘And The Bands Played On.’ Speaking to Toby on the Sunday, he says “When Biff calls you answer”, given next to no time to learn the lyrics there is the obvious mix up of words, something Toby tells us, Biff duly bollock’d him for. ‘Crusader,’ ‘Power And The Glory’ and ‘Never Surrender’ continue the trip down memory lane, with their fast-scorching guitar licks, thundering back line and great lyrics delivered by one of the best on the circuit, the mountain has had a great night. But it’s not over we get a couple of extras in the form of ‘747 (Strangers in the Night) from ‘Wheels Of Steel.’ The crowd are all over this one, Horns are flying as the mountain sings as one, and that not being enough we get set closer ‘Princess of the Night’ from ‘Denim and leather.’ A truly anthemic end to day 2 of a memorable Steelhouse weekend. As we slowly make our way from the stage, I can’t help but hope that the rain gods have been pleased with today’s line up and the sun will return for the final day, I cross my fingers as I leave the mountain behind me and head for a warm shower and a good cup of Yorkshire tea.
STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL 2022. DAY 3
Waking up is always a bonus, today more so as the mountain gods seem to be smiling on us, as, for the moment, the world is looking glorious, bathed in warm sunlight, the sky, a deep blue has the occasional fluffy cloud floating in the far distant. With a smile on my face and a spring in my step I collect the errands for friends on the mountain and head off on the 25-minute drive. Nearly half of it is taken driving up that god forsaken goat trail of a road up to the event. My estate car is no 4X4 but manages the climb with consummate ease, unlike some folk previously.
Parked up and errands delivered it’s into the venue with time to spare before we are hit with the percussive onslaught that is the great ASHEN REACH. Covering the band recently supporting Myke Gray on his farewell ‘MYKESTOCK’ tour prior to his final show on the mountain last night. This five-piece laid down some gargantuan beats in Wolverhampton so I’m looking forward to seeing the crowd’s reaction to this up-and-coming band. A huge jump from front man Kyle Stanley gets the show started with ‘Fighting for My Life.’ His animated delivery waking the bleary eyed in the crowd. Guitarist, Joe O’Sullivan has his ginger dreads moving hard as he delivers the doom ridden riffs to ‘Heir to the Throne.’ Jess Stanley hitting the skins hard on this drop tuned monster. Paddy Cummings is shoegazing as his hair covers his face whilst rocking out a meaty middle section of pure dirt, complete with Stanley’s vocal growls and the thundering bass from Mike McCarroll. The song switches to an almost symphonic sound to bring us to the finish and then we’re into ’Prey’ a mellower tune in its build up until an ear-piercing scream from both Stanley and Cumming’s break the monotony. The deliberate almost spoken lyric carries this song forward, sharp guitars weave around a thundering backline on this eerily delivered song. Fan favourite ‘Epiphany’ follows with it’s riffing intro interrupted with pitched squeals and heavy cymbal and tom work. This monastic banger has a medieval feel feel to it, heavy on the evil mind. Again, the hair is flying as this huge song is thrust at the nodding crowd. The set is finished with the title track to their album, ‘Homecoming’. Stanley fires it off with another leap into the air after the noodling guitar intro which lasts for nearly a minute before it up tempos and shortly after, we get a delicate side to Stanley’s vocals. The song is full of tempo changes and screaming guitar, with Stanley and O’Sullivan down the runway in the early afternoon sunshine, they bring this song to a raucous end, with guitars and fists held high they have opened the final day of Steelhouse 2022 and a great job they’ve made of it judging by the crowd’s reaction. A favourite band of mine takes to the stage next, Derby’s very own Bearded Collective known as These Wicked Rivers, seemingly enjoying a surge in popularity, and rightly so. Their take on good old rock and roll with a heavy side of blues is both refreshing and damn right infectious. Guitarist, Arran Day wastes little time in hacking out the riff to opener ‘Shine On’ from their debut album ‘Eden.’ This is a song I’ve seen them open with previously and it doesn’t disappoint. With Day’s high kicking antics while rocking out the solo, to Dan Southall trying to rearrange our insides with his thunderous pounding of the kit, the song envelopes John Hartwell’s stunning vocal as he rasps into his hippie scarf wrapped microphone and stand. The swirling keys of Rich Wilson caress and fill in the blanks that aren’t there. Screaming, distorted guitars call out as Dale Tonks smiles endlessly as he roams the stage thumbing out a solid bass. ‘Force of Nature’ carries on the dirty blues onslaught, Arran Day‘s guitar is on overtime as he wanders down the runway, tentatively at first, he’s testing his cable length, until he realises, he’s wireless today, his white curly lead is in the kit box. The tight sound howls from the stage as Hartwell and Tonks jam out stage left leaving the solo work to Day, Rich Wilson shaking the tambourine when not crushing the keys. ‘Evergreen’ follows with its racy beat flowing hard. There is a familiarity to a well-known American band pumping through in the undercurrent. Day’s screaming solo at the front of the runway compliments Hartwell’s stunning vocal that’s been laid down. A tumultuous assault on the drums concludes the song concussively. ‘Testify’ a hard-hitting dirty blues number is up next, its raucous riff strikes out as, Hartwell his vocal grittier, as he forces a delivery to give it that moody feel. The riffs roll around him as he continues to flow on this gritty southern blues number, Days wah inspired solo is solid as the tune steps up to a chugging section before going back to the vocals, the crowd are loving this band it has swelled in numbers as more have arrived. The band have made a lot more friends as we go into their final song. Dark and Moody ‘Don’t Pray for Me’ is the final song in an all too short a set. With Hartwell preaching the opening verse as Wilsons keyboard swells in the background as the only a compliment to the voice, well until the band join in with a more subtle delivery. Guitarist, Day is again at the front of the stage as he fires up his Gretsch Guitar, full of nasty vibrato, he brings it down to a fat neck pick up vibe and it sounds ridiculously sweet, before switching up and rocking the hell out of the tune as he gathers alongside Tonk’s and Hartwell as he sings the outro. The double kickdrum of Southall is thumptastic as he locks in with Day’s guitar giving the crowd a display of blistering fret work. What a set, short, simple but a stunning crowd pleaser. Judging by the way fans were queuing to take pictures with the band afterwards, you know they just put themselves up there. The following two bands have so far escaped me on my rounds. Hailing from Birmingham UK KING HERD are up first. Previously called ‘Herd Farm’ and ‘Last Herd’ the ‘band of brothers’ changed the name as it didn’t look so good written down. Who wants to be last in anything? This Grunge loving band have only been gigging for a short time. Winterstorm in March being their fourth gig and the first of any size, that didn’t consist of a lot of friends. The band have received a bit of criticism for their seemingly lack of dynamic at the show, the previous statement will hopefully address that, the previous bands seen today have been around a lot longer and have built up quite a stage presence.
Kicking of the set with ‘The Same’ and then into ‘Close to The End’ the band are quickly into their groove; left-handed guitarist Tom Longworth grooving out as he smiles at the crowd. The Vocals of Dave Taylor full of angst as he delivers a rasping vocal, clutching the microphone, seemingly, for grim depth, it’s both brooding and dark as eyes closed, he gives it his all. Beanie wearing bass player, Ray Loverock, his real name, is having the time of his life, he’s not wearing the camo jacket from the March festival but the Orange Beanie is fast becoming a trademark. With percussion is being looked after by Karl Brazil, his fills and riffs lifting each song as the guitar swoops and soars giving the melody a distorted growl. ‘Halo’ follows on and then we get the first of the two singles ‘Medicine.’ It promises a lot and to be fair it delivers in spades. Taylors voice is clear as both Loverock and Longworth harmonise until the dirty guitar riff takes over. The song rolls out it’s a great showcase for their writing ability, and worthy another listen. ‘Save Me’, ‘Another War’ and ‘Like It Used to Be’ follow on. Obviously, songs from the forthcoming album as yet un-named but due for a possible release in September. Each one is delivered with the verve expected of a band still learning the stage craft. The songs are powerful and dirty, Longworth’s sunburst Les Paul is nasty as he grinds out, bouncing around on stage right, one moment he’s holding the guitar up high by its neck as its just on the edge of feedback, has Taylor looking at him grinning from beneath his truckers cap. The second single ‘Remedy’ is the penultimate song of the set. Its powerful drum intro hits hard as Longworth’s guitar screams. This faster tune cruises with the heartbeat of a bad man on death row. Solid vocals and a pulsing back beat thrusting forward. It’s another showcase of a tune as the middle 8 slows to a walking beat and Taylor almost speaks his part before the song launches back into the solid hard-hitting melody, the blood and guts of the tune finishing with an almost scream from Taylor before stopping dead. I enjoyed that one as I walked across the back of the crowd filled arena. The final track is ‘I Used to Be Somebody Else’ and if I’m honest I was grabbing a cold bottle of water as this song played out. From what I have heard the band have the ‘Kahunas’ and are destined to enjoy a great future. If they can encourage their fans to post more live footage on the interweb’s for people to check out that will be a great step, Socials, in 2022 are your friend! GREEN LUNG grace the stage in front of a very large backdrop embellished with pagan symbology, a hint of things to come, as I hear on the grape vine, they’re psychedelic in sound but with a punkier, Pagan Occult, edge, sounds fun. They, so far, have two albums to their name, 2019’s ‘Woodland Rites’ and 2021’s ‘Black Harvest.’ Kicking their slightly longer set off with ‘The Harrowing’. Its chanting start and drone build into a barrage of keys and guitars not unlike YES in their anthemic early days. This instrumental opener pathe’s the way for a continuation of gigantic keys joined with distorted guitar and heavy drums as ‘Old Gods’ gives us a dark moody Black Sabbath meets YES vibe. Vocals of Tom Templar are brooding, as he roams the runway singing to individuals in the crowd in an almost spell casting hypnotic way. The Pagan vibe to both ‘The Ritual Tree’ and ‘You Bear the Mark’ having a great church organ solo from John Wright. This London based Doom, Stoner band have found a unique sound even though at times feeling familiar, the bouncy tempo changes in ‘Call of The Coven’ are splendid, the band have mastered what they are doing. This genre of music might not be to everyone’s taste but judging by the crowds ‘shoegazing’ reaction they’re going down well. ‘Reapers Scythe’ continues with hard drums, soaring organ and a dirty distorted guitar. Single ‘Leaders of the Blind’ once again floods the crowd with dark guitars and a stunning laidback vocal. The organ break divides the song as it returns to a repetitive drum beat with a scorching guitar from bandana wearing Scott Black. The sudden stop brings us to ‘Graveyard Sun’ about the Highgate Vampire. The picked guitar, echoing Templars vocal, as the band join in with an anthemic wall of sound. Before dropping back into a simple drum beat and an almost spoken storytelling vocal. Punctuated with a cacophony of doom sounding drop tunings and a swirling organ that all parts ways for Blacks searing solo, theirs’s an element of Jethro Tull in the mix which gives it a somewhat pleasant edge the guitar and flute have changed places. It works, they’re a great band, as the crowd cheer the end of the song. Penultimate track ‘Woodland Rites’ follows with heavier driven intro, drop tunings and thrashing cymbals roll through this musical piece, chorus and harmoniser pedals a plenty give this song a bigger sound as it bounces along full-on intent into set closer ‘Let the Devil In’. funnily enough these two songs follow each other on the 1019, ‘Woodland Rites’ album. A lazier start to the excitement of the previous tune, well until the band kick in properly then we have the dropped tuned stoner vibe kicking ass. Templar is giving this one the beanz as he moves around the stage. The steady walking beat a great foundation for the guitar and organ so swirl and soar amongst. Another notable hymn for any Pagan chapel. I’m surprised to not see hooded monks waiting at the stage side to escort the band as they slowly leave the stage, or should that be alter? Old faithful festival touring band DIAMOND HEAD are up next. This band has been about forever, in fact Metallica site them as being a major influence on their sound. Brian Tatler and the boys waste no time in getting down to it. Opening the score with ‘Play It Loud’ from the 1980 album, Lightning to The Nations has Rasmus down the runway in the sunshine, on his haunches delivering this great opener, ‘The Messenger’ follows on as the rest of the band wind up and deliver a powerful support to Rasmus’s fine vocal. Not seeming to mind the hot sun on his head the band crack on with ‘Lightning to The Nations’, ‘In the Heart of The Night’ and ‘Belly of the Beast.’ Bass work is being handled well by auditionee, Ben Clark, looking for a moment like one of the SAS guys from the TV, he seems to have picked up the part well and is enjoying the set. “ABBZ” seems to be enjoying the event as he windmills ala Pete Townsend, through the opening songs. Karl Wilcox’s metronomic timing on ‘Sweet and Innocent’, allows Tatler to lay a rocking riff, Rasmus’s sweet vocal soars all over it as the harmony’s make way for a rattling run around the kit, leading back into a rousing guitar riff that drives the song along at a gallop. ‘Set My Soul on Fire,’ a darker, broodier song follows on with Tatler smiling as he delivers a filthy riff. Rasmus is, foot on wedge slowly delivering this great tune lyric, from 2016’s ‘Diamond Head’ album. As this anthemic belter finishes with a screaming guitar solo, were told theirs’s only a couple more to go, the crowd are shouting out for ‘Am I Evil’ but we’re made to wait for that as we get ‘Shades of Black’ first with its striking drum intro and dual guitars. ‘It’s Electric’ is the penultimate track and a stunner of a tune in its own right. The last two songs of the set are both from the ‘Lightning to the Nations’ album from 1980. A stunning debut album in anyone’s books. They don’t fail to get the crowd bouncing. Thundering bass and drums nestled tight around a pair of stunning guitars bring the 80’s to 2022. The scream has hardly died down before we get the rat-a tat-tat snare drum of ‘Am I Evil’. Kicking in with vengeance and quickly has the crowd are on their toes, fists and horns are flying in the evening sunlight as the band crush all with this hard-hitting intro, a tune crying out for a gothic horror film. The dirty riffs and thundering drums seal the fate of the set as Ramus sings about his mother being a witch. It’s always going to be the standout song of any Diamond Head set, and being a fan, I’m with the crowd, lost in this the set closer. Without doubt a standout festival moment as the crowd are all singing ‘Am I Evil, Yes I Am’ as one solid voice. The mountain god will be smiling to himself as he wipes the clouds away. I’ve seen the next band referred to as a 21st Century Motörhead. Fronted by a giant of a man, Ben Ward, ORANGE GOBLIN has been gracing the Doom Stoner scene since 1995. There breakthrough album being released in 1997. ‘Frequencies from Planet 10’ heralded the way for this mighty band. With its tight sound drifting, at times into ‘Sweet Leaf’ territory giving an idea where this London based band are shooting for. A veritable shockwave of guitar slams out across the venue as Ben strides down the runway, no doubt looking for his beanstalk as he menacingly throws water over the crowd.
‘Scorpionica’ is a great intro to this massive band, the destructive riffs hit hard, full of the distorted concussion you’d expect for a grenade, the wah wah filled solo brings a more calming pass as Ben Ward, all 5ft 23” of him towers over the crowd as he whispers the lyric, the gentleness believing his huge stature. ‘Sons of Salem’ continues the onslaught. From 2018’s ‘The Wolf Bite Back‘. New(ish) bass player Harry Armstrong is rocking hard, dirty bass hitting hard as his hair flies about, He’s been playing live with the band a couple of days over a year. Replacing Martyn Millard who stepped down from the band after 26yrs. He’s fitted in well as this anthemic tune rattles the fillings and the windows in the next county. ‘Saruman’s Wish’ takes us to their debut album, 1997’s ‘Frequencies from Planet Ten.’ Full of tasty dark riffs it opens with a nice psychedelic wah driven guitar, before dropping into a more galloping riff. The short staccato vocal neatly nestling in between gallops leads us into 2002’s ‘Made of Rats‘. Hard hitting drums build over a dirty guitar riff as this song builds into a doom filled stoner of a tune, I get the ‘Rats’ reference in that they will always survive, something Orange Goblin is continuing to do as its fan base grows. ‘Renegade’ follows on but beforehand it gets dedicated to the mighty, late Mr Ian Lemmy Kilmister and the Philthy crew that is the original Motörhead, sadly all have departed. Standing tall Ward delivers this one and for a second, with eyes closed you could imagine it was Lemmy singing, eyes open and we have a missing Murder One, but the song, carries on full of Filthy Phil kick ass drumbeats scorching Fast Eddy Clarke guitar and Armstrong’s thundering bass. A great number and one that has the crowd bouncing in the afternoon sun. ‘Devils Whip’ from 2012’s ‘A Eulogy for The Damned’ continues the fierce bludgeoning. Sounding like something Lemmy may have penned. Guitarist Joe Hoare is riffing for his life, the sweat pouring from him as he throws down some evil, distorted licks as Ward laments gently to the crowd, not! ‘The Fog’ and set closer, ‘Red Tide Rising’ continue to piledrive the mountain top. Both these tracks are from their 2012 album ‘The Eulogy for The Damned’. Stoner layered riffs circle the crowd as Ward growls into the microphone set about eight feet above the crowd’s heads. His Lemmy style delivery continues through The Fog and into Red Tide Rising. Full of feed-back and distorted guitar and bass, Ward asks for the crowd to go fuckin’ crazy with this one, they’re ahead of him as the heads are nodding and fists and horns are flying, skyward. The band conclude with thanks to everyone for listening to them. What a set, explosive from the get-go, it was relentless to the very end, stupendous, I think I’ve just found another great live band to add to my already jam-packed collection.
As the stage is cleared folk hurriedly go and get a much need drink to get back in time for the penultimate band of the day. A paramotor flies over head, someone shouts out its Bernie Marsden trying to get in on the act, Bernie, the ever consummate professional and friend of Max and Mikey, and has played Steelhouse several times in the past, someone suggests that he’s not happy being left off the list of bands so is going to annoy everyone by ‘buzzing’ around.. oh, how we laughed!
The mighty MICHAEL SCHENKER needs no introduction. This smiling guitar god has been there and done it. As a youth he helped the Scorpions gain world recognition, his turbulent times with those in UFO are well documented, the MSG years and subsequent spin offs have all left us with a stunning back catalogue to choose from. For this set we have the amazing Robin McAuley on vocals, a powerhouse of a voice and a great choice. They open proceedings with ‘Into the Arena’ a stunning track from 1980’s album ‘The Michael Schenker Group’. The romping riffs of Schenker locked in with the drums of Bodo Schopf and the bass of Barend Courbois thunder across the arena, the tinkling of the keys from Steve Mann completing the sound as, now the band are warmed up in the early evening sun, ‘Cry for the Nations’, from the same album screams from Schenker’s fingers. The powerful voice of McAuley resonates as he ambles down the runway amidst the crowd. Schenker’s nimble fingers shred out the awesome solo of this early track. This flows into the opening of one of Schenker, and his then band, U.F.O.’s, first and biggest hit. ‘Doctor Doctor’, from Phenomenon released in 1974, yes 1974, that’s how long this bouncy track has had fans singing along too it. A staple of and Schenker gig and played early as there will no doubt be a U.F.O. medley later on. The band bounce as Schenk’s delivers. A stunningly timeless track.‘Looking for Love’ from the second ‘MSG’ album, from 1981 follows then ‘Red Sky’ from ‘83’s ‘Built to Destroy’ and ‘Sail the Darkness’ from the newer album ‘Immortal’ which gets a rousing cheer. Its full of dark 80’s riffs that take you back to yesteryear despite being released in 2021. Another U.F.O. tune gets the crowd bouncing again. ‘Lights Out’ from 1977’s lights out album, a bit of trivia but this was the first album to feature keyboard and rhythm guitarist, Paul Raymond who had joined the band in 1976. Some would say it was U.F.O.’s crowning glory as it included ‘too hot to handle’ ‘lights out’ and symphonic epic ‘love to love.’ A visit back to the first album brings us the banger that is ‘Armed and Dangerous.’ The album being his first after leaving U.F.O. the anthemic vibe is still hard hitting as the horns and fists are flying as the band belt out this riffing masterpiece. McAuley’s voice is as powerful and youthful as remembered from the days of yore. Schenker’s Dean Flying V is being pointed as, hat wear he smiles at the crowd as the riffs fly. The leather jacket is long gone as he now favours a baggy cowl necked black tee shirt over his ripped jeans. Universal, the latest album has ‘The King Has Gone’ played next. Full of Blackmore-esque riffs and the repeated references to the legacy left by probably the world’s greatest ever rock singer, non-other than the late Ronnie James Dio. The repeated Rainbow and Black Sabbath song references leave you in no doubt that the band hold Ronnie in the highest of esteems. The solo is pure Schenker, dripping with melody, my track of the set, as we sing ‘Watching Our Rainbows Rising.’ The second half of the set is dedicated to Schenker’s U.F.O. days, starting with ‘Rock Bottom.’ It’s a great intro has the crowds bouncing like Tigger on a sugar rush. Those who know are singing along, myself included, this is vintage Schenker, stunning, as he solos for an eternity just like the 1978 live album ‘Strangers in the Night‘. Schenker demonstrates his technique and speed, Mann on keys gives it a racy effect on this epic number. One of my favourite tracks ‘Stop Stop’ follows. This one is from ‘Force It’ the 1975 release. McAuley’s voice is stunning on this, far better suited to it than Mogg’s, in both tune and range as Schenker lets fly with yet another tasty lick or two, crouching over his vee, locked in the crook of his right knee. ￼ ‘Let It Roll’ from the same ’75 album continues this nostalgic treat of Schenker’s final years with British rock giants U.F.O. Its galloping intro lets you know that it means business. The romping tune lets McAuley breath as he competes with Schenker in both key and melodic delivery.
A great tune delivered in the still warm evening sunshine. The mountain gods have bestowed on us a stunning final day, as, ‘Natural Thing’ from ‘76’s ‘No Heavy Pettin’ follows on, a simple change in tempo allows the band to catch their breath as the crowd surprisingly sing along to this one. Mann on electro acoustic drives the song as Schenker bops and weaves along, throwing in the occasional dive bomb for good measure. The Epic ‘Too Hot to Handle’ from 1977’s ‘Lights Out’ album. Again, the crowd are in fine voice as they sing along with McAuley. This driving riff has the horns up again as the crowd bounce along to Schenker’s every riff, Schenker shares vocals moments before wiping his hands up and down his guitar neck delivering a sonic barrage to close out the song, but we’re not done even though we’re past his allotted finishing time you’re not stopping a great man as the band launch into another firm fan favourite from Schenker’s last album with U.F.O. 1978’s Obsession and ‘Only You Can Rock Me‘. A fitting end to a stunning set of classic Schenker guitar greatness. With some of these songs close to 50yrs old it just shows you how good the song writing was back then. A greatest hit from the great man.
Headliners EUROPE have brought the party to the mountain yet again. Having enjoyed their previous time here. Once again, the crowd has swelled in size ready for some of this amazing Swedish rock band. Messrs Tempest, Norum, Leven, Micheli and Haugland haven’t aged one bit over the years. Having already seen the band opening on the Whitesnake Farewell Tour, with a set that was both far too short and restrictive, I’m glad that fans are going to get the full treatment with a powerful 17 song set, stretching back across the years and ultimately ending with that song! Before the set gets going it looks like there are a few issues. Schenker’s set has run over by about 10 minutes, and it looks like the band are trying to catch up. Inevitably there is a gremlin holding things up. Joey takes the microphone and wanders down the runway to fill in some time, he asks the younger members of the crowd what songs they’re looking forward to hearing, yip you guessed it but it’s one we’ll have to wait until the end for. With things looking promising, Joey refers to Haugland being called the sexiest man alive by Coverdale, in fact he does more than a passable impression of the man himself. With everything sorted the band recompose themselves. The lights fade as the atmosphere builds. The intro music dies down as ‘Walk This Earth’ kicks off the set, from the self-title album of 2017. This quickly sets the tone of the night as blue light escapes from the stage as Tempest’s ever youthful voice chimes out. He dances with his microphone stand before Norum gives us a taste of his solo. With claps and cheers from the crowd the band start into ‘Rock the Night’ from that album of 1986. The crowd are all too keen to join in on the chorus. The band tight behind him. Haugland’s crunching