Steel Panther @ O2 Academy, Bristol – 11 November 2012

If you attend a Steel Panther show – having never heard of them before – things could go either one of two ways. You could completely fall in love with them for the rest of your life, or you could come away expressing how ridiculously offensive, sexist and vile they are.

Of course, not everybody will like Michael Starr (vocals), Stix Zadinia (drums), Lexxi Foxxx (bass) and Satchel (guitar). But for those who do “get” them – their creative outpouring of evocative, sexually saturated hair metal is exactly where the love will stem.

Like every date on the current UK tour promoting their new live DVD – Bristol Academy is sold out. The pre-gig atmosphere is that of a massive 80’s glam metal party, complete with the costumes and sounds of a musical period where political correctness just didn’t exist.

Opening with ‘Supersonic Sex Machine’, ‘Tomorrow Night’ and ‘Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)’, the bands set is a cauldron of influences ranging from Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, Poison, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake. This show is unashamedly rude and crude, with humour that is not for the easily offended. However, for me and everybody else in attendance – the banter is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.

An ability that Steel Panther have is to write good, fun party rock songs. Maybe not the cleverest of lyrics, but with titles such as ‘Asian Hooker’, ‘Just Like Tiger Woods’, ‘It Won’t Suck Itself’ and ‘That’s What Girls Are For’ – I think it’s pretty obvious they are not meant to be taken seriously.

Amidst the pelvic thrusting and the crotch grasping insanity, this is an accomplished bunch of musicians. Michael Starr’s perfectly pitched falsetto vocal and Satchel’s fiery guitar work is hot enough to rank alongside, if not outclass, some of those they emulate.

Whilst Lexxi spends much of his time fixing his make-up, he and Stix form a solid rhythmic plod to tunes, that with tongues firmly in cheek have the audience eating out of the palms of their hands. With knickers and bras flung on stage throughout, ‘Death To all But Metal’ completes the main set, with an encore of ‘Community Property’, ‘Eyes Of A Panther’ and ’17 Girls In A Row’.

Since the previous genius of Spinal Tap and Bad News, cynics will ask why do we need another heavy metal parody band? For me – with the likes of Simon Cowell sucking the music industry dry of all originality – Steel Panther and a little carefree irresponsible fun-factor is exactly what we need right now.

Review & Photography: Steve Johnston

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