Steel Panther | John Hayhurst | for FOTF Magazine

Steel Panther, Manchester Arena, Manchester

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Steel Panther bring their Glam Rock Pantomime to Manchester Arena

The 80’s glam metal parody kings Steel Panther get the audience on stage and bring the house down in front of thousands of fans in Manchester.

Who knew? Americans actually do get satire! Steel Panther – who started life as a satirical parody of all those 80’s Glam Metal bands, are now headlining arenas in the UK, and thousands flock to see this comedy troupe who were originally a Monday night resident band at Johnny Depp’s Viper Room on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

Interestingly, the increase in popularity has meant that this band are now as big as the artists they are mimicking, they now have a comprehensive set of bawdy rockers and equally bawdy ballads that can produce a setlist of rocktastic proportions. The joke that was hilarious over ten years ago is as strong and funny as ever and the audience are totally part of the experience, dressing up with big hair, latex and bandanas (and that’s just the men).

Don’t get me wrong, whilst this is satire – you can’t deny that they do it all very well, the technical side of the band, the musicianship is of the very highest quality. ‘Satchel’ (real name Russ Parrish) is a superb guitarist and could give any major player a run for their money – Van Halen, Malmsteen, I kid you not. He demonstrates this halfway through the set with a blistering run through some of the most famous riffs in rock music history – even Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ gets a turn, much to the crowd’s appreciation.

Elsewhere bassist Lexxi Foxx (Travis Haley) spends an equal amount of time off stage putting his lipstick on and spraying his hair with spray in identical pink cans, that match his outfit, his guitar, his bracelet. The self-proclaimed “most beautiful man in rock” has a pink mirror to check his appearance and whilst I’m laughing, and so are the audience, thinking back to bands in the mid 80’s like Poison and Cinderella, it wouldn’t have seemed unusual. The difference between then and now is that the audience is around 40% female, I’m old enough to remember gigs of those hair metal bands in the 80’s, and there really were not many females in the audience. Bands like Van Halen rarely played the UK because of this, David Lee Roth would happily say “There’s just no chicks in the audience in Europe, it’s all guys with embroidery on their jackets”. Tonight we have a stage invasion by around 50 girls all with phones getting selfies with the band and dancing around them, whilst Steel Panther jokingly play “17 Girls in a row”, the lyrics I won’t go into but you can guess.

The gig starts with a high tempo of “Eyes of a Panther” and Michael Starr wastes no time in working the stage kicking, camp posing, throwing his mic stand around and screaming like a cross between Vince Neil and the aforementioned Roth. He can sing, and probably a lot better than most of his peers, at times those notes he hits would have Bruce Dickinson wincing and wishing he could still do the same. Up tempos continue through the hilarious “Just like Tiger Woods” and “Party like tomorrow is the end of the world” before we get the ridiculously offensive “Asian Hooker”.

This is the key formula – use the traditional classic 80’s hair rock music reverberations and fit jokingly distasteful lyrics to it, add the most infectious air punching chorus, and there you have it. But the sight of watching several thousand people all shouting “Sucky F*cky Smells Like Sushi” is a visual pantomime of Spinal Tap proportions.

This continues into the set where they break out acoustic guitars and chairs to play the ballad. For Motley Crue see “Without You”, for Poison this would be the part where they play “Every Rose has its Thorn”. They pull a girl out of the audience who has already bared her breasts at them during a previous song, and Chloe is subjected to “Girl from Oklahoma” with its loving, tenderly delivered chorus of “Come on pretty baby suck my balls all night”. It has a strong resonance of Tenacious D “F*ck her gently” about it and gets the same comedic reaction from the crowd.

After the stage invasion encouraged by the band for “17 Girls in a Row” they encored with “Party All Night” and a rousing “Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)”. If you think this is misogyny then you are completely missing the point and treating it all far too seriously. This is comedy satire of the highest quality, musicianship equal to some of the biggest classic rock arena acts around, and overall just pure entertainment and fun for everyone.

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