The mighty Steel Panther!
How do I begin to describe the unique experience of going to a live Steel Panther show? I’m not too sure that is even possible, but let’s take it way back, and start from the beginning.
My first and only time seeing Steel Panther before this show was back in 2015 when they played my hometown of Leicester and since then I’ve been waiting for them to come back over here and play a few gigs. They did do some arena shows in between, but I was unable to attend those, and I do prefer the smaller venues to larger arena shows. At the 2015 show, UK tribute act, Surreal Panther, were on stage for one of the songs and since that I have seen Surreal Panther a few times at local festivals, this will relate to the Rock City gig later.
I heard that Steel Panther were coming back to the UK to tour and as soon as I saw that one of the venues would be Rock City, I checked to make sure I wasn’t working and got my ticket booked so I wouldn’t miss out. There was also the possibility of me going to another show on this tour, but that didn’t end up happening, so I had to make do with this one show.
In the run up to this gig, I had been ill for a few days with the flu, but nothing was going to make me miss this gig and while I probably should have been at home resting, I made my way to Nottingham and arrived at the venue about half an hour before it was time for doors to open.
I’ve only been to a handful of gigs at Rock City and the queue time varies depending on who’s playing. Sometimes you can turn up an hour before and there is already a massive queue, and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be hardly any. When I arrived on this night there was a decent sized queue and I didn’t know how close to the stage I’d be able to get,m but after waiting for the doors to open, I made my way into the venue and managed to find a place close to the middle and only a couple of rows from the front. One advantage to this venue is that they have the upstairs part, so even if you have people in front of you in the queue, they may go up there to get that view of the gig.
There were two support bands on the night, Wayward Sons and Inglorious, both of whom I hadn’t seen before. I didn’t take any photos of Wayward Sons, and then only a few of Inglorious, as when I’m in the crowd taking photos, I try to limit it to the main act as to not constantly get in the way of people around me. Both support bands put on a good performance, they definitely had some fans in the audience as people around me were singing along and rocking out to their music. I’ll check them out on social media and see if they have any other upcoming gig, but as I wasn’t feeling my best, I was kind waiting for Steel Panther.
The lights went down and I saw one of Steel Panthers crew cross the stage and started a timer, which allowed the band to be able to fit all their songs in and have some fun with the audience along the way, all the time knowing how long they had left to get everything in. I know Rock City have a strict curfew and some of their gigs seem to finish earlier than you’d expect, but I guess that’s just because of the area it’s in.
Coming out on to the stage and kicking things off with crowd favourite ‘Eyes of a Panther’, the show was well and truly started. Including all their well known hits with some newer songs off the latest album, everyone in attendance got their money’s worth and in true Steel Panther style, there was quite a bit of audience participation. Some gigs you’ll go to where the band just plays song after song, from start to finish, but not at a Steel Panther show. Interlaced between the songs you have comedy bits between the band members, drum and guitar solos and interaction with the audience.
At one point, Michael Starr noticed someone in the crowd with a sign challenging him to a sing off, so as you’d expect, he was invited on stage to try and back it up. Arriving on stage, singing a couple of different tracks including a cover of ‘Livin on a Prayer’, he held his own but ultimately had to leave so they could continue on with the show. This wouldn’t be the only person to get on stage and sing a bit.
A few songs later I turned around and noticed the lead singer of Surreal Panther was now in the crowd right next to me, after a quick chat during one of the breaks between songs (which isn’t the easiest at a loud gig) I was back to then watching the gig, but it wasn’t too long after that when Michael Starr noticed him and invited him on stage to sing a few songs. Bringing him on stage just before they were about to play one of their newer songs, ‘That’s When You Came In’, Michael suggested that he may not know the words to this one yet, but that wasn’t the case and they did a sort of duet, taking turns to sing and even singing together at times. I don’t know how many other bands would invite their tribute bands singer on stage during one of their gigs. So that’s two times I’ve seen Steel Panther live now, and both times they’ve had all or part of their UK tribute band on stage with them.
A couple of songs later and it was that time in their show that they get a lot of people on stage. With ‘17 Girls in a Row’ coming up, they put an open invitation for any women in the crowd to get on stage if they wanted to, and it was taken up by a lot of people. Being in the second row at this point, people were trying t get past and make their way onto the stage and it got to the point where security had to stop any more coming over the barrier, there were that many now on stage. They stayed up on the stage for that song and the next one, ‘Gloryhole’, before they all then made their way back into the crowd for the final song of the night.
Finishing off their show with ‘Death to All but Metal’, the crowd were really into it and I’ll admit at this point I put the illness behind me and was singing along in the crowd. The song ended, Steel Panther made their way off stage, but that wasn’t the end of the night. With the crowd chanting for more, it wasn’t long before I saw the same crew member from earlier restart the timer at the side of the stage, and this time for a shorter time, so I guessed they were about to come back out for an encore.
Back out they came to finish off with two more songs and they really are crowd favourites, ‘Community Property’ and then ‘Party All Day’. I think throughout the whole of the two final songs everyone around me was singing each and every word along with the band. With those songs finished, they took their place at the front of the stage for the curtain call, and off they went, with Stix throwing his drum sticks into the crowd, and somebody got to take home a bit of memorabilia for themselves.
It was such a good show, they really do know how to put on a great performance and give their fans their money’s worth. If you’ve never been to one of their live shows, it’s hard to actually describe how good it is, I’d just say go and see for yourself, I know I certainly will again the next time they are back over this way.