Live Review: Steel Panther

24 October 2022 | 1:27 pm | Andy Hazel

“The next pandemic is gonorrhoea, and it starts with this guy right here.”

Photo Credit: Barry C. Douglas

Photo Credit: Barry C. Douglas

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Sometimes a music reviewer needs to set aside their critical faculties and simply relay a series of events. Tonight’s performance by the satirical American hair metal band Steel Panther is one of those times. 

The four-piece opened their set with Goin' in the Backdoor and Tomorrow Night and played some of their best-known songs, All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight), Poontang Boomerang, as well as their new single Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight). Much of the set was given over to comedic commentary. Examples include Satchel’s statement, “The next pandemic is gonorrhoea, and it starts with this guy right here,” while pointing at singer Michael Starr, Starr’s impersonation of Ozzy Osbourne, bumbling around the stage and needing the Heimlich manoeuvre after choking on the head of a fake bat, drummer Stix Zadinia’s hapless shrug after Satchel’s disclosure of his erectile dysfunction and bassist Spyder’s role as the butt of jokes about being new to the band. Both songs and banter were appreciated by the crowd, and it is here that I feel the need to simply disclose facts. It’s how some members of the crowd showed their appreciation that could tie a pseudo-sociologist in knots. When one member of the crowd volunteers to personify Asian Hooker, the crowd cheers as Starr goes on his knees before her to sing, “sucky fucky smells like sushi”. Later, when another woman takes a seat on stage and Spyder’s plea, “I really really really really want to see those titties” is rewarded, it’s hard not to think about agency and who has what power in this situation. But she laughs, the band do their mock “OMG Boobies!” faces like the horny teenagers these guys in their fifties most definitely are not, the crowd cheers, and she nails the hook to one of Steel Panther’s more notable odes to anal sex, Weenie Ride

After a solo set from Satchel in which he links dozens of iconic metal riffs in some kind of guitar shop employee nightmare, Starr invites dozens of women to the stage. Soon, they are in various stages of undress, and band members are struggling to express just how great they think the bouncing breasts suddenly surrounding them are that it becomes something approximating a sex-positive party. When some of those women start interacting, taking the show from a M to an R rating, and Starr says, “well, this is great, but I don’t see any vaginas”, and...cue vaginas, you can only imagine how horrified the venue’s namesake, noted arch-conservative Margaret Court would be, and laugh. Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World, 17 Girls in a Row and Death to All But Metal are raucous anthems that give the band the chance to show how much musical and song writing talent lies under all the hair and makeup, but once the women leave, they really can’t be followed. They try, with an encore of Community Property and Gloryhole, but the energy levels drop and as they group together at the front of the stage, just for a moment, you can see just how much energy a show like this takes.

Energy levels are not a problem for the night’s opening act, local hard rock icons Airbourne. After spending most of the year overseas and with a rare opportunity to play a venue the size of their production, from the opening minutes, it was hard to think of this as anything except a headliner in full force. In front of their own massive flag, a wall of Marshall stacks, a busy light show, explosions of flames, sparks and dry ice and the songs to back all this up, this is hard rock theatre of the highest order. Singer Joel O'Keeffe has so much energy to share that to express it, he must simultaneously crowd surf while running Angus Young-style, play a guitar solo and open a can of beer by smashing it against his head. As black t-shirts and cans of Canadian Club fly through the air, it’s hard to imagine a sound bigger than O’Keeffe’s astonishing falsetto cresting over the band’s smashing cymbals and savaged guitars as they bring Breakin' Outta Hell to a deafening close. After asking the security to allow crowd surfing and tribute to Lemmy Kilmister, It’s All for Rock and Roll, O'Keeffe baptises us all in VB by throwing red cups of the stuff into the crowd, giving the extremely honed band a moment to catch their breath. The NWOBHM-heavy riffage of Runnin’ Wild sees the crowd lose it all over again, bringing the show to a shuddering, howling close. A triumph.