2013 sees the second Steelhouse Festival situated in one of the finest places on Gods Earth.....Wales! High on a mountain top on the edge of the Brecon Beacons (Aberbeeg), Steel House boasts the highest festival in Europe, and probably one of the nicest organised and atmospheric. For atmospheric, read torrential rain!

A great little site, with camping set aside for the usual nutters, and family area, complete with hot showers and toilet facilities with a host of food, and more importantly beer outlets

After a great evening in the sun and getting rat-arsed on the Friday night, the weather (rain ranging from drenching to the Welsh version of a Tsunami) totally kicked in and stayed there for the remainder of the event. First of all a couple of bands literally had their day in the sun...

First band up. Fireroad With their very infectious blend of blues and rock they certainly were a popular choice, voted onto the Fest by listeners to a Facebook & Twitter/YouTube Battle of the Bands competition. See, rock fans do do what they are talking about. With songs like Your Summer Sun which was Record of the Week on Radio Wales, and their new single and is a great slice of a driving rock tune. For some reason singer Richard Jones hates(Nah, detests) Before The Matinee and never wants to play it again. Don't worry, I'm sure that Axl feels the same way about 'Paradise'! Judging by the amount of nodding heads, Fireroad's objective was well and truly achieved.

With festivals its hard to please everyone and the mix can please everyone. That can be said for me with Dead Shed Jokers and Fighting Wolves. Not that there was anything wrong with them as the audience gave great responses. In the case of DSJ they were bit too indie for my liking, and FW were too shouty but that's just me I'm afraid.

In the case of Hand of Dimes, they were the first band to really make me sit up and take notice. A reunion of ex-members of Welsh cult AOR-sters Kooga. Singer Nev Macdonald has a voice that deserves to be heard on a wider scale, even more than his Skin following. With proper anthems, like Looking At You (one of the songs of the day), and Stranger In My Home Town, these guys got the first big roar of the day. Fantastic band, and even greater singer. I cant recommend this band enough

The Temperance Movement turned out to be one of the best new bands I've heard in quite some time. Think 'The Black Crowes' only better in my opinion, bloody better. In singer Phil Campbell, they have a bloke who is both mesmerizing and engaging, with a set of pipes to die for. Couple this with the rest of the guys and The Temperance Movement will be playing the like of arenas in no time. Songs like Know For Sure got the audience involved on a shite day, and the ban jam on mouldering was just wonderful. It doesn't stop there, Pride and Aint No Telling were just mesmerizing, and I for one didn't want them to end. For my mates (and no doubts many others) they were the hot band of the day. One word review....Wow!

Anvil were at the beginning of thrash, one of the founder members. Yes, others have come and left them running behind, and there's probably a good reason for that, but what they lack in quality of some of the songs, they make up in Goddamn enthusiasm, and in Robb Reiner they have one of the finest drummers of his generation - just watch him go on Swing Thing. Classics like Mothra, 666 and Metal on Metal were banded out along with newer songs like This is Thirteen, and Badass Rock n roll. Yes they are as corny as a tin of Jolly Green Giant, but they are well loved by the fanatical Welsh audience.

The few that know me are aware that FM are probably my fave band of the last 25 years. These reviews of theirs tend to write themselves. Only FM at this point could stop me from jacking it all in and going back to the car, or home, as I was as wet as a dolphins armpit and spirits were well and truly sodden. Steve Overland undoubdtedly has one of the best voices in the business, and when he warbles his 'whoa-oohs' women (and me to be honest) get goosebumps. Classic both quite old - That Girl, and I Belong To The Night, and new classics such as the magnificent Crosstown Train, and quite heavy for FM...Wildside, pair up extremely well and I think that FM are definitely in the best shape of their 26 year career. Whereas Magnum would be allowed an encore in the same slot on Sunday, for some reason FM didn't or weren't allowed to. Never mind, they are still THE finest at their craft in offering polished and well crafted songs. Catch them on Radio 2 and of course Planet Rock!

Headliners Saxon are a different proposition. One of the founders of the NWOBHM they tended to lose their way a bit in the 90s for no fault of their own I might add. On this evidence, Saxon were firing on all cylinders, and have years and miles left in the tank should they want to. The 'Eagle' got its first UK outing in 20 years, and even without all the lights, pyro, Saxon would have still kicked arse! Biff Byford, despite being a young 62 has a great a voice as he ever did, and he's spritely for his age! The new album, Sacrifice got some airing early one, but the icing for me was the latter half which was peppered with Metal anthems from Saxons great history. 747, Strong Arm Of The Law and a stunning blast of Dallas 1pm was the absolute highlight for me. Biff won the award for best into for a song..."This one's made of steel...and it's got fuckin' wheels on it!" Crusade, Denim and Leather and finally Princess of the Night made up the encore and it will stay with me for quite some time. And the whole thing was being filmed for 'The Saxon Chronicles 2'. My mate said that Saxon haven't done a bad gig in 30 years. Do you know what, he's spot on!

Day 2

Day 2 started off in a similar vein. Sunshine followed by bouts of intermittent monsoons. Again day 2 was kicked off by a band voted on by listeners to a Facebook & Twitter/YouTube Battle of the Bands competition. Blackbyrd hail from just down the road, and it must be something in the water, as singer Phil possesses a great set of pipes, much better than the songs you can find on their site, with their voted song, Day Of Reckoning the stand out track of their set and a nice sing-a-long from the fans to get the crowd warmed up. Apparently Phil has ditched the guitar to concentrate on his singing, and by the sound of him, its bloody well worked a treat. One to look out for methinks in the future

I've had the pleasure of witnessing Skam before, and boy have they gone up a notch since then. This was their very last gig in support of their debut (well worth 10 quid of anyone's money) and the Leicester 3 piece pulled out all the stops. Bassist Matt Gilmore deserves an extra special mention, as the guy is a bonafide nutcase on the bass. He pulls shapes, moves like a maniac, and when the road crew for the even start coming from behind to view from the side and laugh, clap, and smile, then you know you're onto a winner. Skam are destined for greater things I'm sure, and with songs about penises (Weapon), and anthems with killer hooks like Dead From The Waist Down (I think another song about penises), and a new belter called From The Bottom Up (I think there's a trend going on here guys!). Finishing the set with their best song Massacre, starting off with a dark Sabbath riff before kicking you in the nuts with such ferocity it feels like a 5 piece. I don't want to big them up but their meet n greet queue was about 5x the size of Anvil's (and about 50x of Schenker's). See I told you the Welsh fest revelers know a good band when they see one

I could have sworn that Trucker Diablo were Southern US rockers, but they have their roots planted in Northern Ireland, hopefully the deep south of N.I. Opener Rebel is as good as anything BSC have come up with, and is a powerful tour de force of an opener, getting the crowd well and truly on their side from the off. They possess a bit more oomph than BSC, and have a bit of raw power thrown in like Alter Bridge just for the fun of it. Whens It Gonna Rain is as equally a stunner as the opener, and new single Drive proves that TD are definitely on the way up in the world, and anyone that has a song like Drink, Beer, Destroy is a winner in my books, and just like The Temperance Movement they were one of the talked about bands of the day. No ballads to see here just out and out rock n roll. Trust me, go out and buy their latest album, it totally kicks arse

Vega are gaining a reputation as one up the new wave of melodic rock batton holders for the UK. Never one to shy away from an anthem, Bros Martin have their pens set to Def leppard Hysteria mode, and what with modern beauties like What The Hell, Back To Life and White Knuckle Ride, Vega set their phasers to stun mode. New guitarist Daniel Johanssen got a run out and fits in very nicely adding vocals to an already full on wall of sound. Nick works the crowd extremely well and is proving to be a really decent front man. Not a great deal to say other than spot on, and as good as ever!

