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Live Reviews : Steel Panther @ Forum Theatre, Melbourne 16/05/2018

By on May 17, 2018

Image: John Raptis
Words: Damo Musclecar

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Can you imagine what it must have been like growing up in LA in the 80s as heavy metal was taking off in such a huge way that it would define an era of music that would go on and continue to be a thing in 2018? Yeah, either can I. Thankfully, we have Steel Panther doing what they do to give us a window into that special place in time. They bring back the good times associated with glam rock and heavy metal in the 80s, and if you’ve ever seen the videos bands like Poison and Bon Jovi were making back then, it seems as though the good times never stopped. Well, that is unless the videos you are watching are power ballads cos then they’re usually the opposite, but I digress. There’s been an argument for many years now that grunge killed heavy metal and this band are living proof that this music will live on forever. Grunge didn’t kill shit. Glam rock just took a backseat for a while but as we are repeatedly reminded tonight, heavy metal is back.

Steel Panther promised to bring one hell of a show; a recreation of their time playing residency on the Sunset Strip that saw the band, known then as Metal Skool and then Metal Shop, celebrate the golden era of hair metal by playing covers in tribute to their heroes. A quick search on YouTube would have you find some seriously killer footage of the band in their early days playing these songs note perfect and now we have them right here, in front of us, tonight!

The band’s first set was a pretty stock Steel Panther show. You know what you’re getting; scripted jokes that are often clichéd and sometimes the same ones we heard last tour, or if you went to both shows in Melbourne, the previous night, but it’s the tunes that remain solid. These guys are the perfect party band. They opened with Eyes Of A Panther and dived directly into Goin’ In The Back Door. The band was on fire and such high energy which in turn got everyone movin’ which was amazing in itself because the place was packed solid.

The band have their member introductions before ripping into Asian Hooker, an obvious crowd favourite, while the infectious Just Like Tiger Woods had the entire audience singing in unison. It’s moments like these that you see how Steel Panther connects with their audience in a major way. It ain’t all just about sex, drugs and heavy metal, that’s for sure. This is definitely a well thought out schtick and no one does it quite like these guys, that’s for sure. Whether it’s the power ballads like Community Property or the heavy hitters like Death To All But Metal, this is a show that explores every avenue of the genre and just keeps on giving.

The second set, depending on how you look at it, was either the most anticipated or the most confusing. Like why would you want to see a band play a bunch of covers that are no doubt played in some dive bar by some aging rockers who never quite made it and play on the weekends for beer money? The difference is this was Steel Panther and they take these songs and make them their own. Opening with Motley Crue’s Kickstart My Heart, followed by the Scorpions Rock You Like A Hurricane, which led its way into Van Halen’s Jump, this was party music and everyone on the floor was engaged and singing along. Seeing vocalist Michael Starr recreate the stage personas of Bret Michaels or do the most incredible impersonations of Ozzy Osbourne you’ll ever see, it’s one of those golden moments in heavy metal comedy that should be witnessed by all.

How do you get a sold-out Forum Theatre united as one? You get Melbourne’s very own Joel O’Keefe from Airbourne to lend his vocal talents for a roaring rendition of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell, that’s how! Brilliant stuff.

So let’s face it, whether they’re covering the likes of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Guns N Roses, or just smashing their way through their own originals, Steel Panther have done it right. It is what it is and there’s no point fighting it. Whether you agree with them or not, there’s no denying that they do what they do extremely well. Sure, it’s juvenile, dumb, and quite immature but there’s a genius in doing it this good.

Steel Panther have managed to find a way to keep doing what they do without growing stale with their audience. Who knew, eh? Kudos to them. The Sunset Strip Live experience was a great way to spend a cold Wednesday night in Melbourne. Do yourself a favour. Heavy metal rules.