We’ll Be There: Steelhouse Festival (27-29 July)

Adding another summer festival to our coverage calendar is Steelhouse Festival 2018. With the vast majority of its line-up featuring on these pages over the years it’s about time we took the plunge… or should that be ascent?

In case you weren’t aware, Steelhouse is one of the most unique locales to host a UK festival. Forget your Catton Halls and your Donington race tracks, this one’s up a mountain in the south of Wales. Playing host to some of the best names in classic and modern rock, it’s one that’s grabbed my eye pretty much every year but somehow, they’ve managed to pull off their best line-up to date and I’m actually going to see it for myself.

With household names like Black Star Riders headlining amongst other top names like The Wildhearts, The Dead Daisies and The Quireboys, the festival makes sure the new breed get their deserved chance with acts such as Stone Broken, Those Damn Crows and Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics. But that’s not all, the festival are determined to give something unique to their bookings with the co-headliners on Saturday: Glenn Hughes plays a full set of Deep Purple classics before he takes it on tour later in the year, and Myles Kennedy brings a fully-plugged in electric show dubbed Myles Kennedy & Co. As one of only two UK shows (the other being London) after performing his extensive back catalogue acoustically, this is going to be a special one. As for who makes up his band right now, it’s anyone’s guess.

Bar prices have been frozen at 2017’s prices to keep the bar bill down for patrons. Elsewhere, the team have endeavoured to improve the access to the site by investing in improving the road up to the site stating:

We’re listening to you and whilst we can’t make the access road as smooth as a billiard table, we’re trying our hardest to make it a little less ‘exciting’. So, no small amount of investment has been sunk into drainage, stone and sweeping systems that will hopefully make your journey up to the site a little more comfortable.

Once you’re there, you’ll see that the position of the car parks have changed for the majority of vehicles. The change means a shorter drive and walk to campsite entry than ever before. Car parks will be enhanced with track way at entry and exit and ample on standby should the weather prove a little ‘inclement’!

As we make these improvements and after multiple calls from you lot to do so, we are implementing a £5 per vehicle parking charge for the whole weekend. Compared to other festival parking rates we think that’s pretty reasonable. All charges will go towards paying for the enhanced infrastructure and site works. Parking will be cash only to be paid upon arrival

Having already shifted more than 30 tonnes of loose stone from the road, it’s to be repurposed to fill in potholes and strengthen gateways and there are more updates to come.

There’s a sensible asking price for the entire weekend for the festival with days tickets priced at £60, weekend at £95 and an extra £20 for camping. Each of the headliners command ticket prices of roughly £30 so as value for money, you can’t go wrong. As well as that, the small charge of parking: Download is £20 in advance or £25 on the day for 5 days so this is a complete steal (I’ve not taken my car to other festivals so it’s my only context). And if you don’t fancy driving the car up, a cheap shuttle bus which will cost “a couple of quid” will get you there. There’s also a video on Steelhouse’s website showing the spectacular drive.

Having looked at the site map from last year, it looks like a nice, compact arena with one stage so there’s no clashes to worry about as well as your usual festival stalls – so expect fried food and trinkets. Pictures on Google definitely back up the idea of a good-sized stage but marries it with a sense of intimacy for the fans.

Elsewhere, it’s the usual list of dos and don’ts on their FAQ section: it’s the British summer time so wet weather gear is probably the first thing you should pack. No glass bottles, drugs and tidy up after yourself – the site is a working farm the rest of the year. Children are more than welcome but anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and those under 14 aren’t charged entry.

I’m really looking forward to my first Steelhouse and having read of so many people returning year on year, I’m certain I’ll fall into that category. As for who I’m most looking forward to seeing over the weekend, my picks aren’t all too surprising:

  • Myles Kennedy – with one of the best voices in rock today and the best living frontman, his solo tour earlier this year was a powerful evening so to have Alter Bridge, Slash, Mayfield Four and his solo material transformed into electric versions is going to be an excellent show.
  • The Quireboys – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen this band. They never fail to deliver and are sure to keep people entertained.
  • Black Star Riders – if it’s anything like last year’s Edinburgh show, Ricky Warwick, Scott Gorham and co. are going to be pulling out all the stops.
  • The Wildhearts – simply because they’re the only band on the bill I’ve not seen in some capacity.
  • Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics – ’nuff said.
  • Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons – another legend to feature on the bill, Phil Campbell’s lent his name to an energetic hard rock outfit that doesn’t simply re-hash Motörhead.

So, with just over five weeks to go, all that’s left to say is… we’ll see you up the mountain!

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