STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL 2019 – DAY 3 - Ebbw Vale, Wales 28.07.19



Sunday dawned sunny and dry – a STEELHOUSE record of three days in a row and it ensured everyone came into the final day with a smile on their face – despite any hangovers or lack of sleep!

WILLE AND THE BANDITS are another band that are gaining more and more fans everywhere they go. STEELHOUSE is no exception and for many they are the find of the festival. They play a number of tracks from their latest album ‘Paths’ starting with ‘Victim of the Night’. The sound has improved vastly from yesterday and the quality of musicianship can be heard from each player. Interesting use of the bass guitar and drums makes them quirky and unique; it’s a good start to the day and a huge hit with the crowd.

It’s the first time I’ve seen the merged bands of THE AMORETTES and TEQUILA MOCKINGBYRD and to me I don’t think they’ve quite settled wholly into the new band yet. All credit to the girls though for choosing to honour bookings for both bands – even if that did mean a round trip from England to Switzerland, via Germany in the days immediately prior to getting to Ebbw Vale.

This was, however, an AMORETTES gig so they stuck with an AMORETTES set list, opening with the album title track ‘Born to Break’ – along with a few more tracks from that last release - and ending with the brilliant ‘Everything I Learned (I Learned from Rock and Roll)’. It’s a solid enough set and the audience are very appreciative but I can sense that there will be better to come once they feel more comfortable with their new identity and can pick the best songs from both back catalogues – as well as write and play new material.

TAX THE HEAT are not your usual rock band. They don’t look like a standard rock band and to an extent they don’t sound like one, but personally I love it. I would describe them as strong and confident, with a thoroughly modern yet classic sound.

Despite not having played together for a while, they easily slip back into the groove and yet again I recognise nearly everything that they play. They begin with ‘Change Your Position’ and include ‘Animals’, ‘Cut Your Chains’, ‘All That Medicine’ and ‘Fed to the Lions’. It’s an upbeat performance and creates the first of many musical changes to the day with a different feel and a slice of the unusual.

You can feel the life force emanating from DANKO JONES as soon as he steps on stage. He is loud and brash – and I’m not just talking about the music! This is straightforward rock and roll with no messing and he starts with ‘I Gotta Rock’, the first track from the 2017 album ‘Wild Cat’.

After the third track, the photographers all start to leave the pit – and he has a cheeky go at them for going and invites them to stay in for the rest of the set as “the best is yet to come”! His banter is entertaining and at one point he dedicates a guitar solo to the crowd – after it has gone wrong – although I doubt that anyone has noticed. He storms through the set and ends with ‘My Little RnR’, the second track from ‘Wild Cat’. Great fun and a memorable performance.

URIAH HEEP have a big crowd waiting for them. They start with a new track ‘Grazed by Heaven’. I am fairly unfamiliar with their music so I don’t really recognise very much of it. It seems pretty impressive though and someone turns to me and states that it’s one of the best live performances he’s ever seen. Praise indeed as he is no stranger to the gig scene. They finish with their well-known 1972 track ‘Easy Livin’ to rapturous applause.

LIVING COLOUR is a change of mood and tempo again, but are beset with technical problems which means a stilted and slightly jarring performance. I quite enjoy the groove and confess to a bit of a dance to the funky sounds, but am not surprised that they are not to the taste of everyone. Whitesnake legend BERNIE MARSDEN joins them on stage for a rendition of Cream’s ‘Sunshine of your Love’, which he seems to enjoy, as do all of those watching. They finish with ‘Cult of Personality’, their 30+ year old hit from the late 80’s.

It’s nearly the end of the weekend and despite everyone’s drunkenness or exhaustion, there’s still a very enthusiastic crowd waiting for THIN LIZZY to come on stage.

Sirens wail and the anticipation grows as the band emerge to play ‘Jailbreak’. It’s a magnificent start and they hardly draw breath between the first few tracks. Three THIN LIZZY branded floor standing tom-tom drums are brought out and placed in front of Ricky Warwick, Scott Gorham and Damon Johnson. It’s a great sight as they all play along in perfect sync to the beginning of ‘Do Anything You Want To’ and then the drums are whisked away as they take up their instruments.

They then take us through the rest of the album ‘Black Rose’ - celebrating its 40th anniversary this year – including classic tracks ‘Waiting For An Alibi’ and ‘My Sarah’. After the album has been covered they go back to the “standards”, including ‘Rosalie’, ‘Emerald‘ and ‘The Boys are Back in Town’. The crowd love it and the band depart. They come back for a full-on encore of ‘Whiskey in the Jar’. A brilliant way to finish the day.

And so Steelhouse 2019 comes to an end. The weather has been fantastic and the music has been superb. I’m already looking forward to 2020 (but fully expecting a return to the usual climate) !