drum roll on the drums segues nicely in to Norum’s crying guitar. Asking for some hands Joey warms the crowd up as Norum cuts loose, his tone is sublime as he delivers a taste of what he’s got in his back pocket. No Schenker but equal to his melodic playing in every respect. Crouching down he delivers a crazy riff to close out the song. ‘Scream of Anger’ is next followed by ‘Carrie’ another from the great ‘Final Countdown’ album. The stunning piano of Micheli jingles around the venue. Joey’s voice is on point as goose bumps react to this stunning love song, this has and always will be a standout song for me in any Europe set. It’s made extra special as Joey conducts the band in a singalong session just before Norum rips out a great solo. Hands have been up for most of this song, nearing the end they are waving along to the beat. The hard hitting ‘Firebox’ follows this smooth ballad. Its rumbling drum intro making no attempt at being peaceful. The swirling keys of Micheli are entwined around the beat as this song soars along, Joey’s voice steering it along as we get the middle 8 heavily influenced with an eastern charm, his dancing around slows as Norum takes centre stage and rips a stunning solo lick or two. ‘Last Look at Eden’ follows after its instrumental lead in, the crushing drum beat and thrashing guitar are loud and brash as Joey is up front delivering, Twirling the mic stand he marches over to Norum as he riffs along to this heavier Europe track from 2009. Norum’s outro solo is full of fat bluesy licks as Leven on bass dances across from the corner. A trip back to 1988’s ‘Out Of This World‘ album we have ‘Sign of the Times.’ This Euro banger has lost none of its impact with screaming guitars and a walking, heavy drum beat all wrapped up in Micheli’s keyboard sound. The tone takes you back to the halcyon days of the 80’s and Eurovision. ‘War Of Kings‘ is a heavier, darker album from 2015, and from it we have ‘Hole in My Pocket.’ This shows a darker side to the band and just what they can deliver in an effort to gain more fans and keep with the ever-changing music themes. Its full of fast paced phased guitars, chunky drum beats and a distorted Hammond organ sound. ‘Let the Good Times Rock’ from 1988 brings the music style back to classic Europe. Plenty of screaming guitar sounds and spinning mic stands. ‘War Of Kings’ changes the vibe again as we get another visit to the darker side. Thumping bass and dark guitars lead us into this heavy hitter. This paths the way for ‘Heart of Stone,’ ‘Open Your Heart’ with Joey on acoustic guitar and ‘Wasted Time’ the second from 1984’s ‘Wings Of Tomorrow‘ album. Its familiar, but not quiet intro leading many into thinking it was time for that song. Again ‘Ready Or Not’ see’s Joey pick up the guitar again, Norum provides some fat bluesy notes as Joey sings the intro to this banger. Getting the crowd to clap along the band fire up. ‘Superstitious’ from ‘Out Of This World‘ with its big keyboard sound and percussive snare takes us back to the late 80’s as it floods in to ‘Cherokee’ from the break-through album ‘The Final Countdown.’ From its tom driven intro to the dirty red Indian inspired guitar riffs it takes us back to the ‘80’s once more. The crowd are again on their toes as they sing along to “Cherokee.” The voices are in fine form as the guitars wind up and the keyboard of Micheli strikes up the opening riffs to that song, yes, it’s ‘The Final Countdown’ Time! The crowd are bouncing harder than ever as the band deliver this, one of the 80’s best tracks loved by all. A fitting finish to any night. The energy on the mountain has just tipped off the scale as all the bouncing is driving the mountain down into a mere hill! Fists are flying as Norum plays that solo. The massive keyboard sound of Micheli swirls around the mountain top as the song lifts the crowd higher with each note as they sing back as one. As the song finishes, Joey hold his mic stand above his head, the band leave the stage as the fireworks crack and pop overhead the stage. The crowd continue to cheer as the fireworks continue.
Mikey and Max have yet again put on an excellent weekend of music, there’s been something for everyone, and for the main part, the weather has been good to us, for a change. Early bird tickets are available and selling fast, get them while you can as Steelhouse is probably the best value for money festival, along-side Stonedead, now Rockin The Bowl we hope will just be cancelling this year.
I’ll see you at the barrier!