Words: Brendan O’Mahony
Pics: © Olga Kuzmenko Photography
A cold and rainy Tuesday night has brought with it the full onslaught of ‘80s Metal nostalgia as Steel Panther kick off their European Sunset Strip Live tour in Vicar Street, Dublin. Part comedy act, full-on musical expertise the headliners hark back to simpler times when big hair, big riffs and high-pitched, catchy vocals full of sexual innuendos were the catalysts for a good time. Such is the celebratory tone to the evening some of those in attendance have gone the whole hog with neon spandex, denim jackets and bouffant wigs, further adding to the pageantry.
The opening act is Gus G, a guitar virtuoso, who has previously played with the legendary Ozzy Osbourne and is a current member of the Greek Power Metal band Firewind. Tonight, however is all about the solo project, out on the road promoting the new album Fearless which was released in April last year. The three-piece blitz through a forty-minute set including new tracks Mr. Manson and Don’t Tread On Me, the official video for which was released a few days previously, alongside Let It Go, not a Frozen cover mind you, and a heavy interpretation of Money For Nothing from Dire Straits. Closing out the set with I Am The Fire and getting the first sing along with the crowd for the evening, Gus G and his band have done their duty and warmed up the crowd nicely.
The void between bands is filled by a DJ onstage, dressed as Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World, playing tracks from Aerosmith to ZZ Top and keeping the atmosphere going as inflated condoms begin to float overhead. Decked out as he is, the DJ couldn’t let the chance to play Bohemian Rhapsody pass ensuring the metal heads in attendance are in full voice for the imminent arrival of the main act.
In the space of a year on these shores Steel Panther have moved from a night each in Dublin and Belfast, playing the Academy and the Limelight during the Lower The Bar tour, to now having two nights in Vicar Street and a night in the Ulster Hall, both significant capacity upgrades, which is a testament to their work ethic and growing popularity. Initially perceived by some as a joke, the headliners are now four full albums and an EP in. People are no longer laughing at them, they are laughing with them, fully embracing the satirical side and acknowledging their genuine love for all things ‘80’s metal.
Racing straight into Eyes Of A Panther and Goin’ In The Backdoor, Lexxi, Satchel, Michael and Stix are immaculate in their execution. A bit of momentum is lost as the comedy routine rachets up with singer and guitarist discussing their musical background and their drugs of choice, but for those who have never seen the band it is part of the experience. Two Mötley Crüe covers in Shout At The Devil and Kickstart My Heart have the crowd moving along with Fat Girl (Thar She Blows) and Asian Hooker. A spot-on Ozzy impression from Michael for Crazy Train is then followed up by the one-man musical solo from Satchel, riff dropping all the greats from Maiden and Priest to Scorpions and Metallica and even throwing in a bass drum part for good measure.
The second half of the show kicks off with Party All Day before nearly all the ladies in attendance are brought up onstage for the Def Leppard cover Pour Some Sugar On Me and Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer. Selfies, hugs and expressions of love for the tits and ass on show all ensue before the girls are led offstage and the crowd vocally lead the opening verse of Community Property, much to the delight of the band. Finishing with the trio of Death To All But Metal, 17 Girls and Gloryhole Steel Panther prove why metal still is the greatest genre there has been or will ever be.