At early doors to catch Buckcherry and Bowling For Soup there’s plenty of glamour, makeup, tight leggings and some big hair – and that’s just in the queue for the men’s loo. Move over Justin Bieber with your previous two night’s sell-out shows at the Barclaycard Arena, tonight is what it’s all about – it’s a Steel Panther night!
Moving up to arena status since I last saw them four years ago, the masters of tongue-in-cheek, 80’s hair metal bring out fans of the time and their kids. It’s a beautiful thing to see an arena floor packed for the performing art that is the Steel Panther phenomenon, no matter whether they have knowingly or unknowingly become part of it. Either way the intro tape ‘I Love It Loud’ by Kiss is a sure fire way to get this appreciative party started.
Michael Starr (Ralph Saenz), Satchel (Russ Parrish), Lexxi Foxx (Travis Haley) and Stix Zadinia (Darren Leader) go headlong into ‘Eyes of a Panther’ – a spanking metal groover, although lyrically sedate compared to what is in store. Next up ‘Just Like Tiger Woods’ with lines such as “If you wanna be like Tiger Woods, filling all the divots in the neighborhood ..” is far closer to the way we are headed.
As the final show of their four UK dates, Michael proclaims: “Birmingham, you’re the best!” to which Satchel responds “You said that in Manchester!” alluding to what we all know, that some of the biggest names in rock’n’ roll say the same thing at every show. The banter takes a funnier and cruder twist when Michael points into the audience and says: “Hey you! Get your tits out!” .. “No, not you, the cute one!”
The first half of the set rolls on with ‘Party Like Tomorrow Is the End of the World’, ‘Asian Hooker’, ‘Let Me Cum In’ and a Satchel guitar solo from behind the drum kit. He shreds impressively for a while before accompanying himself on the kick-drum, belting out a string of classic rock riffs including ‘Smoke On The Water’, ‘Breaking The Law’, ‘The Trooper’ and a very well received ‘Iron Man’.
Bowling For Soup’s frontman Jaret Reddick joins the band for a great cover of Skid Row’s ‘Youth Gone Wild’ with a surprisingly spot on vocal for the task. Character aside for the moment, it’s clear that Saenz – with his own superb falsetto range – is aware of Reddick’s gift, as they jam the vocal out between them.
The laugh-out-loud, very rude and funny banter continues, as does the choice of songs from the Motley Crüe, Poison, Ratt, Van Halen influenced repository. ‘It Won’t Suck Itself’, ‘She’s on the Rag’ and ‘Girl From Oklahoma’ march us towards the end, before ’17 Girls In A Row’ sees closer to 30 girls from the Birmingham audience join the band on-stage, all dancing and running around to pose with them for selfies. It looks like chaos, but well managed chaos at that.
‘Gloryhole’, ‘Community Property’ and a massive dose of ‘Death to All but Metal’ bring the show to its climax, before ‘Party All Day (Fuck All Night)’ finish us all off with an explosion of confetti canons and we’re left as the band would want it, completely nailed.
With the fun-factor, superb musicianship, great sound and light show all over, it’s time to trudge into the night and wonder when we can next enjoy a show like that. Probably when Steel Panther are here again. So to quote their PR from this tour, in advance of their next one – “Do NOT miss this… Seriously. Don’t be the one person who WASN’T there. No one wants to be that person.”
Review & Photography: Steve Johnston