Live Review: Steel Panther (Download Festival, 14/06/14)

Read my interviews with STEEL PANTHER, and ANDY COPPING here.

Photo by Jenna Foxton
Photo by Jenna Foxton

The legendary Download Festival promoter Andy Copping, alongside his just as legendary cowboy hat, takes to the stage to introduce one very special band. They are good-looking. They are talented. They are loud. They are legends. And there are…?

“I am of course talking about Van Halen.”

After so many years, he’s still after them. Already, the supposed (and undoubtedly fictional) transparency of Download Festival’s management, and the proceedings that led to their replacement Steel Panther, make this upcoming hour-long set, a complete mess. After all, one question remains unanswered. There are so many inflatable penises and naked woman, so were they handed out? After all, as one of the last acts of the day, and that warrants a shower of balloons.

It would be of no surprise. This is STEEL PANTHER. As a comedy rock quartet, it’s to be expected.

If so, it would be a compromise on restrictions. The Download Festival Manual, Book 9, Section 5, states that bands must not ask for circle pits. Together, the band and together learn one more rule – despite a Steel Panther attracting a rate of at least one pair ever minute, no more titties (the guys’ euphemism of choice today) were allowed on the camera. When the audience finally appeared on screen, they are treated to one overweight and decrepit after a weekend camping, squeezing his manboobs together. Lovely.

Those awkward pauses as Michael complains, strangely hurt the pace of the set.

The rest of the onstage banter, is side-splittingly funny, but a little long, as one session, alternating between a one-by-one introduction of band members (and the band members’ ‘members’) and general filth for a solid ten minutes. However hilarious the image of the Casanovas of the band “double fucking the lead singer from The Pretty Reckless”, it’s hard to be quite sure why many attendees are pleased when the next dirty track about a dirty girl, the as-Chinese-as-smutty-glam-metal-can-get ‘Asian Hooker’. Is it a fan favourite, or relief that the music had returned? Besides, they missed out on an opportunity by not calling them ‘The Titty Reckless’.

While they are not the aforementioned Van Halen, it is undeniable that Los Angeles’ premier glam metallers are outrageously good performers and musicians, with a guitarist Satchel’s fingers rapidly in tangles, amongst a potential lecture on what else to do with those fingers, is a crazy stream of skill and entertainment. The ballad-esque ‘Girl From Oklahoma’ comes after a quip about the waft of “Oklahoma pussy”, to which Michael adds “Out here they refer to it as ‘Essex pussy’”, ushering in the biggest laugh of the night. That horrifying accuracy, in an inescapable TOWIE-era, cements Steel Panther as honorary citizens of the United Kingdom.

They hang onto the crowd despite so much chatter, and with a Wembley Arena show on its way, it wouldn’t be a surprise were they to headline this festival one day, so long as the rest of extended set is actually made of their stream of surprisingly brilliant songs.


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