LIVE: Steel Panther – O2 Apollo Manchester, 24/01/2018
January is notorious for being a depressing month. After the usual Christmas carnage and seasonal overindulgence, people are usually left with severely depleted bank balances and a sinking feeling that the cold dark nights of winter will never end. So what better way to break the misery than a gig with America’s greatest cock-rock comedy collective, Steel Panther! Coming on the back of 2017’s album, Lower The Bar, the profane four piece have started this year with a 19 date jaunt through the UK and Europe.
Opening up tonight’s show in Manchester is Wayward Sons, a new band fronted by Toby Jepson of Little Angels fame. Featuring a straight ahead hard rock sound, the Sons know what they are here to do and they do it well. With only one album under their belt, there’s still a lot more to come in the future from these guys.
After a swift turnaround, it’s Inglorious’ turn on stage. Fronted by Nathan James, a big man with a big voice, Inglorious waste no time in doling out the heavy riffs. While each of the band handles their instruments with aplomb, the feature point of this band truly is James’ powerful vocals. Planted firmly in the classic rock genre with added soul for flavour, it’s hard to not be drawn in when he sings. Definitely a band worth checking out if they’re playing near you.
And then it’s on to tonight’s main course. Steel Panther have made quite a name for themselves as the world’s premier 80s glam cock-rock, piss-take throwback band, and this is proven tonight with a sold out Apollo crowd. The intro tape for the show is Van Halen’s Everybody Wants Some, which is appropriate as I’m pretty sure everyone in the venue did want some, but also that David Lee Roth could literally be the father of all the members of Steel Panther (paternity test results currently pending). Eyes of a Panther kicks off the set proper, and if you know anything about this band, you know how it goes. Massive hair, spandex-clad hip thrusts and more gurning than one could think humanly possible. Goin’ in the Backdoor is the first song off the most recent album to get an airing, but it’s after this track that things get problematic.
Steel Panther are a comedy band, that’s well established. Their act is firmly tongue in cheek and nothing is to be taken seriously. But after two songs at a sold out venue, guitarist Satchel, for some ungodly reason, begins a quite bizarre speech talking about how he got together with singer Michael Starr after he found him in an orgy with a dog; about how he loves titties and imploring the girls present to show him theirs; and then, most bizarrely, pointing out a 7 year old kid in the crowd that they knew and wondering about “the amount of pussy they were going to get in the future”. This went on for well over ten minutes and it seemed that the other members of the band were about as convinced of this performance piece as some of the audience, a couple of whom I saw heading for the front door. Mercifully, Satchel managed to drag himself out of this mire, introduce the rest of the band, and get back to playing songs about Asian prostitutes.
The highlight of the night, in my opinion, was a retrospective cover medley of classic tracks like Breaking The Law, Rock You Like A Hurricane and The Trooper. And this kind of sums up the night for me. The band are all really talented, know how to write a catchy song and can create some really snappy, funny moments, but 90 minutes of non-stop “jokes” about fucking, gloryholes and sluts does tend to grate on the senses. Add to this the fact that it’s more or less the same show they toured in late 2016, complete with the same gags and routines, and you come to realise that this is a band best enjoyed when you don’t delve too deep into their modus operandi, but just pull on your best lycra and bandanas, have a few (many) beers and pretend like it’s 1980s LA all over again.
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