Review and photos by Russ Tierney
Buckcherry kick things off with a short and to the point set getting up close and personal on the extension at the front of the stage. You always get the feeling that Buckcherry are the bridesmaids, and the choice of staging tonight means the lighting party is mostly on drummer Xavier and about 6 foot behind Josh and co. The sound however is pretty decent for an arena, and the guys translate fan favouties ‘Riding’, ‘Lit Up’ and ‘Gluttony’ to a warm, cheering reception. However, it is a shame to see people still piling in in their hundreds long after Buckcherry’s anthem and staple of every decent rock club, ‘Crazy Bitch’, draws their set to a close. Cast aside any past issues, Buckcherry these days are a band on a mission and still pumping out the albums to match.
The light relief starts in the form of Bowling For Soup. These guys joke about as much as they play, which comes in handy when bass gremlins cause a few issues that Jaret brushes off without any awkward silences. After kicking things off with ‘Bitch Song’, I find myself remembering the banter more than the music. Jaret exclaims he ate the old frontman from Bowling For Soup and that despite not being the most ‘rock’ band on tonight’s bill, that they’re definitely the heaviest.. even with “the skinny fuckers” in Buckcherry having a member on them and needing a sandwich. They’re proud to be the band that waves back to you, and they do so when ever hands aren’t engaged in playing instruments.. they even stop for a good few minutes to do a choreographed photo opportunity to David Lee Roth’s ‘Yankee Rose’. The ending is strong however, and we’re greeted with a cover of ‘Stacy’s Mom’ (that ironically they’re better known for), followed by ‘Punk Rock 101’, ‘1985’ and finally they too finish on their anthem, ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’. Fun fun fun.
Now lets assume some of you are new to Steel Panther and have never seen them before. These guys take that dream of rocking out in a debauched 80’s sleazey cock rock band, from the bedroom and on to the stage, and not just any old club stage either that most orignal serious r’n’r bands only manage to elevate themselves to such as Buckcherry, but here Steel Panther are headlining the Barclaycard Arena. Like their Steel namesakes, Dragon, it’s a story fit for the movies, but this ones one liner is ‘spoof 80’s rock band comes good, makes it big, and lives the dream for real’.
Now if you have seen them before, then you already know there’s limited scope in that joke and that you’re also in for nothing new other than an airing of tracks from new album Set The Bar Low… but that’s exactly what people have come for. The same old jokes, the same old cliches and the overtly risque humour that spoofs the genre perfectly and offers a night of escapism which punches a massive hole in the mid week blues.
Steel Panther allow those who were too young and unable to board the night train back in the 80’s the chance to get on board now and witness all the silliness of the Rockstar cliche first hand.. and it works. There’s a pretty young audience loving it alongside those enjoying the nod to their youth and a whole new set of groupie types hovering in the moment. Aside from them being a complete party band and ridiculing? enjoying? stealing? Motley Cure’s titty cam idea (minus the camera… ok, just encouraging boobs), is that while Vince Neil cemented Motley Crue’s legac… err.. contractual obligations by screeching out vowels and becoming the joke, Michael Star knows a bunch of consonants too in his finely constructed one. They add up to such classics as ‘It Wont Suck Itself’, ‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Death to all but Metal’ which all punctuate the set tonight. There’s also a cover of Skid Row’s ‘Youth Gone Wild’ where Bowling for Soup’s Jaret sheds his pop punk routes to nail some vocals. In fact they’re all such solid players to the point that they put on a big enough rock show without the rollercoasters to make the bad jokes, wigs, cliches and spandex seem effortless and completely legit, and with tongue wedged firmly in cheek, it’s hard not too have a good time. I’ll happily admit that the first time I saw Panther I was expecting the joke to get tired real quick and was ready to hate them, but I was converted within three songs and holding back the tears of laughter. So if you’re in doubt, check them out, it’ll put a smile on your face.. and the world always need more smiles.. and other such cliches.