Steel Panther infects London (not that London, the other one)

Live/Concerts

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Glam-rockers Steel Panther have found themselves in a unique position where they hold the place of bands they once parodied and paid homage to. The band’s career mirrors the words of Mötley Crüe’s Kickstart My Heart, “When we started this band all we needed was a laugh. Years gone by, I’d say we kicked some a**.” Having previously opened for established bands like KISS and Judas Priest, Steel Panther is now more than capable of selling tickets on their own and that’s just what they did at the London Music Hall on Monday night. No, not that London. The Canadian town of London, Ontario.

“I’m going to smack the botox off your face,” says Satchel, Steel Panther’s brown-haired guitar virtuoso, as he glares at the band’s pink-clad bassist Lexxi Foxx.

That’s the essence of Steel Panther right there. If you don’t enjoy enjoy insults, political incorrectness, lewd acts and steady doses of Van Halen — get out. If it looks as if the sunset-strip Hair-Metallers are constantly touring, it’s only because they are. Fresh off Live From Lexxi’s Mom and an New-Zealand-Australia tour, the band are squeezing Canada by the balls before an impending 3 month-long tour of Europe (or European, as Lexxi calls it) and a brand-new album due later this year.

Steel Panther is no nostalgia trip. At least, not on this particular night. The crowd for the most part, looks to young to relieve the era of spandex, pooffy hair and big riffs. Prior to the show, Ratt’s Round and Round and Gypsy Road by Cinderella are blasting through loud speakers only to be met with little to no reaction. This is not a “Hair-Metal” crowd, per se.

There were very little amount of leopard print items to be found in the Canadian audience — they’re simply here to have their faces rocked like hurricanes. I lost count of how many Megadeth shirt I saw in the audience on this night. By contrast I observed exactly one wig-wearing Panther-lite individual (with zebra-spandex, of course). This was a heavy metal crowd and Steel Panther is some sort metal.

Charismatic frontman Michael Starr channels 50 shades of David Lee Roth. Starr is one of the rare metal singers who sounds as good live as he does in the studio. Court jester extraordinaire Satchel, formerly of Rob Halford’s Two breathes some life to the term “guitar hero”, mostly absent in the past decade. Bassist Lexxi Foxx, who tries his best to look like a glammed-up peacock, spends the evening pouting and touching-up his makeup in his mirror to the point where playing the bass is secondary. Aside from a gag involving his name, Stix Zadinia looks a little more quiet behind his drums, although it might be only because he’s busy providing the backbeat of the band’s sound.

Steel Panther played a 16-song set filled with the only the sleaziest songs from it’s catalogue —minus That’s When You Came In— the way it should be. There’s a only a small sample of the band’s latest album, All You Can Eat, the band choosing instead to rely on road-tested material from their first two studio albums Feel The Steel and Balls Out. Kicking off with Eyes of the Panther —perhaps the only “serious” song in their unique repertoire— the momentum never waivers.

From favourites like the sexist Fat Girl (Thar She Blows) to the racy matter in Asian Hooker bypassing the misogynistic number 17 Girls ln A Row, there is truly something to offend each and every one of your neighbour. The loudest reactions come during the ballads Community Property and Oklahoma Girl proving that while power-ballads may get a bad rap, in some settings they thrive. In what is clearly a touching moment during the band’s most popular song, Community Property, no Fanther in the audience can keep a straight face singing the lyrics like lead singer Michael Starr can and that’s strangely endearing.

Most of the comedy in the show is new, some is obviously recycled from the past such as this nugget (previously heard at Toronto’s Sound Academy a little over a year ago) : “[this girl] is of legal age, which is 13 years-old in Ontario,” says Satchel. “I know because I checked on Wikipedia.”

Or the fan-favourite (again from Sound the Academy but two years ago this time) : “How about we lock the doors and play until 6 AM?”

After witnessing the Panthers live a grand total of four times, it was somewhat of a shock to see the action on stage slightly toned down this time around. Unsubtle innuendos and sex jokes are still a part of the band’s ever-expending repertoire. Girls are still invited on stage. However, in London there is little of the usual “shows us your t***” that comes with the territory of a Steel Panther concert. The girls onstage remained clothed and surprisingly, well-behaved.

Steel Panther knows how to put on a show, there’s not denying that. They’re fun, exciting and fascinating to watch. It’s impossible to look away when the Sunset Strip rockers take over the stage. The problem with putting on the best show possible for the fans is it requires a certain portion of the show to be choreographed. However, this time it seemed a little too planned. In fact, Satchel was wearing the exact same clothes as when l saw the band last year! Hair-Metal sin? You decide.

Let’s hope next time they visit Steel Panther bring fresh jokes and mix things up a little.

***.1/2 /*****
Setlist:

Eyes of a Panther
Tomorrow Night
Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)
Just Like Tiger Woods
Play Video
Let Me Cum In
Asian Hooker
Gold Digging Whore
Satchel Guitar Solo
Ten Strikes You’re Out
Girl From Oklahoma
17 Girls in a Row
Gloryhole
Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’
Death to All but Metal

Encore:
Community Property
Party All Day (Fuck All Night)

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