ZZ Top + Steel Panther @ Wolverhampton Civic Hall – 27th October 2009


There has been an issue collecting my ticket for the show, which luckily, after 20 minutes, was resolved by the accommodating duty manager for the venue, to whom I am very grateful. This in turn meant I only caught the last segment of Steel Panther‘s set another reason to be very grateful for all the ticket palaver. It maybe that I am in dire need of a humour transplant but I don’t get the attraction of Steel Panther; however I am fully aware that I am in the minority considering the audience’s response this evening. Steel Panther are a parody glam rock band from LA who are currently riding high in the popularity stakes thanks to Youtube.


Their reputation precedes them as most of the ticket holders are in the hall watching the support act, (which is unusual in itself) when I walk in and catch Satchel’s extended guitar solo. There is no question that he is a very talented guitarist, as his solo incorporates various rock riffs from Guns’n’Roses, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Rimsky-Korsakov, which he executes meticulously whilst pulling every single rock pose under the sun. This is followed by Party All Day and Fuck All Night and Death To All But Metal, both of which include every glam cliché available. As the band leave the stage their comedy act is received with rapturous applause, but it leaves me feeling that it is all a bit silly and confused as to why they are supporting ZZ Top.


It has been a number of years since ZZ Top have embarked on a UK tour, even if it is only two dates, and it is certainly an unexpected surprise to see them playing such a small venue; needless to say everyone is waiting with bated breath for the band’s entrance. After a thumping dance track, ZZ Top start their set with Got Me Under Pressure from the Eliminator album, and despite their age these guys rock. Billy Gibbons’ gruff tones resonate throughout the Civic Hall , whilst Dusty Hill and Frank Beard keep the rhythm grooving demonstrating how effective a three piece can be.


Despite Gibbons and Hill’s legendary beards and shades, the pair have mischief written all over their faces, which is exposed further by Gibbons’ banter with the crowd about the placement of Wolverhampton in comparison to Birmingham and his purchase of sunglasses from Poundland. After Pincushion, two scantily clad, female “technicians” approach Billy with his blues hat which sits neatly over his grey woolly hat and rings in the start of some gritty southern blues. ZZ Top’s ability to play simple blues and boogie are essentially what they are all about, unfortunately the sound isn’t as powerful as I was expecting. However, the band have won the crowd over with a set that includes Hendrix’s Foxy Lady, Gibbons’ one handed guitar solo in I Need You Tonight and the awesome Just Got Paid.


After thoroughly enjoying every golden rasping note of Just Got Paid, the band launch into their three most famous tracks taken from the Eliminator album. ZZ Top start the trilogy with the classic Gimme All Your Lovin’ and conspicuously the sound improves ten fold, providing a richer quality throughout the Hall, which appears to enliven the audience as well. The trilogy continues with Sharp Dressed Man and Legs both of which demonstrate the greatness of coordinated steps and guitar antics. ZZ Top leave the stage to rousing applause which is much deserved for a brief period, to return with La Grange, Sloppy Drunk and Bar-B-Q before raising the roof with the brilliant Tush. Much to everyone’s disappointment the band exit the stage again, not for long though as they return with Tube Snake Boogie, completing an hour and three quarter set of joy. Considering they have been playing together for over thirty years you expect the trio to be musically tight; however, the band go further than that, as they have a formula that works and simplicity is at its core, it is honest to goodness blues.


Review – Toni Woodward
Photos – Katja Ogrin

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