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Steelhouse Festival - Live Review

The journey begins with a bone rattling, teeth chattering ascent up the mountain road to Hafod-Y-Dafal farm which hosts the most tremendous views of the South Wales valleys imaginable…. this is home to the Steelhouse festival.

DAY ONE - FOUR NATIONS FRIDAY started with Ireland's Black Water Conspiracy who performed a gutsy rock n roll set for the largest Friday crowd I have seen since Steelhouse put on the free Friday evening shows! Next Scotland's The Rising Souls. The band are fierce, with strong vocals, thundering riffs, bass driven tunes and foot stomping beats. Their set was flawless in spite of their injured frontman. Then came what most people had been waiting for - a quintet of local lads - Those Damn Crows. By far the highlight of the Friday. The crowd clad in black t shirts adorning their beloved South Walians sang their hearts out when told, bounced around to their rock anthems and laughed at their typical Welsh humour. Those Damn Crows have recently been chosen to support previous Steelhouse headliners 'Skindred' and I can see why. Lastly representing our neighbours in England was Massive Wagons. The English rockers had a classic vibe but didn't quite live up to the hype, though I wouldn't dismiss the idea of seeing them again. Lead singer Baz Mills strutted the stage with more energy than everyone put together that evening; and they still ended the night with a bang.

DAY 2 - LIBERTY LIES opened up Saturday afternoon with a laid back, open vibe. The band seemed very humbled to have played Steelhouse Festival. Ryders Creed from the Midlands followed next with classic rock tunes and gut wrenching riffs. They described themselves as the 'new wave of classic rock' and they're not wrong. Next came Hollowstar and The Wild! and both were equally as good but the following band really stood out for a very particular reason. Frontman of Crobot's vocals mimicked that of Alter Bridge legend Myles Kennedy (who made an appearance up the mountain last year)! Their performance was the best so far of the Saturday with stomping drums and blistering bass lines. Then came GUN, they too played a tight set. Another stand-out performance that evening was The Temperance Movement. Growing up listening to these Brits and then seeing them play almost identically to the recorded version was like a dream; a polished performance of rock and blues - they really added nostalgia that night. Their set had the crowd ready and raving for our Saturday night headliners, Thunder. Back for their second time, Thunder did not fail to end the night with some classic singalong tracks and a solid performance. Thunder just always impress! These were probably my highlight of the weekend and there's no doubt I'll head down to see them for the third time. Love Walked In is still an absolute favourite!

DAY 3 - SUNDAY is usually the day where everyone chills a bit more, they're tired from rocking out too hard the day before or they're suffering from the worst hangover ever after getting blotto the previous evening. This year was different. I've been attending Steelhouse Festival for seven years now and I hadn't ever seen anything like this before. QUEUES! Going right back to the campsites! After the ten minute wait listening to the chatters and mumbles of fellow festival goers, we were in and I'm telling you, there were masses of people already at the front of the stage. Why? The answer is simple. Thin Lizzy, sunshine and reasonably priced food and drink. Fans walked with their heads held high in their battered Lizzy tour shirts.

Opening the Sunday morning was classic blues rock band Willie and the Bandits, who played a fresh, clean set. The Amorettes; a quartet full of attitude and confidence. A tight performance with powerful vocals and hard riffs. Tax the Heat came next then Danko Jones; Canadian rock outfit performed with a punk vibe. Frontman Jones, a big energy, joked about messing up but that could have gone unnoticed had he not mentioned it. Uriah Heep brought the crowd with their classic tunes from 1972 album 'Demons & Wizards'. Both fans young and old rocked along with the band who will be celebrating their 50th year in 2020. Uriah Heep seemed honoured to be up the mountain for the first time and I hope to see them back up there sometime soon. Living Colour played next and I was looking forward to seeing them. Even though they managed to capture the crowd their set lacked fluidity. To be fair they joked about how they were supposed to follow Heep's awesome set. A Clash classic and a walk through the crowd was the highlight of their performance. They even brought out Bernie Marsden which had the crowd going wild. It's not Steelhouse if our Bernie isn't up there! (Hand Of Dimes were the missing piece this year; like the cool uncle you only see at a wedding - always pleased to see them, sorely missed if they don't attend).

Lastly the band everybody had been waiting for - Thin Lizzy. The 'boys' played an exclusive first time set celebrating their album 'Black Rose'. They played it in full and threw in a few classics. Having lost the late Phil Lynott back in 1986, Ricky Warwick (frontman for them now) had big boots to fill and that he did.

The festival this year was a massive success and I want to thank the Steelhouse family who work so hard every year to put on this great local event. It's their tenth anniversary next year so I'm expecting something even more amazing if that's possible and I have no doubt they'll put on the biggest and best Steelhouse so far!

You can purchase Steelhouse Festival 2020 early bird tickets here! I've heard the first 1000 'golden' ticket holders get access to some fabulous competitions and goodies 👀 (head to their Facebook page to find out more!)

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