To say that Steel Panther is a unique band would be a gross understatement. It is this uniqueness that draws out a wide variety of colourful characters to each of their shows and fosters, intent on rocking out to one of the world’s funniest rock/metal acts. It’s been several shows since I have seen a queue that spirals around the outside of Eatons Hill Hotel’s exterior 30 minutes prior to the doors opening, and given that this venue is a two thousand capacity venue and that there was only one band performing, this line was a testament to that uniqueness and the following that Steel Panther has created for themselves in Australia.
Being the only band on for the night meant that the crowd reaction was immediate from the moment the lights dimmed. As each member proceeded out one by one these cheers got louder and louder, until it was seemingly cut short as all members had taken their positions on the stage, and the band began playing Eyes of a Panther.
In terms of their performance, Michael Starr and his voice truly embody the spirit of those 80’s rock/metal acts that the band personifies. His performance vocally is so strong that if it were any other person at the helm of this band that they wouldn’t be nearly anywhere near successful as they are today. Guitarist Satchel also continues to be one of the most underrated guitarists around, effortlessly wreaking havoc across some truly difficult riffs and solo passages that are wild enough to instantly evoke the thought of being transported back to the heydays of glam rock. It’s a spectacle to watch this pair on stage, and if you have ever seen Panther before live then you know what I am talking about.
For the first set of this dual set performance, the band performed a comprehensive collection of best cuts from their career to date. These songs were filled with all the debauchery and hilarity that you have come to expect from the band, and quite often had the fans singing or laughing along with it. This didn’t stop once the music cut away either, as in between tracks the band continued to be their usual selves with the hilarious jokes or digs at audience members, and even their poor bassist Lexxi Foxx that garnered immense stacks of laughter from the audience. This constant stream of jokes from Starr and Satchel ensured that there was never a dull moment, and it would have been an extremely rare sight in the room if someone didn’t have their attention strongly transfixed on stage for the duration of these pieces.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this first set was that drummer Stix Zadinia played such a small role in it. Previous shows have seen the band engage with Zadinia quite freely in a similar manner than they do with Foxx, but that seemed all but absent this time around.
While it is normally standard procedure in a double set format to leave the stage and return after a short intermission, the band opted to forgo the break and instead dove straight into their set of covers. Where the first set was just your typical Steel Panther experience, this second set seemed to be when the crowd really started to get heavily involved. Sampling a collection of classic 80’s hits across several great bands from that era, there was seemingly no rock or hair-metal artist of that time that wouldn’t have their music covered in the set. Whether it was full tracks from the likes of Whitesnake or Motley Crüe, to others getting a cheeky inclusion in Satchel’s guitar solo, the 80’s era was well and truly alive on stage during this second set.
One of the funniest moments of the night actually occurred just after Starr had left the stage. The remaining band members then dove into a cover of Ozzy Osbourne classic Crazy Train at which point Starr emerged dressed as Ozzy and put on an impersonation that was so incredibly accurate that if you had of put him on stage next to be original it would have been near impossible to tell the difference.
The pinnacle of the night however, occurred at the moment that the band invited none other than Steven Adler and Constantine Maroulis and Sean McNabb from Adler’s band to join the members on stage to perform some Guns N’ Roses covers. While this might have only occurred as a consequence of having the tours of these two acts intersect in the one city, it certainly made for a unique, one-of-a-kind experience that had even the most reserved audience member belting out Sweet Child of Mine at the top of their lungs.
The second set of songs really highlighted the musical strengths of the bands. I mean of course, there was still some of their usual shtick involved in the performance of these tracks, but it was watered down to a point where I think that a majority of the people in the crowd understood that beneath all of the debauchery and colourfulness that they are known for, that these guys are world class musicians. Some of the songs that the band had opted to cover weren’t exactly easy, but the band not only nailed them, but added their own flair to each song, and gave a unique perspective and presentation of these classics in the process.
It’s a true testament when a band can sell out several large capacity shows on a tour around Australia. This whole “evening with…” style of format has become a big fixture in recent years, and it’s great to see it be adopted by a band like Steel Panther. Bringing their Sunset Strip Live tour to Australia was another success for the band on our shores, and given how well received their performance was in Brisbane in this particular format, I can guarantee that it is probably a style that the band will continue bringing to Australia for some time to come.