I had an inkling that Steel Panther would be fun, no holds barred hair metal. I turned out to be bang right on that. What I didn’t know previously was just how far their derivative concept stretched.
A fan told me after the gig that the band have had a residency at the famous Key Club in LA for quite a few years now, have had everyone from Pink to Joey Jordison up playing with them and are somewhat of a legend on the Los Angeles scene. This makes perfect sense. Steel Panther are all glammy pastiche with a mission to bring back debauched heavy metal in a big way. They have some amusingly childish between song banter, which starts out kind of funny but gets tiresome when it drags out for minutes on end. When not messing around, their songs are by turns overblown ballads like ‘Fat Girl’ and debauched rockers like ‘Death To All But Metal’.
I strained to see the band in the packed out Academy 2 room, which is characteristically cramped and sweaty and found myself feeling really glad that the Academy has finally moved to more spacious and better laid out premises. Between huge mullet wigs and waving horn signs, I caught a glimpse of the band; a balding Sammy Hagar lookalike on lead vocals (possessed of a mighty set of lungs I must say), He-man on bass with cheekbones so sharp they could cut diamond, dumpy drummer and one of the most technically gifted rock guitarists I’ve ever heard.
As a homage to their idols; Motley Crue, LA Guns, Twisted Sister and what have you, they’re great. And they are fun; they are all good performers and musicians and entertained a bunch of people in a cramped, sweaty room for an hour and a half. And that audience wasn’t just a load of sad old men or socially maladjusted, spotty teenage boys. There was a decent sized female contingent in the crowd, no doubt attracted by bassist Lexxi Foxxe’s Hollywood good looks. But I can’t help but think that eleven quid is a bit much to pay to see what is basically a competent tribute band. Over half of their songs are simply reworked and disguised versions of classic rock songs like ‘Living on a Prayer’, ‘Eruption’ and ‘Here I Go Again’. They are not as funny as Tenacious D, whose crude, ‘random’ humour Steel Panther share, or as witty as Spinal Tap. They’re a band aimed squarely at the Guitar Hero generation.
Some might say I’ve missed the point in a big way here, but with such a well worn concept as Steel Panther I think a band has to work a bit harder to really entertain.
Review – Adam Moffatt
Photos – Steve Gerrard