Steel Panther + Inglorious + Wayward Sons
Friday 26th January
Hammersmith Apollo, London
If you are going to see a band at the ‘Hammy Odeon’, they don’t get any hammier than Steel Panther. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Steel Panther are a band that likes to parody 80’s hair Metal bands but are far too good as musicians to be considered a parody themselves. Dressed in obligatory 80’s spandex and leery outfits, their elaborately coiffured manes top an ensemble that Motley Crue must surely have patented. Their material is everything that your mother warned you about, which is what seems to make them as attractive an act to enjoy an evening out with as any other these days. Their lyrics are as base as you can get with subtlety truly consigned to the trash can (or dustbin as all correct English speaking people would say). You might think that a parody type band are just playing an act. Well these boys stay in character 24/7. With every song boasting sexual prowess, oversized genitalia and electromagnetic attraction to women (not that they would ever use such an under-demeaning phrase for the gentler sex), these four Californians walk the swagger and talk the Jagger.
Tonight sees a packed out audience of young rockers, many dressed up in homage to their hard partying American cousins. The 80’s hair Metal fancy-dress outfits have obviously sold well with many of the manly testosterone filled geezers looking prettier than their girlfriends. And more of those beautiful ladies later. Dotted amongst the youth are a few greyer hairs just as eager for an evening of irreverent schoolboy fun. As well as a few serious types who are in for a bit of a shock.
Opening act Wayward Sons are Toby Jepsons latest excellent band. The Little Angels frontman has put together a four piece of good old Rock goodness that has seen remarkable success in their short existence with airplay on Planet Rock as well as appearances at Ramblin’ Man and Hard Rock Hell.Sporting a beautiful Gibson Flying V, through a Marshall stack, Jepson launches into ‘Alive’ with all the assurance of a singer who knows his craft and knows that his material is good. ‘Alive’ is an intense zombie-filled ode to hope, peace and love taken from his new album ‘Ghost Of Yet To Come’. It’s a great song from a great album. Joining him are Sam Wood on guitar, Nic Wastell on bass, Dave Kemp on keys and Phil Martini on drums. Wood, a tall young Rocker who looks like he has been lifted from an early Rush album cover, accompanies Jepson on a Les Paul whilst taking the solo limelight.
Switching to an Ibanez hollowbody, Jepson keeps the Rock coming with new tracks like ‘Ghost’ and ‘Crush’ before dedicating \Something Wrong’ to the recently departed Fast Eddie Clark. Finishing the short set with their radio hit ‘Until The End’, the boys give it all they have, leaving Jepson’s Ibanez with all its strings broken, which he throws across stage to his beleaguered guitar tech to raise from the dead. The sound tonight is rather muddy which is a shame as the songs lose some of their bite and, at times, Jepson’s voice could be clearer. But the short set is a mastery of great British Rock and is hopefully the foundation of a larger catalogue and future headline tour. One I will want to see.
Wayward Sons setlist:
Until The End
Following the rising stars that are the Wayward Sons, and another Rock act who are going great guns, are Inglorious. Fresh from a hugely successful tour last year the five piece take to the stage to the curious intro music that is the theme tune to BBC’s Grandstand. Even more curious is how the packed audience manage to sing along to it with all the gusto of their favourite Rock track. Because it’s fun. Whereas Jepson and co are adorned in traditional denims and shirts, Inglorious get a lot more glitzy on us. Frontman Nathan James, a large long haired blond, appears in a dazzling sparkly black jacket whilst the twin guitar goodness is shared between Les Paul wielding Andreas Eriksson and Strat wearing Drew Lowe. Both are sporting similar black hats, with Lowe wearing a military style jacket that is schizophrenically festooned with sergeant’s chevrons, officer’s epaulettes and more medals than a GI Joe. That’s some military service record you have there Drew. Bassist Colin Parkinson is, on the other hand, quite soberly dressed in comparison whilst Captain Caveman on the drums (aka Phil Beaver) appears to be completely covered in hair. So I have no idea what he was wearing.
Inglorious are another talented bunch of musicians with frontman James a booming powerhouse of a voice, nimbly prancing around the stage flanked by the two behatted axemen. All five are active and energetic and a joy to watch. Despite the now slightly improved sound, the power of the Whitesnake/Zeppelin/Deep Purple inspired Rock shines through and gets the crowd jumping. “Scream for me Hammersmith” cries Nathan, so the crowd duly obliges. Opening track ‘Read All About It’, is the first of a number from the new album and a Hard Rocking, strong vocal delight that sums up their brand of Rock nicely. ‘Breakaway’ allows Drew to employ a Wah to great effect taking them into a great set that includes ‘Warning’, a slow twin guitar chug which morphs into a fast Rock with screaming vocals, and the radio friendly ‘Taking The Blame’. It’s a shorter set than their headline one (obviously), but no less powerful, it packs some punch and still showcases their considerable talent. Set closers ‘Holy Water’ sees Drew switch to a fabulous Fender Telecaster for a slower Bluesier groove whilst their radio hit ‘Until I Die’ is rightfully saved for their finale. Great stuff. I look forward to see them hitting the stage at Download later this year. They will go down a storm there just as they did tonight.
