A three-band line up on a school night always sounds tempting, but when you throw 3 completely different bands into the mix it then gets interesting.
Tonight’s show consists of Toby Jepson’s brand-new band Wayward Son’s as opening support. This band see’s Jepson taking on a slightly heavier than usual sound, much to a lot of his fans delight, having a set list made almost entirely from their debut album ‘Ghosts of yet to Come’, it promises to be an interesting opening set. They are followed by singing sensation, Nathan James’ outfit, Inglorious here promoting their new album Inglorious 11. Over the past 12 months Inglorious have been seen gigging in all corners of the country. After a successful festival season seeing them playing even the smaller arenas such as Steelhouse in Ebbw Vale (south Wales) to a very appreciative crowd. And then headlining tonight are America’s answer to Spinal Tap, the Parody band to end all parody’s; the jaw dropping, beautifully vulgar Steel Panther. In a high energetic, entertaining, if a little close to the knuckle 90-minute show of bad taste and innuendo!
Start the night off with a bang. Walking onto a somewhat cramped stage they waste no time in getting into the opening song ‘Alive’. Jepson, with white flying V hanging low stands centre stage, hair over his face as that fabulous voice has the crowd heads bouncing around the venue. Its only 19:30 but there is a good turnout for this experienced frontman. Jepson has lost none of his stage prowess. His voice is triumphant, strong and rich as it crashes through the musical barrage laid down by his new band. Sam Wood on Guitar is no slouch as his Les Paul screams and cries under his deft touch, Phil Martini on drums is as epic as ever, keeping beat but still looking cool, and to Jepson’s left; and occupying most of the stage is the restless Nic Wastell. His thunderous thunderbird bass being waved about as if it was a mere toothpick, carving shapes like the Dad dancer that’s in all of us. Sadly, as opening support act of a 3-band night, and a curfew of 23:00, they only had a 30-minute set. That being said they crammed as much as they could into the time. Apart from repeatedly telling the crowd that they would be appearing at Download this summer, it was on with the show, and the recruiting of new fans.
Are up next. Sailing high on a raft of recent shows, the boys, buoyant as ever come onto the stage. The band strike up ‘Read All About It’ from the new Inglorious 11 album (track 4). Phil Beaver, on drums has his hair flying all over the place as he lays down the beat, the guitars kick into the catchy riff and the scene is set for twinkle toes Nathan James to waft onto the stage, blonde locks flying in direct competition with his sequinned jacket glinting as the lights bounce from it. The smile on James’s face shows his approval of the cheers and shouts from the fans in the crowd, of which there are plenty. A more relaxed set follows, again only 30 minutes long, but in that time this ex Siberian orchestra frontman proves beyond doubt that he is the voice of the moment. With ‘luuvy’ hand gestures and scorching vocals, James prowls the stage delivering a masterclass in old school Classic Rock. Being backed up by a tight confident band this was always going to make it an easy night for him, they deliver, tight, musical and entertaining, each one owning their place on the stage. They play a set of only 8 songs half being off the latest album, the ingeniously named ‘Inglorious 11’. Yet again time is up and they finish their set with what’s fast becoming their anthem, ‘Holy Water’ and ‘Until I `Die’, both off Inglorious 1. A great set and a clever way to go from down and dirty Rock N Roll of Toby Jepson and Wayward Son’s to the headline act that is.
Parody rock and roll does not come more politically incorrect, in your face and down right as naughty as what this four piece from across the pond lay down. Having built up a reputation as being wrong on every level and the band to see, it’s not surprising that Rock City is sold out such is their draw. The Steel Panther crowd is made up of all ages, some dressed to emulate their favourite, others to attract attention, obviously no mum filter there!
As the 90-minute countdown timer is started on stage by one of the roadies ‘Lexxi, ‘Stix’ and ‘Satchel’ clad in tight lycra, strut on to the stage and take up their positions, ‘Michael Star’ joins them quickly and confidently. Pointing and smiling to pretend friends in the audience, and then the drums kick in joined quickly by both guitar and bass, ‘Eyes of the Panther’ opens the show, Satchels new Signature Yellow Bengal Charvel screaming under his fingers as Starr rips into the vocal. His voice soaring, smashing the rafters as he screams along to the song. Without doubt Steel Panther can rock; they bring back that lost sound of 80’s big hair cock rock and the crowd are loving it; singing along to the chorus, the whole of Rock City is bouncing and this is just the opening song.
‘Goin’ in the Backdoor’ follows, this is from their new album “LOWER THE BAR’ and with a great play on words, very little imagination is needed to make it very apparent which ‘Backdoor’ is being referred too. The Steel Panther Show, for that’s what it is, is a jaw droppingly surreal visit into a world of continual sexual references and innuendo. Never coming across as gross or indecent it’s highly entertaining, how times have changed, I can’t help thinking Mary Whitehouse would have loved them.
Gynaecological body parts, sex and perverse practices litter the set, interrupted by imaginatively worded songs of an equally descriptive sexual nature.
Satchel steers a lot of the banter, bouncing off Starr with poor old lip glossing, mirror pouting, Lexxi being on the end of a lot of their jibes as the show flows like a well lubed machine. He is stupid after all his guitar only has 4 strings and that makes it easy to play, just ask Gene Simmons (KISS). ‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Tomorrow Night’ follow and then the only cover of the night, Bon Jovi’s ‘Living on a prayer’ all played to a receptive crowd.
Satchels solo features riffs from Judas Priest, the Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Metallica and Black Sabbath, in fact he finishes his solo at the drum kit playing the Iron Man intro complete with kick drum and snare.
Surreal Panther, a Derby based tribute band are in the crowd. Being friends of the band Jamie Fowkes joins the band on stage to sing “That’s When You Came In’, sharing vocal duties, this Michael Starr tribute gets to help sing this ballad referring to the act of performing a blowjob. Despite being dragged over the barrier by a surprised Bouncer, Jamie has a bit of ‘chunk’ to him, he did a great job, shame they didn’t drag the rest of the band on stage.
‘Weenie Ride’ follows and then it’s time to get the girls on to the stage for ’17 Girls In A Row’ saying that the record for girls on a stage is 52, Nottingham does its best to improve on that. The stage is swamped with girls of all shapes and sizes, writhing about enjoying their minutes of fame.
Despite repeated requests for the girls to show the band their boobies as at every Steel Panther I can report that none where seen.
With that, the sex, drugs and rock n roll continues, the crowd loving every minute of this highly Entertaining set; finishing on ‘Party All Day (Fuck All Night)’ so Steel Panther. On Time too. 90 minutes of over the top sexual innuendo come to an end, Parody rock is well and truly alive and it’s got a very supportive and growing fan base.
Say what you like about the Scripted Show, but it’s everything it promises to be. This wig toting band don’t take themselves too seriously, however they can play, and play well! Each one of them has massive musical talent which is very evident when you see them live.
The 80’s may be long gone but for 90 minutes Rock City was back there and loving it.
Words & pics: Manny Manson