Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Steelhouse Festival, Day 2, Europe, The Answer, Bernie Marsden, 20/07/14

This is a festival which just gets better and better.  Not only that, but this year it was blessed with great weather, despite Met office warnings of the world ending in a violent storm on Saturday afternoon. Instead the only thunder and lightning was of a musical kind supplied by the great bands that delighted the good spirited crowds with classic hard rock over the 2 days at Hafod-y-Dafal Farm in Blaenau Gwent.

The friendly  family feel, the summer fayre collection of stalls, the deckchairs, in fact if you took the sound away (and the black t shirts) you could be in any country park in the UK. Instead it’s a collection of like minded folk enjoying the heavier side of rock in a well organised shindig which is rapidly gaining an excellent reputation amongst the festival going community.

Not only that, the price is right. Too many of us feel ripped off these days by extra fees and charges which simply fleece us. Here at the Steelhouse, the tickets are fairly priced £65 for 2 days, £40 for 1, £10 to camp. I paid £3.50 for a pint of local, real ale (Tudor Brewery), and it was good. When I bought my tickets at the gate with a credit card, the volunteer seemed almost embarrassed to charge me an administration fee of 25p (that’s twenty five pence, Ticketmaster are you reading? Answer – probably not).

Anyway onto the music. We only went on day 2, but the top three bands delivered in style.

Bernie Marsden 
Bernie Marsden is best known for his stint in Whitesnake pre their MTV days, but during that time they produced their best music, and that is what most of us wanted to hear here.

The set is below and it was a combination of firstly, blues based numbers, and then the sing-a-long early Whitesnake classics. Sometimes blues players can disappear up themselves. That didn’t happen here. Marsden is a fine player and he came across as humble and engaging and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his time in Wales.

Top of your World
Bad Sign

Just yo' Fooling
Black Pit

A Place in My Heart
Oh Well

Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City
What's Going On 

Fool for Your Loving
Here I Go Again

The Answer

Regular visitors to this blog will know how much I like The Answer. In fact, we saw them three times on one tour when they supported Whitesnake back in 2006, and my wife has seen them more than any other band.

Fresh from an appearance at Download at Donington Park, they enjoyed glorious sunshine for their set, although this wasn’t necessary for the enthusiastic crowd to appreciate such a talented band. Their latest album, New Horizon represents a true return to form.

Cormac - vocals

With a set mixing numbers from this, together with live staples such as Preachin’, The Answer know their game back to front and always get a warm welcome in a fellow Celtic country. Of course, no Answer show would be complete with Cormac getting into the crowd!

Micky - bass

Paul - guitar

James - drums

Cormac fronts up


Cormac getting down...

.... with the crowd

They are a true fans' band and, as they always do, stayed around for autographs and pictures.
Set list

Guitar Intro
Demon Eyes
New Horizon
Speak Now
Under the Sky
Never Too Late
Memphis Water
Come Follow Me
Comfort Zone

The Answer with a new fifth member on lead lecture and backing spreadsheets

Europe - Headliners

Pedigree, fame, a great frontman, a classic rock sound influenced by the best, all you need for a headline act, and that's what we got with Europe.

They may only be famous for 'that song' by most people in the pub, but they are about much, much more than that. Their albums over the last 10 years or so have demonstrated that they are a serious hard rock act, shaped by the past but living in the present. And much heavier than most people would imagine.

Joey Tempest - everything a rock frontman should be


- delighting the crowd

John Leven and Joey

In fact, the set list draws heavily on recent albums, especially Bag Of Bones, but of course, the best reception is reserved for the tracks from 'The Final Countdown' album, such as Carrie, as we all drift back to 1986.

Riches to Rags
Scream of Anger
No Stone Unturned
New Love in Town
Wasted Time 
Girl From Lebanon
Sign of the Times
Demon Head
The Beast
Rock the Night (incl. Budgie's Baby Please Don't Go)
Last Look at Eden
The Final Countdown

Joey with John Norum

Rock The Night

This is an extremely well-run and well organised small to medium sized festival. Will it ever be Download or Wacken? No, of course not, but that's not the point. It's a throwback to the days of lower cost and better value live music, having a beer in the sun, and enjoying the sounds. It really is well worth a visit.

All pics (c) I.Janes.
But if you want better photographs, do check out my friend NCR Photography Ltd, where professional pics are available to buy.

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