Read All About It
Change Is Coming
Taking the Blame
I Don't Need Your Loving
Until I Die
Lights go down for the headline act with a waft of peroxide pervading from the stage. The strains of Van Halen’s ‘Everybody Wants Some’ heralds the entrance of the not so shy phenomenon that is Steel Panther. And everybody wants some too. Cue the boisterous moshing, fist pumping and general bonhomie that sets the scene for the next 100 minutes of classic Hammy Odeon, hammy band fun. It’s like being transported back to the halcyon days of Poison and Ratt but in the heart of London W6’s true home of Metal rather than the LA strip. It’s hot, sweaty and with a hint of sardines. Much like Steel Panthers lyrics. Smells like sushi…
Those serious types who had enjoyed the more traditional Rock gig up until now soon made their way to the quieter parts of the theatre, assuming they hadn’t already been inadvertently propelled there by the whirling dervishes in the mosh pits. I like a mosh or two, and don’t feel I have had a good time if I haven’t left a gig with the odd bruise or two, but this one left me with a feeling of kinship with Steve Austin. Anyone got a spare $6 million? In true 80’s parody style, frontman Michael Starr struts around the stage, proclaiming his self-confessed importance to women and urging them to partake in ‘titty-cam’ which a surprising number are happy to do, usually sat atop the shoulders of their large boyfriends. No one in the audience seems to have any issue with this, especially the ladies. There were times when I didn’t know where to put my face. There were other times when I clearly did but the large boyfriends made that impossible.
Guitarist Satchel dominates stage right, proudly wielding a signature Charvel pro-mod DK guitar in luminous yellow with Bengal stripes – worth almost $150 he claims. His guitar skills are top notch, when he isn’t too busy making lascivious hand gestures or arranging carnal liaisons with anyone and everyone. Sexy Lexi Foxx takes stage left where his bass playing prowess takes second place to his hair preening duties. A hand held mirror and can of Silvikrin is never far from his grasp. And backing them up is Stix on drums, out Animaling the muppets. They are a feast for the eyes, a banquet for the ears and an advert for a large lunchbox.
Opener ‘In The Future’ sums up the nature of their material with every dive bomb, trill, drum fill and pout that the 80’s can throw at us whilst regaling us with a story of futuristic sex robots. Get the picture? ‘Eyes Of The Panther’ is a homage to ladies of the more mature years whilst ‘Goin' in the Backdoor’ is the opening track from their latest album, although clearly concerned with openings of a different variety. Interspersing these musical delights is a fair amount of banter with the crowd. Very amusing, although there were times when the talking went on just a little too long.
‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Tomorrow Night’ are classics from the ‘Feel The Steel’ and ‘Balls Out’ albums respectively and get the gyrating masses singing along with their stage bound heroes with every expletive at full blast. There is something delightfully liberating about shouting the worst of swear words at the top of your voice, amongst likeminded idiots. Now I’m no stranger to the odd expletive, or sexual suggestion, many of which have proved to be anatomically impossible, but Steel Panther take it to whole new extremes. How anyone of a PC nature could not be offended is beyond me but the audience arrive expecting to be shocked and just lap it up. To suggest that the boys are misogynists would be doing misogyny a huge disservice but no one here, especially the women (chicks, babes, birds etc…) are complaining. This is no Presidents Club, more a lechers convention. If you are in any further doubt, check out the setlist.
But to concentrate on the gloriously purile and hugely enjoyable act that is Steel Panther, would be to undermine what excellent musicians these fellas are. You can’t put on a show like this if you haven’t got the musical skills to back it up. Each member has a history of playing in ‘real’ Rock bands and their prowess is unashamedly flaunted for our delight and delectation. Frontman Michael Starr (aka Ralph Saenz) was briefly a singer with LA Guns. axeman Satchel (aka Russ Parrish) has played alongside the likes of Sebastian Bach and Paul Gilbert. Drummer Stix Zadinia (aka Darren Leader) previously played with Parrish in a band called The Thornbirds whilst Bassist Lexi Foxx (aka Travis Haley) formed Steel Panther with Saenz having previously played with him in the previous incarnation Metal Skool.‘Wasted Too Much Time’ and ‘Poontang Boomerang’, also from the latest album, almost feel like ballads before order is restored with Satchel displaying every guitar trick (or is that cliché?) in the book during his outrageously over the top solo medley which includes classic Rock tracks like ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’, ‘Iron Man’ and the genre defining ‘Doh, A Deer……’
A regular feature of a Steel Panther show is the invite for ladies to join the stage show, usually to encourage them to share their charms with the audience. I think even the band were taken aback when the stage was subsequently filled with young girls clamouring to join the party. There must have been sixty odd girls joining in which left the lads swamped. It was an ironically fantastic display of girl power. They completely stole the bands ‘That’s When You Came In’, conducted the crowd singalong to ‘Weenie Ride’ and rocked to ‘17 Girls In A Row’ before being shepherded off of the stage by some harassed looking stage hands. (Dis)order was restored with ‘Glory Hole’ before ending the set with the anthemic ‘Death To All But Metal’. If ever there was a song that should be adopted by all Metal fans as an anthem, this is it. I would like to quote you some of the lyrics but most would be censored and the lawsuits from famous musicians would be many-fold. Go Google them.
For their encore they returned to the stage for the love ballad singalong ‘Community Property’ (“My heart belongs to you, but my cock is community property…”) – Shakespeare would be proud – before signing off with ‘Party All Night’ – something they, and we, would have been quite happy to do. But all good things must come to an end. Battered, bruised, ears ringing but smiling inanely, the crowd disperses back to reality. For a fleeting moment, we were badly behaved children, sniggering to naughty words and remembering a day when this sort of behaviour is what was expected of a rock star. But most of them are dead now. Lemmy once stated that if Motorhead moved next door to you, your lawn would die. If Steel Panther moved next door they would probably try to smoke your lawn instead. After having a chick filled party on it first. Party on dudes.
Steel Panther setlist:
Everybody Wants Some!! (Van Halen song)
In the Future
Eyes of a Panther
Goin' in the Backdoor
Wasted Too Much Time
That's When You Came In
17 Girls in a Row
Death to All but Metal
Party All Day (Fuck All Night)