STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL 2018 Day 1 - Ebbw Vale 27.07.18
PHOTO CREDITS: MORAG FARLEY PHOTOGRAPHY
Returning for its 8th consecutive year, the Steelhouse Festival has become known as one of the friendliest festivals in the UK, if not Europe. Set in its unique location, on a mountain top at the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the faithful team of volunteers give their time, blood, sweat and tears to build it. Despite weeks of hot, dry conditions the weather gods decided to test the festival once again.
The honour of opening the festival fell to Fragile Things, who won the battle of the bands competition this year. Holding nothing back, they launched into tracks from their EP ‘Echo Chambers’ with their riff filled, bass heavy rock. The Bristol based four piece cementing the reason why the festival organisers had chosen them to open proceedings.
Fragile Things are:
Richie Hevanz - Vocals
Mark Hanlon - Guitar
Hugo Bowman - Drums
Steve Lathwell - Bass
Next up were Departed, who we’ve seen before but not on a stage of this size, and wow did it suit them, Mark Pascall covering almost ever inch of it. Matt Chalk having recently taken over behind the drums has fitted in perfectly and when combined with Howie’s bass they are a formidable rhythm section. The complexity of Ben Brookland’s guitar work and Mark’s brilliant vocals and stage presence topped off the set and won over many new fans
Mark Pascall - Vocals
Ben Brookland - Guitar
Matt Chalk - Drums
Howie Spring - Bass
Local legend Phil Campbell and The Bastard Sons were next to grace the stage, the anticipation for this set was palpable. The arena was full, the fullest that the opening night of the Steelhouse Festival has ever been, so much so that the beer tent was struggling to keep up with demand. The band take their places to applause and when the man himself walked on if there was a roof it would have lifted with the sheer volume of cheers. Hitting the ground running with their intense and energetic style they got the crowd dancing and singing, playing a mix of tracks of their recently released album ‘The Age Of Absurdity’ and a great mix of classic Motörhead tracks. ‘Born to Raise Hell’ resonated across the South Wales valleys with the combined voices of the thousands of fans helping out Neil Starr, who is a frontman who can bend the crowd to his will.
A wonderful touch from Phil Campbell of dedicating ‘Silver Machine’ to the members of Motörhead who are no longer with us and finishing off with ‘Ace of Spades’ the crowd just went wild. Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons first visit to the mountain was pure class, surely this won’t be their last.
Phil Campbell - Guitar
Neil Starr - Vocals
Todd Campbell - Guitar
Tyla Campbell - Bass
Dane Campbell - Drums
Returning to the mountain after such an impressive debut last year, Stone Broken headline the opening night. The Walsall based 4 piece had hinted at something different for this performance and hundreds of music fans had surged forward towards the stage to catch one of their last U.K shows before they hit the U.S. Robyn (Drums) is spotted by the crowd as she takes her place and the cheers begin, Chris Davis and Kieron Conroy join her and then, as the intro music finishes, Rich Moss runs onto the stage and they rip into the the first track ‘Heartbeat Away’ and the crowd erupt. Stone Broken have a huge fan base and from the number of t-shirts on show it seemed that most of them were here.
From the first track to the last the ‘Broken Army’ sang back every word, which still always appears to surprise the band. They gave the huge crowd a balanced set from their two albums ‘All in Time’ and ‘Ain’t Always Easy’, with Moss taking time between tracks to interact with the crowd. As usual, he is humbled by the response, even giving a wedding anniversary shout out to a couple in the crowd.
Mid set, Moss hands off his guitar and the crew wheel out a keyboard and admitting that this is the first time they’ve played this track in this way, and looking a little nervous, begins the familiar but completely different intro to ‘Anyone’. I admit that I’ve seen these guys play more than once but they have a genuine knack of raising their game when they need to and tonight was one of those times. The applause following the reworked version was huge, as he retakes his guitar and picks up the tempo again, and the crowd oblige on backing vocals.
Their set seemed to fly by and before we know it Moss says that they won’t be doing the usual encore break and say that they’ll just keep playing. In an extremely touching and emotional tribute to Mike James, a long time fan of the band who lost his fight against cancer earlier in the year, his last Stone Broken show was last years Steelhouse and they dedicated ‘Wait For You’ to him with his image on the stage display screens.
Finally wrapping up with ‘Not Your Enemy’ which, from the volume of the crowd’s singing, could have possibly been heard in their home town. To rapturous applause from the thousands in the arena Stone Broken took their bow and thanked everyone for their support.
Day 1 was complete and what a way to start a festival.
Rich Moss - Guitar/Vocals/Keyboards
Robyn Haycocks - Drums / vocals
Chris Davis - Guitar
Kieron Conroy - Bass
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