After a few years away, glory hole connoisseurs Steel Panther are finally on the prowl in the UK as they arrive in Manchester. Their intention was to show off some of the most outrageous shenanigans while giving Manchester the pounding it had been waiting for almost three years. Winger would provide foreplay before watching Steel Panther finish everybody off.
Winger opened and despite being looked down upon by music snobs in the 80s and 90s, they were phenomenal. Their set was filled with classic material like Can’t Get Enuff and the iconic Seventeen, a song that features some really dated and uncomfortable lyrics but that would be a running theme for the night. At least the guitar solo was amazing though.
Winger are not an especially heavy band but the guitar tone had some heft to it. Tracks like Junkyard Dog and the more modern tracks like the bouncy groove of Proud Desperado and the surprisingly Thrashy Pull me Under helped them sound more contemporary in between the classic tracks from the 80s.
Winger were unfairly written off by a lot of people but everyone in the band is an absolute master at their instrument. The guitar work is stellar and at times is reminiscent of Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme due to the huge tapping segments and the set even ends with a triple guitar harmony which is difficult to pull off correctly but they nailed it.
Winger ended their set with the sing along classics Easy Come Easy Go and the track that started it all, Madeleine. The guitar work during this final stretch was stellar and they’ve completely proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with and their presence made this show worth seeing. Hopefully they’ll be back to our shores very soon. After a short intermission and a Homerian odyssey to the bathroom, Steel Panther blasted on stage to thunderous applause as they dove straight into Eyes of a Panther. The riffing feels like something straight out of the 80s and the attitude feels really authentic, this song feels like it could have been a Shark Island song from back in the day but with much better musicianship. Let me Come in was a personal highlight of the show, the bluesy swagger really scratches that itch and soothes the burn with infectious hooks. Asian Hooker was one of the more notable instances of shenaniganery (yes, it’s a word). Complete with a topless Asian woman on stage that seemed like more of a prop than a performer. By now you should probably know what kind of show you’re in for, constant vulgarity and humour that could be deemed problematic or dated and if that’s your bag then fill your boots.
The music throughout the show was amazing, genuinely well done glam metal with incredible guitar work, drumming and Michael Starr’s vocals and stage presence are comparable to David Lee Roth himself. As musicians, these guys are the real deal but as comedians, they might need some new material. There were some really funny moments including my new favourite phrase “Kip Winger’s dick”, something about the combination of syllables and the absurdity of seeing him just 20 minutes earlier made it funnier than it should have been but maybe I’m just eternally 13.
Some tracks genuinely stand alone as great songs regardless of the bit like the metal elitist national anthem, Death to All But Metal which was a groundbreaking track in comedy rock back when it came out in 2009 and still holds up as a genuinely good song years later which is a sign of a truly great parody song. 1987 was a really loving tribute to the decade that gave us Thatcher, the Cold War, Reaganomics, the war on drugs, Howard the Duck, but at least Tooth and Nail was a good album. Shout out to all the people that became their parents and started saying things like “things were better back in my day” as they slowly plod along into their 60s.
Steel Panther are the type of band that you get the full experience from listening to on the album, if that doesn’t work for you then a Steel Panther show is not for you. It can be really effective in short bursts but the moments in between songs have a tendency to get old. As songwriters, they can put together hilarious tracks like Community Property and Glory Hole, which ended the show, but their on stage banter becomes really repetitive after a bit. There’s only so many dick jokes and references to having sex and partying before you start wanting something more substantial. In a weird meta way, it’s the same feeling of the early 90s when the original glam movement died.
Steel Panther are a band that requires you to have a pretty crass sense of humour, that’s not a bad thing but it is essential. Your tolerance for dick jokes has to be pretty high since they make up a massive amount of the set which is disappointing considering how much great music is available throughout Steel Panther’s back catalogue. Perhaps they just blew their load a bit early on the comedy but the majority of the audience was lapping it up. When Steel Panther finishes, you should ask yourself “was it good for you?” or should you go find Kip Winger’s dressing room?
Words: Dale Unsworth
Photos: Izzy Clayton