Thunder, Thin Lizzy, Uriah Heep and more donned their boots to climb the mountain for Steelhouse Festival in south Wales this weekend. Taking place in the stunning surroundings of the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons from Fri 26th – Sun 28th July 2019, this year’s event was topped by the appearance of uncharacteristically glorious weather.
Celebrating a nine year run, the event that began in 2011 saw some of rock’s most well-known names in rock join the roster, for the event which Thunder’s Danny Bowes praised for its’ special atmosphere.
Kicking off proper on Saturday 27th July following a warm up the previous night which featured a riveting set from revivalists Massive Wagons, the Planet Rock-endorsed fest got under way to the sounds of riff mongers Crowbot, and Scottish blues rockers The Temperance Movement who shone in the early evening sun.
Celebrating their 30th anniversary, Gun performed a string of hit singles including ‘Steal Your Fire’, ‘Word Up’, and ‘Better Days’, before lifting the crowd with their explosive cover of Beastie Boys’ ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)’.
It may have been one of the highlights of the day, however it was Thunder’s barnstorming headlining set that rightly stole the show. Greeting the crowd, singer Bowes quipped; “So, how are you? Are you all ok? Have to you had a nice weekend so far?”, before adding; “You’re Welsh, you can sing, can’t you? Let's test it and find out”, in time for an entirely appropriate – given the 1,000+ ft elevation of the location– ‘Higher Ground’.
Going on to blast through thirty years of hits from right across their catalogue, the atmosphere reached its’ feel-good peak with party anthem ‘Gimmie Some Lovin’. Signing off, Danny summed up the day, saying; “There’s very few places that we come to that have an atmosphere that's as good as this”.
Sunday then brought out another day of outstanding weather, great music, and fun, with Tax the Heat, Danko Jones, Living Colour and Uriah Heep propping up a bill headed by a very special set from Thin Lizzy.
With yet another band preparing to celebrate a significant milestone - this time of an incredible fifty years on the road - Uriah Heep’s mid-afternoon set proved just why the band have endured for so long. Mixing up the old - including a simply stunning rendition of ‘July Morning’ - with tracks from their latest ‘Living The Dream’ release, Bernie Shaw, Mick Box and co. effortlessly proved one of the weekend’s favourite acts.
Inexplicably coming on after a band of such stature, even singer Corey Clover questioned the wisdom of having Living Colour follow Uriah Heep. With one time Whitesnake man Bernie Marsden [Ed: Surely this is the greatest number of Bernies ever to grace the same stage at a festival?!] joining the New Yorkers for a run through Cream’s ‘Sunshine of your Love’, and the front man spontaneously diving into the crowd for an walk around, theirs too proved memorable for all the right reasons.
It was however, left to Thin Lizzy to close out the festival, performing the whole of their 1979 ‘Black Rose’ album in full. A special one-off event, singer Ricky Warwick noted the personal nature of the evening, reminiscing; “My sister bought me this album and it changed my life. I want to tell you what a privilege it is to play this for you”.
Going on to thank creators Phil Lynott, Brian Downey, Gary Moore, and the man to his left, guitarist Scott Gorham, Warwick continued; “Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time ever, this is ‘Black Rose’ in its’ entirety.”
Kicking off with ‘Do anything You Want To’, Ricky and co blasted through the album in rapid fire succession, even name-checking the band that had come before them, with Ricky ad libbing “Elvis is dead… just like Living Colour said” during the opener.
Going on to perform a number of rarities including a funky ‘S&M’, a defiant ‘Toughest Street in Town’, and a tuneful ‘With Love’, the band rounded out their set with highlights from the Lizzy songbook.
Signing off, Ricky noted; “This is a very special festival. The love and care and compassion that's put into it is so special”.
Steelhouse Festival is set to return in 2020 for its 10th anniversary celebrations. Early bird tickets are available now, with the first 1000 printed as a commemorative, beautifully designed wonka-style souvenir. In addition, the first 1000 purchases will also be entered into various special Steelhouse 2020 prize draws throughout the year for the chance to win money can’t buy items and experiences. For more details, and ticketing, visit www.steelhousefestival.com.
Stay tuned for eonmusic's chats with Gun and Uriah Heep from Steelhouse.
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