Steel Panther – Live @ the Powerstation, Auckland. Review and Photos
It’s impossible not to have a good time at a Steel Panther gig – or at least that’s what I was reliably informed by a middle-aged man dressed in leopard-print tights and a fake wig.
Words by Shawn Moody – Photos by Brad Holland, Vault Media Productions
My new concert buddy, James, and his partner were seeing the Glam Metal rockers for the third time and had traveled from overseas to watch the band perform at The Powerstation on a somewhat dour Sunday night. Obviously James could sense my apprehension as he continued to press their case, “You’ll love it – nobody works a crowd like ‘the Panther’. These boys are the real deal.”
If I’m being honest, I had to take his word for it as my knowledge of Steel Panther was limited to what I could find in a quick google search before the gig. What I did know was that I was firmly in the minority, as the rest of the crowd (a wonderful mishmash of black shirted metallers and middle-aged rockers who’d ditched the wife and kids to party like it’s 1981), was positively teeming with anticipation.
For the uninitiated, Steel Panther are a rare case of satirists who have achieved the same popularity as the people that they lampoon.
The parody-heavy hair metal band began life in the early 2000’s as an in-joke on Los Angeles’s Sunset Strip, before their spot-on piss-take (think tight spandex, peroxide hair, and gratuitous guitar solos) – plus support slots with the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Judas Priest, and Mötley Crüe and Judas Priest – lifted them to the point where they can now top charts and headline Wembley Stadium (it’s hard to imagine Quiet Riot doing that in 2016).
By the time openers Blue Ruin arrived on stage, the crowd had been whipped into a frenzy thanks to a full-throated sing-along courtesy of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’. The Auckland five-piece kept the good times going as they ripped through a high energy punk-rock set which mixed originals like their fantastic upcoming single ‘Scream Queen’, with well-worked covers from the likes of Buckcherry and Misfits. This all-female outfit is a band on the rise and their performance did more than enough to validate their reputation as an emerging force on the Kiwi rock scene.
The roars of appreciation that met Steel Panther as they strutted out onstage to the panther growls of opening song ‘Eyes of the Panther’, helped to replace my hesitation with anticipation as I was quickly won over by the band’s showmanship, dirty jokes, and undeniable talent as musicians.
It became obvious that Steel Panther excel live. They’re a spandex-fueled assault of awesome who take the excesses of 80’s Glam Rock – overt misogyny, drug references (Guitarist Satchel’s ‘Say perhaps to Drugs’ t-shirt just one of many), and guitar solos – and turn them up to 11.
Throughout Steel Panther’s almost two-hour set I was often left wondering what set the band apart from the like of White Snake or Skidrow. They certainly looked and sounded the part. The best answer I have is self-awareness. Undeniably puerile Songs like ‘Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)’, ‘The Shocker’, and ‘Asian Hooker’ ooze misogyny and sexism but are delivered with a knowing wink.
However, in spite of all of the sodomy jokes and women invited on stage to ‘show their tits’ (of which many oblige), there’s nothing funny about Steel Panther’s musicianship – and that’s perhaps why their act works so well.
Pouting bassist Lexxi Foxx provided the ‘glam’ component for the evening, spending much of the nearly two-hour set applying lip gloss and preening his waist-length locks in a full-length mirror. He also kept rhythm superbly, all while maintaining a ridiculous duckface.
Drummer Stixx Zadinia, (if you haven’t noticed by now these are all ridiculous stage names) was a man of few words, but had complete mastery over his domain – a monstrous red DW kit.
Frontman Michael Starr, AKA “slightly fatter David Lee Roth”, or “slightly skinnier Vince Neil”, spent his time sprinting up and down the stage, whipping the adoring crowd into a frenzy thanks to his insane falsetto and impressive showmanship. His ability to sing ridiculously titled (and written) songs like ‘Gloryhole’ and ‘Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’ with conviction was admirable.
Guitarist Satchel, a former instructor at Hollywood’s Musician’s Institute, can shred with the best of them, and left alone on stage mid-set he ripped through an extended medley which featured classics like ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’, ‘Iron Man’, and ‘Smoke On The Water’, before hilariously segueing into a song from The Sound of Music.
The mark of a good concert can be measured by an audience’s ability to completely lose themselves in a performance, and that’s exactly what happened to me on Sunday night.
Surrounded by a crowd were clearly in on the joke and a band who delivered it with such conviction, it was hard not to get swept away by it all. I laughed along at all their crude jokes, cheered when two scantily-clad twins hopped up onstage and proceeded to make out with each other, and rocked out to the undeniably great music being offered throughout the night.
Steel Panther’s gig was probably one of the crudest and most puerile performances that I’ll ever see, but it was a hell of a lot of fun.
- Eyes of a Panther
- Tomorrow Night
- Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)
- Just Like Tiger Woods
- Let Me Cum In
- Asian Hooker
- Gold Digging Whore
- Guitar Solo
- Ten Strikes You’re Out
- Girl From Oklahoma
- 17 Girls in a Row
- Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’
- Death to All but Metal
- Community Property
- Party All Day (Fuck All Night)