Review by Sophie Maughan and photos by Alexx Peace
With a sell-out crowd already in attendance by 7.01 pm, the excitement in Rock City tonight is palpable. People are sweating, the walls are sweating and this scribe is bouncing around like a demented rabbit to the sounds of Poison, Ratt and the Crue blaring over the PA. The atmosphere is electric and I have already made friends with at least three dudes in spandex. Inflatable guitars are held triumphantly aloft. A thoroughly backcombed ‘do is never far from view. It truly feels like I am part of a real rockin’ family in here tonight and it is, for like of a better word, awesome.
7:15 pm rolls quickly around and it’s down to four piece Falling Red or, as they like to call themselves, “The Bad Boys of British Rock ‘n’ Roll” to get this party started. Hailing from Carlisle and with a penchant for all things huge, 80’s and AOR, these guys have been working their bollocks off since 2006, steadily amassing thousands of rabid fans along the way. And finally after a slew of gigs up and down the length of Blighty and some killer shows at both Hard Rock Hell V and Hammerfest, DJ’s and other bands alike are now beginning to recognise that these guys are definitely the real deal. Which is why it is a tad disappointing to witness the lacklustre reception from the throng surrounding me. Frontman Rozey is one hell of a lead vocalist. He is both endearing and engaging – constantly trying to interact with the audience below. The beats coming from drummer Dave Sanders are tight and he never misses a roll or beat. And guitarists Jayde and Dann stalk the stage like ninjas riffing with the confidence and panache of seasoned pro’s. A varied setlist is the order du jour with a cross-section of material aired from debut opus Shake The Faith (How You Feel sounds particularly huge in a live capacity) and 2011’s Hasta La Victoria Sempre. And whilst there are small pockets of diehards dotted around the venue who make plenty of noise, I would say that over 90% of the people packing out City are here for the headliners alone. Which is a real shame as FR do a stellar job tonight. Kudos are in order. Great stuff fellas.
As Falling Red exit stage left and we all throw down to the likes of Maiden, Ozzy and Alice Cooper, I swear that NOT ONE PERSON has moved an inch. Not to the bar. Not even to the bathroom. Yes, we’d all rather piss ourselves than risk missing one single second of what is about to erupt like god damn Krakatoa right in front of us. Steel f*cking Panther. If you’ve not heard of them- where have you been? And if you don’t get it/like it, you’re so in the wrong place right now. Oh, and one more question, what the hell is wrong with you? If you were one of the 85,000 lucky enough to witness the sheer brilliance that was their set at Download 2012, then you’ll know of what I speak. The Panther’s popularity has skyrocketed and is now at such gargantuan levels that this gig sold out within minutes. Yes, minutes. And as the clock ticks around to 8:59 pm and the opening strains of In the Future gives way to Supersonic Sex Machine, everyone loses their shit big time.
Looking ridiculously fly in a collective mix of leather, spandex and denim, Sunset Strip’s finest strut out to a crescendo of eardrum perforating applause and adoration. But do not let the unashamedly 80’s attire fool you into thinking that this fabulous five piece are nothing more than a frivolous novelty act. Frontman Michael Starr delivers up a delectable tsunami of swagger and his falsetto and overall vocal range is truly impressive. But let’s not forget the other band members either. Stixx Zadinia (drums), the lovely Lexxi Foxxx (bass guitar and serial pouter) and Satchel (lead guitar) are all equally talented musicians of the highest calibre and absolutely slay on stage. Two songs into the set and things come to a sudden halt.
The band launch into a spirited and thoroughly lewd, rude and crude conversation with one another and it’s not long before they get the crowd involved too. The innuendo does not cease and the jokes are non-pc, totally inappropriate and totally brilliant. You name it, it’s covered at length. Underage sex, drugs, boobs, sex and erm, more boobs. Starr and Satchel invite two ladies sitting on their (we presume) boyfriends’ shoulder to “make out and get freaky” with each other. They happily oblige. The clothes are whipped off and “chest areas” are ahem, rubbed together. Mass sing-alongs are a standard feature at any Steel Panther gig and fan faves Tomorrow Night, Asian Hooker and Just Like Tiger Woods are all bellowed back at the guys in gleeful unison. Turn Out The Lights is another glowing highlight of the storming setlist this evening and gets the punters writhing around in ecstasy and throwing the horns high in the sky. A deafening chant of “Satchel! Satchel! Satchel!” commences after the guitarist delivers a staggering ten minute plus long solo comprised of classic hits from the likes of Black Sabbath, Metallica and Iron Maiden. Wow. It’s then time for Michael and Lexxi to take on Satchel in a battle to see which side of the room is the loudest. Each competitor believes their “team” to be victorious. During Death To All But Metal, a gaggle of half naked female groupie types are invited onstage for some goold ol’ fashioned cavorting (I am also encouraged to get up but politely decline the offer) whilst the males in attendance look on with unadulterated joy.
Sadly, it is all over far too quickly but we are totally treated to a stripped down, acoustic rendition of Community Property before a fantastically sexed up version of Eyes Of A Panther and 17 Girls In A Row finish off an electrifying encore. What a night and what a band. And whilst I wasn’t old enough to fully appreciate the music of the 80’s back in the 80’s, I’m so glad that I’ve got the opportunity to do so in 2012. So here’s to another ten years of sheer Sunset Strip decadence. Steel Panther, we salute you.
And you can see more shots from the show here: