Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Steel Panther - Cardiff Review

I had done two gigs on the trot before (sometimes by the same band - Mostly Autumn and Glamour of the Kill jump out in this category), but I do not ever remember doing three before! This Steel Panther show at Cardiff's premier music venue, the Motorpoint Arena, was my third gig in as many days in a trip that had taken in Bristol and London beforehand! Some might think me mad, but I love it and would do this sort of thing more often if time and money were not an issue! This was also the biggest gig of the three, with the sizes increasing over the course of the trip. Arena shows are a relative rarity in my gigging life, as most hard rock and metal acts cannot dream of filling venues of this size, but with the popularity of the genres slowing increasing again, more and more bands are starting to fill arenas. Steel Panther are a band that have grown a lot since I last saw them, which was in 2012 at Nottingham's Rock City on the Balls Out tour. I had seen them once before that too, also in Nottingham, but this time at the large arena supporting Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe. Steel Panther, despite their comedy image and lyrics, are a genuinely great live band too, and their music that both parodies and celebrates the 1980s hair metal scene is perfect to fill big arenas. I had deliberately missed the band on their last few UK appearances, as there just is not the time or money to see every gig I would like to, so when I saw this short arena run announced back in February I jumped at the chance to see them for a third time. The fact that American sleaze rockers Buckcherry were chosen as one of the support bands also helped my decision, as they are a band I have wanted to catch live for a while. On another positive note, the venue was pretty much full for this show, and it was great to see such a large crowd in an arena for a rock act!

The aforementioned Buckcherry opened the show with a seven-song set of their patented sleazy hard rock. This sort of music is made for big crowds, and many present already seemed to be familiar with much of their material. I was actually somewhat disappointed with the band's performance however. Frontman Josh Todd just sounded plain weird throughout the entire set, and was almost unintelligible throughout. It was not that that he was low in the mix, as he was not, I could barely understand a word he said (or sung) all night, which was a shame. The rest of the band were great however, with guitarists Keith Nelson and Stevie D. trading dirty riffs, slide sections, and shredding solos with ease. Despite Todd's performance I still enjoyed the band's set, and the highlights were the speedy melodic hard rock of Gluttony and the closing number Crazy Bitch that had everyone in the growing crowd singing along passionately. The setlist was:

Out of Line
Lit Up
Say Fuck It [Icona Pop cover]
Crazy Bitch

On the other band, main support band Bowling for Soup genuinely impressed and turned in an impressive performance. The American pop punk band are easily a contender for the worst headline band I have ever seen live before, when they played a sloppy and drunk show in Plymouth back in 2007 (I think). Since then I have pretty much ignored anything they have done, but this 50 minute set in Cardiff was packed full of songs I remember hearing on Kerrang! TV back in the day! I am not usually one for nostalgia, but this set made me remember how many catchy songs Bowling for Soup have written, and their performance this time was tight and full of energy. Teen anthems like High School Never Ends and Almost had even the most harden hair metal heads in the crowd singing along, and their rocking cover of Fountains of Wayne's Stacy's Mom (which apparently lots of people think is by Bowling for Soup so they play it live now as a joke) went down well. It was the last two numbers, 1985 and Girl all the Bad Guys Want, that brought the biggest cheers however, and ensured their set ended on a high. I was genuinely impressed with this live this time, and this set has gone some way to cleanse my mind of the previous horror show I had witnessed all those years ago.

It was Steel Panther that everyone was here to see however, and when the lights went down the place went crazy. Satchel's (guitar/vocals) opening riff to Eyes of a Panther set to the tone for the night, and the crowd were loud and energetic from the off. The band's sound mix was perfect too, with everyone sounding nice and loud with just the right amount of sparkle. Two more modern hair metal anthems followed, culminating in Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World which frontman Michael Starr sung with ease. Steel Panther are part-band and part-comedy act, and one of their ad-libbed spoken sections followed. These are the parts of Steel Panther shows that make me switch off in all honesty. They can be funny for a few minutes, but this section must have gone on for a good 15 minutes of banter between the band members and the audience, and it did get tiresome. They could have easily fitted in another couple of songs instead! I know many people enjoy these sections, but it did get rather too much after a while. When the band are playing music however, they are untouchable. Asian Hooker and Turn Out the Lights came in quick succession, and It Won't Suck Itself  has one of the craziest guitar solos in the band's catalogue. A short acoustic section followed, where a fan was brought on stage and the band sang to her, and attempted to make up a song for her on the spot which was actually pretty funny. This culminated in a crowd sing-a-long of Girl from Oaklahoma which went down well. More girls were brought up on stage from the crowd after this, and the show became one huge party until the end. 17 Girls in a Row and the closing number Death to all but Metal were the highlight of this section of the show, and saw plenty more soloing from Satchel. There was time for one more song as an encore, and Party all Day (Fuck all Day) was chosen. Members from the band The Lounge Kittens got up on stage and joined the band by adding extra backing vocals, and the show ended on a real high with one of the catchiest songs in the band's repertoire. The setlist was:

Eyes of a Panther
Just Like Tiger Woods
Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World
Asian Hooker
Turn Out the Lights
Let Me Cum In
Guitar solo
It Won't Suck Itself
She's on the Rag
Girl from Oaklahoma
17 Girls in a Row
Community Property
Death to all but Metal
Party all Day (Fuck all Night) [w/ The Lounge Kittens]

Overall, this was a triumphant set from a band that have really helped bring 1980s hair metal to the younger generation while making a string of excellent, and funny, records themselves. I am sure we will be hearing from Steel Panther for quite some time yet, and with a new album due in February, I expect there will be more UK shows next year!

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