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Thursday, 1 August 2013

The View From The Muddy Field: Steelhouse Festival (Day 2)

Steelhouse Festival, Hafan-Y-Mor Farm, Aberbeeg, Ebbw Vale

Day 2

A rain soaked night but in the morning there was sunlight with scattered showers predicted so after a hearty breakfast and some more beer inside us we once again ventured into the arena


Blackbyrd are a classic rock style band from South Wales with some Alter Bridge tendencies, the songs were again strong and the band provides another nice dose of rock and roll to blow away the hangovers from the night before, a nice short blast of hard rock for lunch. 7/10


Leicester's Skam are a three piece rock band that deal in no nonsense hard rock in the style of AC/DC with some Foo Fighters melody thrown in. A good band whose set improved as they carried on, they were the first band to suffer from the strong wind that had picked up throughout the day however the bands immediate approach meant that the few that were there to catch them thoroughly enjoyed them and the muscular rock style. 7/10

Trucker Diablo

Hailing from Northern Ireland I have only recently discovered this band so I was keen to see them live as I a m a bit of sucker for Southern style American rock and I'm very glad I did as the band are a rip roaring party from start to finish, yes their between song banter was very haphazard, possibly due to too much alcohol, however there songs are excellent although mainly focusing on girls, booze and trucking the songs were well written, well played and full of BSC style hard rocking although with a bit of Lizzy grit thrown in for good measure. The band worked through their set of Drink Beer, Destroy, Juggernaut, Voodoo, Big Truck, the mega single Drive and a brief snippet of Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Trucker Diablo are a very fun band with some killer songs that deserve to be much bigger than they are, a very good show. 9/10


More AOR from Vega who are revivalists, unfortunately their saccharine tones were awful in a live setting with the keyboards being too heavy in the mix and the singer was abysmal. It was time for lunch during this so after a song and a half we sought out some of the tasty treats on offer, mainly the Wild Boar and Red Wine pizza. My gig going mates and I sought shelter from the rain with our pizzas while Vega played. 3/10

Heavens Basement

The latest incarnation of this band seem to be its most successful and you can see why, mixing the snotty attitude of G'N'R with the modern rock styling's of Seether or other American acts. This band has had a lot of hype surrounding them and from the opening chords you can see why as the band is full tilt in your face rocking from the word go. Pulling songs from their debut the band roared through Fire, Fire, Nothing Left To Lose and Lights Out In London to a raucous crowd that, as the guitars brought the rock frontman Andrew Buchanan screamed like banshee bringing a huge amount of energy to the bands set, they really stood up to their next big thing tag on this evidence however they need to bring some more songs like Executioner's Day to the party to really be arena headliners. 8/10


Snakecharmer are a British hard rock band and a 'supergroup' of sorts. Formed by former Whitesnake men the very underrated guitarist Micky Moody and Neil Murray the bring along Thunder's Harry James on drums, Wishbone Ash's Laurie Wisefield as Moody's six string foil, a keyboard player that was not the usual Adam Wakeman who is probably busy with Black Sabbath, by way the star of the show (other than Moody) is vocalist Chris Ousey who is somewhere between leather lung David Coverdale and Paul Rodgers. Fighting with some sound problems throughout their set, possibly to do with the weather however the band made their way through their own tracks like Accident Prone and To The Rescue but where the crowd really got going was during the Whitesnake covers from the Moody era. With such strong tracks of Ready An' Willing, Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues. There was a break in the proceedings where Moody showed of his slide talent before the set ended with a few stone cold 'snake classics in the shape of Slow An' Easy, Here I Go Again and the encore of Fool For Your Loving ending the set on a high. In the comparison between this and the actual 'Snake then Snakecharmer have Cov & Co pipped in terms of vocal and musical talent, Moody is still a guitar hero, Murray is the strong silent pulse and Ousey has a voice that Cov would kill for all in all they are the ultimate tribute to 'Snake and a great addition to this bill. 8/10


British melodic rockers Magnum were up next as the timings were starting to slip, Magnum arrived on the stage later than expected (again weather related) and kicked things off with All The Dreamers, the set was a wide spectrum of songs drawing from their vast career throwing in the classics of How Far Jerusalem, Les Morts Dansant, The Spirit and All England's Eyes. Clarkin is still a guitar hero in the truest sense of the term as witnessed by the riff of Kingdom Of Madness. Bob Catley cuts a small figure but delivers a huge voice however everything was obscured by the over loud keys which meant that many of the songs weren't as impressive as they should have been, the running time issue also reared its head as the band played a three song encore when many assumed they had finished. Still a great addition to the bill but slightly out done by their heavy keys. 7/10

Michael Schenker

So finally it was time for the main event, the German guitar legend was ready to rock Steelhouse and rock it he did. This was the Temple Of Rock/Lovedrive reunion tour shows so naturally the set opened with the Lovedrive before moving into Another Piece Of Meat, this began the start of what was a career retrospective for Schenker bringing songs from The Scorpions, UFO and MSG. The man with the Flying V was backed by Keyboardist/guitarist Wayne Findlay (also with a Flying V) the stinging (sorry) rhythm section of ex-Scorpions men Francis Buchholtz on bass and Herman Rarebell on drums, vocally he couldn't have picked better with Scottish singer Doogie White ably mimicking Klaus Meine, Gary Barden and Phil Mogg while holding his own on the one new track from the Temple Of Rock in the shape of Horizons. Some between song banter followed with a short story about band getting lost (maybe a reason for the lateness) but after the one-two shot of the Scorps, we went into MSG territory with Assault Attack, Armed And Ready before Into The Arena was the first guitar showcase of the night with the three Germans locked in for the instrumental, before this was followed closely by Attack Of The Mad Axeman. There was then a huge chunk of UFO with Shoot Shoot, Only You Can Rock Me, Let It Roll, Too Hot To Handle and Lights Out providing a greatest hits of Schenker's former band unfortunately this run of successes, I am big UFO fan, was followed by The Scorpions' Holiday which is one of my least favourite songs ever but they followed it with Rock You Like A Hurricane (even though Michael was not in the band by this time) which gave Herman the German a chance to instigate some crowd participation and the closing shot of Rock Bottom which had another guitar showcase. It was the end of the main set and in the now relative dryness we were waiting for the encore and like a flash it came in the shape of Blackout and the evergreen Doctor Doctor which sent home the crowd very happy. This was an amazing run through of Schenker's career that kept the older gents and the newer fans happy, the quiet man of rock thanked the crowd and that was that a great end to a great weekend. 9/10

This was a very good weekend of rock music with two amazing headliners and lot of great bands throughout, it was a great warm up for some of the bigger summer festivals and I will definitely do all again next year! 

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