Heaven's Basement are a completely different proposition to when I last saw them play my local in Wrexham a couple of few years back. I have to say it's a change for the better. Not so much polished now, as some of the set is like being repeatedly hit in the back of the head with a nail gun. In a good way of course! Here to promote (and batter us) with a set mainly from their latest album which is a belter by the way, as they proved with the furious opener Welcome Home. Throughout the course of the gig, singer Aaron Buchanan is an absolute livewire, think Tasmanian Devil only with a better singing voice. God only knows how he can keep up that noise and tempo for a full set. Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch (Ballad lads?) and the full on metal assault of I Am Electric really got the crowd buzzing. I hope they now get a settled line up as this one deserves its day in the sun.

It's like going from dark to light, from HB to Snakecharmer who, play a very different kind of music to the previous whippersnappers. Drawing on music from their debut and with some Whitesnake classics thrown in to boot, Messers Moody, Ousey, Murrayj James, Wisefield, and in for the day Stanway, they provide probably the most polished and classy set of the day. Ousey's voice is just something else, from such a small frame comes this soulful boom. Yes the fans really appreciate the new songs - Guilty as Charged, Accident Prone, Nothing To Lose etc, but its when the Whitesnake classics come in that they get truly excited and becomes a sea of a Welsh choir. Ready an Willing, Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues (this one in particular is a very nice version). Moody does his Steel Geetar solo, and its hardly changed since I first saw Whitesnake back in 82 (my first ever gig!). The best was saved until last, Slow an Easy, followed by a torrential downpour which saw a lot of the crowd vacate to the beer tent. But it made for one of the best moments of the weekend...when the intro played for Here I Go Again, the whole beer tent erupted and sang along as one, for one of those moments you will carry forever, before they finally finished with Fool For Your Lovin befire I retreated to my car to dry out for the third time today!!

Magnum at this point were running rather late. I used to be a fan in the 80s, but the reformed stuff of recent years has completely passed me by. Which is a shame, as I hardly knew the first half of the set. They obviously had a fair few fans of their own at the event as there was lots of singing along and people mimicking pointy Bob. If only he had a pound for every time he pointed, he'd be a multi millionaire! For me it was all about the classics, How far Jerusalem, running back from the bar for Vigilante, and they even managed to fit in an encore for Days Of No Trust and the underrated Rockin Chair. Years ago, they nearly broke away and became huge, but despite this, Magnum still put on a hell of a show.

Michael Schenker a few years ago couldn't probably get arrested. Whereas the last couple of years has seen a true return to form, tonight was the very last night of their extensive Temple Of Rock & Lovedrive Reunion tour, and bugger me, they weren't half on form. A fine line up consisting of Ex-Scorps Rarebell and Bucholz, and multi instrumentalist Wayne Findlay and Doogie White. No messing around from the guys, straight into Lovedrive with White proving to be a fine replacement for Mogg, Meine and Barden. All previous Schenker bands were included - Scorpions, MSG, UFO, and even a couple of songs from the current line up - a tribute to Ronnie James Dio in Before The Devil Knows Your Name. I was never a massive UFO fan, my fave album is The Wild The Willing & The Innocent, so I suppose I don't count as a UFO officionado at all. The classic UFO songbook was played, Shoot, Shoot, Only You..., Let It Roll, Too Hot..., Lights Out, and Rock Bottom. Obviously they hit the spot with the 2 blokes next to me as they both went mental. Me, I loved the instrumental renditions of Coast to Coast and Into The Arena, and a couple of MSG classics such as Armed & Ready and Attack Of The Mad Axeman which I haven't heard live in almost 30 years!! Shit dudes, they even played the MSG underrated Assault Attack. Unlike Saxon, there was no frills, lights, pyro, just full on rock classics spanning a total of 30-odd years. Long may he continue to play, because it was fan-fuckin-tastic! Next tome Michael please dig out Captain Nemo

So, two great days spent with a great bunch of people, met friends, made some new ones, and, despite the shite weather I cant wait until the next one. Despite missing my 2nd wedding anniversary on the trot (23 yrs - O think its Ker-plunk for 23??) Im still married. Sarah, Sally-Ann can I suggest a weekend either side of this next year please??

Despite the weather the organisers deserve a big pat on the back for putting on a great set of bands and organising the best festival I've attended in yonks! Long may Steelhouse continue