Wednesday night in Glasgow and costume shop owners for miles around are counting up their takings after a bumper day, having sold out of dodgy nylon wigs and animal print spandex. Steel Panther are once again back in town!
The fact that the spandex is then stretched over huge backsides and beer guts all adds to the fun nature of a Steel Panther gig. It is socially acceptable in this company to proudly profess your love of all things associated with 80’s hair metal.
Big hair, spandex, make up and the odd studded gauntlet are all worn as a badge of honour by Fanthers ‘who were there man’ and those who wish they had been.
This gig was originally scheduled to take place at the smaller Barrowlands venue, but was upgraded when it sold out very quickly. The fact that the Academy also had the ‘Sold Out’ signs up is testament to the continual rise of Steel Panther. In some camps Panther are still regarded as a bit of a joke, but a sold out European tour and a steady climb up various festival bills suggests otherwise.
Opening proceedings tonight were New York rockers The Cringe. This is the band’s first trip to the UK in support of their fourth album, ‘ Hiding In Plain Sight’, which is about to be released on this side of the pond. The band play a fine grungy alt-rock with mainman John Cusimano trying to whip up the crowd from the off by saying the band ‘love Scotland and Scotch’. The band though faced a bit of an uphill struggle to win over the Panther crowd.
The band sound like a mix of the Foo Fighters and QOTSA and on another bill the guys may have had an easier task. However as the set progressed so the crowd reaction and appreciation rose. As well as Cusimano’s infectious enthusiasm the musicianship on show impressed, especially the guitar work of James Rotondi , which also got the crowd on side.
By the time the guys reached their final number and Cusimano had taken to the crowd for a bit of a surf, the audience had warmed up nicely and had also warmed to the band. They left the stage to appreciative applause rather than resounding cheers, but I think the guys can view it as a job well done and hopefully a few of the, by now, capacity crowd will search out the album once released.
After The Cringe left the stage the party atmosphere was pumped to the max with the PA belting out 80’s classics from Crue, Whitesnake, Cinderella and more. As the lights dimmed, the volume increased and Maiden’s ‘Number Of The Beast’ heralded the arrival of Steel Panther. Hidden behind a curtain the band kicked into ‘Eyes Of A Panther’ and as the curtain dropped all hell broke loose.
‘Tomorrow Night’ was up next with an extended outro at the end, including band introductions and some classic lines from Michael Starr and Satchel. You could best describe a Panther show as a mix of a rock show, a pantomime and a stand-up comedy routine, above all though it is bloody good fun.
The show production has been moved up a notch this time around with the stage dominated by a large rear video screen which was used to good effect throughout the show. The video which accompanied ‘Asian Hooker’ was definitely not for the prudish as was the cartoon take on ‘Turn Out The Lights’, but by now surely everyone should know what to expect.
The one thing that may still surprise, especially those who haven’t yet witnessed the band live, is just how good they are. They may well play it for laughs but they are all seriously good musicians which, in my opinion, is the secret to their success. Behind the knob jokes and lewd lyrics there is a tight metal band who have years of experience and who can cut it live.
With new album ‘All You Can Eat’ about to be released it would have been amiss not to include a few tracks. The two lead tracks ‘ Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World’ and ‘The Burden Of Being Wonderful’ went down a storm and were accompanied by the promo videos on the back screen. For me though the other new track aired, ‘Gloryhole’, was the best of the bunch with a driving bassline provided by Stix and Lexxi. This song is set to become a live favourite.
The rest of the set was culled from ‘Feel The Steel’ and ‘Balls Out’ and featured crowd participation throughout. Towards the end of the main set the band invited women from the audience up on stage, with banter aplenty, before playing ‘Gold Digging Whore’, ‘It Won’t Suck Itself’ and rounding off with the anthem ‘ Death To All But Metal’.
After the stage was finally cleared Michael Starr reappeared and started singing the first line of the epic ‘Community Property’ before the crowd took over on vocals, everyone word perfect. The rest of the band then re-emerged to finish the song which I think would have been the highlight of the night for many. Then with confetti cannons blasting and Michael firing his confetti gun, ’17 Girls In A Row’ and ‘Party All Day’ finished off another highly entertaining show.
Steel Panther proved once again that they are a band who deserve to have the level of success they are currently enjoying. If it was all shock and no substance the joke may well have worn thin by now but ultimately the music shines through. As the sweat soaked and smiling crowd headed for the exits spontaneous bursts of ‘Party All Day’ were still being sung and that is the bottom line, Panther write songs which get stuck in your head and will have you humming and singing along for days after. That to me is the mark of a band with a long career and even greater success ahead.
Review by David Wilson
Photos by Iain Scott
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