Steelhouse Festival 2023 – Saturday. Following on from earlier in the day, Canadians, The Damn Truth, made quite an entrance. As Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit reaches its climax, the four members of the band race out to a huge cheer.
Steelhouse Festival 2023 – Saturday
The Damn Truth
It’s an interesting set. Lead singer Lee-La Baum strides down the walkway, taking in the adulation. It’s assured and confident, with songs drawn from their three albums, including their most recent release, Now Or Nowhere.
Baum channels her inner Joplin a lot whilst the whole band indulges in extravagant posturing. None more so than guitarist Tom Shemer, who spends much of the show at the end of the walkway.
It’s a throwback to the days of peace and love, and the crowd soak it up.
Finishing their UK tour shortly, the band will be back with Glenn Hughes in the autumn.
Whilst international acts make the festival, having two South Walian bands towards the top of the bill certainly brings in the punters. As the day progresses, the number of shirts of Florence Black and Those Damn Crows increases exponentially.
It’s Merthyr trio Florence Black who send us racing into the evening with a robust but slightly underwhelming set. Whether it’s the sound issues, Tristan Thomas’s rough vocals, or tiredness after nonstop touring, one can’t be sure.
They inspire mosh pits, something rarely seen here (not all approve, by the way) and play a pleasing set of classics.
The new single Start Again is now an old friend. Zulu and Black Cat raise the levels, and being Wales, Breadfan is received with warmth.
It’s evident that album number two is going to be a huge moment in their journey. Six years since they last played here, it is still a moment of triumph in a year of incredible highs.
Those Damn Crows
If 2023 has been a good year for Florence Black, it’s been something meteoric for Bridgend’s Those Damn Crows. A top-five album with Inhale Exhale, a triumphant sold-out show at Swansea Arena and big tour supports with the Goo Goo Dolls alongside a European trip opening from The Hollywood Vampires.
It’s all been a bit good.
But for all that, the boys are most comfortable in front of their own, and this was almost the headline set I had predicted a couple of years ago.
Cheered on by thousands of the Crow Family and led by the ever-moving Shane Greenhall, Those Damn Crows delivered a sparkling set that didn’t disappoint.
Anthem after anthem rocked the mountain with a slickness that only comes from relentless touring. By the time See You Again had finished, there was only applause, cheers, and smiles.
The Crows had come home. And triumphed. Again.
I’ll give you a fiver if they aren’t headlining next year.
But the best was yet to come, and if the crowd had thinned ever so slightly after the Crows, it wasn’t noticed. Aussies Airbourne roared onto the stage and delivered a masterclass on how to headline a festival.
For 90 minutes, they simply ruled the mountain. Heavy, loud, and rolling thunder, their explosive style of no-nonsense hard rock anthems saw pits open, and Joel O’Keefe run through the usual party pieces.
Unconstrained by his injured right foot, he was carried through the crowd, cracking beers open on his head, racing around the stage, climbing the speakers, and, of course, handing out jack and cokes from Lemmy’s Bar.
It may be great fun, slightly cliched, but Airbourne have the rockers to accompany the party. From opener Ready To Rock, the ridiculous Girls In Black, the specially placed Steel Town and the evening closer Runnin’ Wild, Airbourne are full of festival tunes.
For Steel Town, it was, ironically, the 100th anniversary of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, built with steel from Ebbw Vale, as noted by Joel.
With a blazing light show and a stack of Marshall amps, it was a show to savour. Despite the Crow’s best efforts, Saturday belonged to the Aussies.
Steelhouse Festival 2023 was held over the weekend of 28-30 July 2023. MetalTalk’s Paul Hutchings reports from Ebbw Vale.
Early Bird tickets are available for next year’s festival, which begins on Friday, 26 July 2024. Tickets are available from here.
All MetalTalk Steelhouse Festival 2023 coverage can be found at https://www.metaltalk.net/tag/steelhouse-festival-2023