Review and photos by Peter Coates
The somewhat dated, chrome steel and neon lit Metro City seemed a perfect location for the flashy, trashy, lewd and crude beast of risqué cabaret and vaudeville that is a Steel Panther show, and with the packed house still streaming through the doors, southern US rockers Black Stone Cherry hit the stage and crash into Me and Mary Jane. Definitely Southern, and certainly bluesy, but with some alt-metal nuances, this is a band I have been a fan of for years, and they never fail to deliver a powerful live show.
Frontman Chris Robertson just stands and delivers in his deep-southern drawl while the rest of the band deliver the chaos and mayhem around him. Drummer John-Fred Young upholds his reputation as one of the wildest, loudest drummers around by destroying various parts of the kit throughout the night – a drum tech’s worst nightmare. Ben Wells is either bouncing around the stage, high-kicking over his low-slung guitar, or just laying into the riffs like a nu-metal warrior.
S.O.U.L Machine and White Trash Millionaire ratcheted up the energy levels in the now packed audience, and we got a ripping guitar break from Ben as the intro to Blame it on the Boom Boom, and then another solo from Chris as oldest song The Rambler closed the set proper with a climactic final chorus. Tradition now has it that we get “We are Black Stone Cherry and we play Rock’n’Roll” before the band steamroll their way through a hectic edited version of Ace of Spades dedicated to Lemmy. These guys will be back having made plenty of new friends in Australia.
After the classic rock tracks between sets, the lights dim, and Blackout in the Red Room blasts out of the PA, and the band then strut and pout their way onstage for the insanely catchy Eyes of a Panther, and the gently funny Tomorrow Night as a tasty entrée before the morally and politically incorrect banquet that follows. Fat Girl lowers the tone, and all one can do is take it as a brand of humour and try hard not to be offended – and most of the crowd seemed to be happy to do so!
The 10 minute chatshow that follows is a ribald and grossly offensive conversation among the band, which consists of some classic one liners about their respective musical talents, and plenty of commentary about the mainly female front-row – most of whom had bought into the joke directly with VIP tickets, paying to get various body parts autographed. Tiger Woods is a smutty piece of quite witty social commentary, which is probably not how you’d describe Let Me Cum In, and then Perth struggled to provide a suitable victim for the onstage participation in Asian Hooker, so we got an American edition instead, and a second assistant for Gold Diggin Whore!
Satchel is certainly no slouch on guitar, and his solo cameo builds up to the crescendo of classic riffs being churned out while he keeps time on the bass drum and kit, including a note perfect version of our national anthem. Then the band returns, with Michael Starr in red sparkly frock coat for the best song of the set, Ten Strikes which reminds us all what a top-notch rock band this could be.
From this point on, the set loses structure, and the acoustic soft-porn diatribe of Girl From Oklahoma including a cameo piece of poetic license from drummer Stix Zadinia, is the forerunner for large number of scantily clad local ladies getting on stage, initially for the hook-laden 17 Girls, but then refusing to exit through Glory Hole and Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’, and this old fart was hoping for a return to the rock show. The Stage manager eventually worked out who to keep backstage and who to kick back into the audience, and we got the classic, heavily ironic anthem, Death to all but Metal, which pretty much started the Steel Panther phenomenon, and closed the set with a roar.
Perth was enjoying being the last night of the tour, and the chants of “Panther…..Panther” grew until the boys reappeared for Community Property and a monumental Party All Day, which stripped back the shlock comedy and delivered as an 1980s quality glam rock band should, along with some very cheesy choreography from Satchel and Lexxi Foxx. Whatever your view on the X-rated content, the show itself is mainly a high-energy, brilliantly staged and lit showcase of hair-metal excess, and that side of the band should be celebrated.
As for the seamy underbelly of the show and the aftermath, I can only imagine what the clubs in Northbridge looked like later on……but it seems the Steel Panther profile remains strong and strangely attractive to many down under!
Review and photos by Peter Coates
Headliner: Steel Panther
Supports: Black Stone Cherry
Venue: Metro City, Perth
Date: June 23, 2016