Come on guys, it’s 2023! Is there really still room for a band like Steel Panther? This is a joke that’s gotten way out of hand, a joke that’s even lasted twice as long as the genre it parodies. The shockingly vulgar content of the songs, the sexism, the penis jokes…this just shouldn’t be happening anymore, right? Wrong! Steel Panther are in town, and the two and a half thousand of us packed into the Manchester Academy are ready to stick two fingers up at those who would love to cancel the Los Angeles shock rockers.
Winger are tonight’s support act, and they do a tremendous job warming up the crowd. I have often witnessed support bands turn up and not really look interested, but the New York rockers look like they are thoroughly enjoying themselves throughout.
This crowd-pleasing set is mostly comprised of material from their two most popular albums – their self-titled debut album and the follow-up, In The Heart Of The Young. Headed For Heartbreak sees Steel Panther lead singer Michael Starr join them on stage. Front man Kip Winger then leads the crowd in singing Happy Birthday to Starr, something we would do numerous times later on in the evening!
Everything about the glam metallers performance is so polished – the pounding drums from Rod Morgenstein, the classic guitar solo posing from Reb Beach, Paul Taylor and John Roth – and Kip’s vocals are note-perfect.
Easy Come Easy Go and Madalaine round off the set, ending what was a sublime slice of ‘80s nostalgia that was a pleasure to watch from start to finish.
Steel Panther take to the stage and open up with probably their cleanest track, Eyes Of A Panther, a song that could legitimately be from the ‘80s hair metal era that their whole act is based on.
Let Me Cum In sets the tone for the rest of the night however, as the band turn the vulgarity switch up to 11.
There’s a long break until the next song, during which lead guitarist Satchel introduces the rest of the band. Steel Panther shows are always as much about the on-stage banter as the music, and Satchel in particular is such a great orchestrator of this. New member Spyder gets a huge ovation from the crowd, being welcomed to the band in place of bassist Lexxi Foxx, who left last year.
Perhaps their most controversial track – that’s certainly a debate for another day – Asian Hooker, sees a female from the audience join the band on stage, dancing and gyrating, and providing a visual that made the moment feel even more hilariously inappropriate.
All I Want To Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight), The Burden Of Being Wonderful and Friends With Benefits keep the party atmosphere going. Much of the crowd are dressed in the same over-the-top 80s rock attire as their heroes on stage, with more eyeliner being worn by the men than the women!
Steel Panther @ Manchester Academy
A brilliant guitar solo by Satchel is a reminder that he is just as insanely talented as he is funny, and this allows the rest of the band to take a quick breather before returning for Death To All But Metal, their breakthrough anthem that takes aim at just about everyone in the pop industry.
Ain’t Dead Yet – an acoustic-style ballad about the perils of being an ageing rocker – sees Michael Starr take on guitar duties, Stix moving from drums to keyboard, with Spyder left to play his one and only note on the wind chimes at the end of the song.
Two girls are brought on stage to be serenaded in turn by each of the band members, who make up lyrics on the spot, predictably full of sexual innuendo and bravado. They take this in good nature, although I’m sure their partners were left squirming as the girls were handed backstage passes!
Crowd participation is a big part of any Steel Panther show – strangely it only ever involves the girls – and Party All Day sees the stage swarmed by around 30 lucky ladies, who get to rock out and take selfies as the night starts to come to a close.
Fan favourite Community Property provides the biggest singalong moment, before a raucous rendition of Glory Hole rounds off this night of truly glorious debauchery, sending everyone home with a huge smile on their face.
This was a wild and ridiculously fun night of laughter and face-melting rock, which proved that there’s plenty of mileage left in Steel Panther yet.
Review of Steel Panther at the Manchester Academy on 17th May 2023 by Will Maxwell. Photography by Joe Jones.