When Steel Panther play a last-minute gig to a tiny room of people, there’s not a chance in hell we’d miss it. Amit Sharma was down the front at the Old Blue Last watching (hopefully not underage) girls get frisky to some butt metal.
It’s crazy to think that it was just 15 months ago when Steel Panther exploded in the UK with that legendary performance packing out the Tuborg tent at Download Festival 2009. Since then they have managed to pop over on a quarterly basis and develop enough of a following to become a Brixton Academy-sized band. Not bad for just over a year’s work.
Tonight they are treating their fans to a warm up show ahead of tomorrow’s Ozzfest performance, and given the capacity of this East End boozer, tickets were snapped up in a matter of minutes.
Even the backline hired in is an indication of how stripped down this set will be – with tiny combos for guitar and bass, and a beaten-up kit that looks like it’s been used for far too many unsigned band nights. Yet from the opening riff of ‘Asian Hooker’, it is crystal clear that not even this venue’s unflattering acoustics or dodgy rental equipment can stop these LA glamsters from a blistering performance. Sure, there’s feedback here and there, and not the usual crisp production, but the level of musicianship in the band is so high – it doesn’t faze them for a second.
Following on with ‘Crazy Train’ and ‘Cherry Pie’ sets the tone for the rest of the evening, and tonight starts to feel very different from Steel Panther’s other performances. It’s almost like their notorious Monday night residencies at the Key Club on the Sunset Strip, in the sense that it’s even more spontaneous than usual. New song ‘Critter’ (an ode to anal sex, of course) is lapped up instantly by the 140 strong crowd, who sing back the unforgettable words, “Hit Her In The Shitter,” like they’ve known it for years.
More 80s classics go down a storm, with the band at this point even taking requests from the crowd. It’s amazing to see a Steel Panther set like this, less orchestrated and more interactive than normal, which is what the Key Club nights are renowned for. Don’t get me wrong, the band still executes everything note perfectly – but tonight feels like there is less of an agenda.
The quartet gets out the acoustic and shakers for ‘Girl From Oklahoma’ and ‘Community Property’, exploring their softer (or harder) side with some young ladies from the crowd, who have no problem in getting half naked and caressing each other. The audience is obliged to cheer enthusiastically, whilst inside praying to God that tonight is not an under-age show.
Playing on a stage that even the Pet Shop Boys would find boxy doesn’t stop guitarist Satchel and bassist Lexxi Foxxx crossing sides and putting on a stadium rock show without the stadium. There’s even time for Satchel to showcase his virtuoso chops in a 10-minute guitar solo, climaxing with the finger twisting ‘Flight Of The Bumblebee’. Despite playing through an amp shitty enough for most tramps to disown, his jaw-dropping technique and terrifying licks leaves the entire room stunned.
By the end of the show we’ve had as many covers as originals, witnessed singer Michael Starr try to out-shred Satchel on an acoustic (no chance) and seen breasts that haven’t quite fully formed yet. The band close with ‘Eyes Of A Panther’ and once again tear London a new arsehole, just after having sung about fucking one.
Steel Panther @ London Old Blue Last setlist:
Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
Cherry Pie (Warrant cover)
Dr. Feelgood (Mötley Crüe cover)
Livin’ On A Prayer (Bon Jovi cover)
Girl from Oklahoma
Sweet Child O’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses cover)
Turn out the Lights
Every Rose Has Its Thorn (Poison cover)
Eyes of a Panther