The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Steel Panther and Black Stone Cherry - Live Review

June 23rd 2016

Steel Panther

Steel Panther - our love affair with them began an ocean away in a small club on the Sunset Strip where they were one of the 'must see' bands on any visit to tinsel-town. Many moons later and much closer to home Steel Panther has made Australia a regular stop off on their global trek, filling out venues along the way (Perth tonight is sold out completely). For a band so entrenched in comedy, and some would argue parody of the late eighties 'big hair' scene it's a paradox that while so many of the bands they so obviously revere from back in the day are now doing so little they seem to be picking up a lot of moss as that stone rolls ever on and on. People love Steel Panther and like the scene in the eighties, it's pretty much split between male and female, which given their lyrical content, must amaze and dismay the PC police. They largely of course miss the point: back in the day despite it's sleazy overtones music like this was always fun. Don't get us wrong, these guys are seriously gifted musicians, their songs stand up to some of the best music of the day and their onstage antics may be over the top, but then this is a rock show - what do you expect?


Another good thig about Steel Panther is that they always bring over the best bands with them - last time out we got Fozzy and Buckcherry, the latter a band that really flies the flag for Sleazy rock, albeit with a largely straighter face. This time round we get the band that the rest of the world and particularly the UK and Europe can't get enough of - Black Stone Cherry - one of the best rock bands out there at the moment and who are taking their first crack at Australia. On previous visits they've played with Slash and stormed the now defunct Soundwave main stage.

In the lead up to the show we caught up with Ben (guitar), Jon (bass) and John Fred (drums) from Black Stone Cherry and you can check out their interviews on our interviews page. We also took time out to catch up with Stix from Steel Panther and you can read that interview there too (links at the end of the review). Our interview with Chris from Black Stone Cherry where he talks about the tour is also available to watch below.
Back to the show...

It's always great to see a packed house for a support band and as this is not just another support band, Metro City is already buzzing in anticipation by the time Black Stone Cherry takes the stage. And Kentucky's finest sure made an impact tonight with a (sadly) short set that featured heavily songs from 2011's 'Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea' and this year's 'Kentucky' as well as tracks from their self-titled debut, 'Folklore and Superstition' and 'Magic Mountain'.

For anyone that has seen the band before, you know what you get with these guys - great songs, well played and a set brimming with passion and real fury. Black Stone Cherry is a band you simply need to see if you love real Rock and Roll. Chris Robertson may command centre stage but he's more than ably backed by the whirling guitarist and partner-in-crime Ben Wells and a solid as steel rhythm section in Jon Lawhon who has a real feel for the bass that far surpasses most of his peers and John Fred Young who pounds those drums like Bonham and has to be one of the most exciting drummers to watch.

If you like your rock catchy as hell and with a real Southern grit with some real dirt under the fingernails then Black Stone Cherry is the band you'll keep coming back to: and with possibly the best record of their career out this year you can only expect to see these guys back soon, bigger, bolder and even better. When you have a set of songs this damned good you don't need the lights and stage effects, you just need to hear them play and the reaction they got on this their first visit to Australia said it all, raised fists and beers and a really vocal Perth crowd.

Closing the set with a cover of Motörhead's Ace of Spades was a damned nice touch too, saluting the recently departed Lemmy may have cheated us of one other original but it was a great way to underline what was one of the best sets you'll hear all year. Long before 'Ace of Spades', Black Stone Cherry owned the Perth crowd to an extent you don't often see from support acts. It won't be long, Chris tells us, before they'll be back and headlining.

What more proof do you need of the appeal of Steel Panther than a sold out show in Australia's hardest town to sell out? Even the shitty weather couldn't keep the intriguingly attired crowd away tonight who come bedecked in either wigs and spandex (there must have been a spandex rush on this week in Perth) or eighties band t-shirts.

With a packed house there weren't many Panther 'virgins' in tonight, but if you were then I'm sure the spectacle had a far different effect than it does on the faithful. The cringe-worthy lyrics offset with over the top humour and onstage banter really do make a Panther show just that - a show, but it's the musicianship that holds it all together. Sure it's 1987 all over again, and sure that's why a portion of the crowd look kinda old and crusty, but there's more than a good few handfuls of guys and chicks who couldn't have been out of diapers when the eighties rock scene ruled the airwaves and album charts.

Whatever you think of the decidedly un-PC aspects of the show (and that's pretty much from go to whoa) you can't take away the fact that these guys created the genre and rule it to this day. If you take the music in isolation Panther are a more than competent hard rock band, if you fixate on the seediness then you both miss the point, and probably should stay at home watching dull reality TV.

Of course the show is seriously bitchin'! Of course it's over the top, and as the culmination of a decade and a half's hard work it is a piece of art in itself. It's comedy; it's farce; it's a celebration of the party that Hair Metal was before Nirvana ruined it all for us with their self-righteousness and shoe-gazing self-obsession: and it's also damned good fun. And if it doesn't make you wince in places it's not doing it's job!

Sure you can write off Steel Panther as a comedy act but that completely misses almost the entire point, this is a show to enjoy, to let yourself go at, to live a little, to celebrate and forget the last three decades. Some of us loved 'Love/Hate' and to hear 'Blackout in the Red Room' burst from the speakers before Steel Panther take the stage is a nod to those of us who were there, and not only that it's a nod to us who knew the good stuff from the Poison! (And yes it was a pleasure to type the details of that song into a young twenty-something's phone - good luck on i-tunes with that one!).

As far as the setlist went tonight it felt like a 'Greatest Hits' set taking heavily on 2009's 'Feel the Steel' and 2011's 'Balls Out' which made up six songs each of the 15 song setlist leaving only 'Fat Girl' from the debut 'Hole Patrol' and a pair from the latest studio opus 2014's 'All You Can Eat' in 'Ten Strikes and You're Out' and 'Gloryhole'. As Stix told us though a few weeks ago, the next album could well be the album of their career though I did expect one of the new tracks off of 'Lexxi's Mom's Garage...' to get a workout?

Still you can't argue that Steel Panther didn't give the crowd the 'sing-along, fists in the air' night they wanted as the off the blue lyrics fill the air and the crowd pump it enthusiastically! From the off it's no stop mayhem with the expected opener 'Eyes Of A Panther' setting the way before 'Tomorrow Night' and 'Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)' hit you like a triple sucker punch, it's hard to spot anyone not moving, even at the bars!

Starr is of course everything he wants to be and more, and Satchel equally adept at hogging the limelight whilst Lexxi and Stix fill the bit parts you'd expect from the backline. Set pieces like 'Girl From Oklahoma' still bring a smile (though I've seen it as 'Girl from Orange County' more than once, so it's a shame that some of Australia's suburbs don't get a namecheck) but at the end of the day it really is all about the party and the set is nothing but a party.

The main set closes with 'Death To All But Metal' the song that really tells you what this is all about - the glory of late eighties rock against all else, and for those of us that still believe it's the song that really sums it all up - this music whether played for laughs or not is what matters to us all and god bless Steel Panther for keeping it alive.

Encores of course are the same as ever - the singalong 'Community Property' and the party anthem 'Party All Day (Fuck All Night)' it's wild, it's hot and it's sweaty and the crowd is already counting the days until the next time Steel Panther invade this town. The Sunset Strip had it right - you need a Steel Panther show in your town every week. Despite what you might have thought ten years ago Steel Panther is still a joke that's not worn thin, still a great business model and god bless Spinal Tap for giving them the idea - we might never get that eighties rock revival some of us dream of but until then Steel Panther will suffice. Roll on the next album and tour... And remember the name of the support band - Black Stone Cherry - they will be back real soon to give us another hit of real Rock and Roll.

STEEL PANTHER SETLIST: Eyes of a Panther | Tomorrow Night | Fat Girl (Thar She Blows) | Just Like Tiger Woods | Let Me Cum In | Asian Hooker | Gold Digging Whore | Guitar Solo | Ten Strikes You're Out | Girl From Oklahoma | 17 Girls in a Row | Gloryhole | Eatin' Ain't Cheatin' | Death to All but Metal | Encore: Community Property | Party All Day (Fuck All Night)

Interview with Stix of Steel Panther
Interviews with Black Stone Cherry
Ben Wells | John Fred Young | Jon Lawhon | Chris Robertson |

Photo Gallery - click to enlarge

Review by The Buffman
Photos by The Rockpit