Review: Steel Panther at O2 Academy 8/10 (Joe Perkins)
NOTORIOUS American glam-metal quartet Steel Panther passed through Bristol as part of their world tour in support of most recent album Balls Out. With a reputation for highly profane lyrics and massively over-sexualised stage personas, the show was only ever going to be a humorous and nostalgic voyage back to the excesses of 1980s heavy metal.
With more than an echo of Spinal Tap about them, the band certainly looked the part for their show with huge hair, bandanas, aviators and thick make-up seeming the norm.
The audience dressed for the occasion too, most of whom had evidently raided the long-forgotten sections of their parents' wardrobes before heading down to the Academy.
The gloriously over-the-top stage further set the tone for the evening, comprising of walls of Marshall amplifiers, enough CO2 cannons to tame a medium-sized forest fire, and an enormous double-kick drum kit on a riser so massive that the whole setup might as well have been integral to the lighting rig.
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Opening with new album track Supersonic Sex Machine, the band instantly had the audience jumping around in a sweaty throng. Often pausing between numbers to exchange repartee between themselves and the crowd, there was almost as much banter in the 110-minute set as there was music – not that this raised any objections.
If you look beyond their humour however, they are actually all phenomenal musicians – and seem to pull off the self-indulgent 80s metal vibe better than many bands did back in the day. To write good comic songs you first have to be very musically talented, and the arsenal of witty and expertly-crafted tunes that they carry with them is surely testament to their aptitude.
Personal highlights included a surprisingly touching sing-along rendition of Community Property; a dozen girls being dragged from the audience to dance on stage during That's What Girls Are For; and the virtuosic mid-set guitar solo which lampooned countless classic rock riffs, yet culminated in a speed-metal version of Do Re Mi. With a total disregard for political correctness and moral decency, it's not hard to see why Steel Panther create headlines. However, their parodist nature – even if the 'lad' humour can become a little predictable and tiresome at times – somehow seems to make everything seem perfectly acceptable, regardless of how explicit or dark it may be. Indeed, it's hard to imagine any other band being able to pull off a song about extramarital affairs entitled Just Like Tiger Woods.