Given their lyrical content, it's easy to understand why mock-rockers Steel Panther aren't regularly featured in mainstream media, but tonight's show being sold-out at an upgraded venue size is testament to good music not needing to be on Radio 1 to reach an audience. This is the band's first performance in the city and they've attracted a mixture of younger generations and veteran fans of the genre, all keen to see if Steel Panther live up to their fierce live reputation.
Warmed up by a DJ set of classic metal tracks, Steel Panther hit the stage to a rapturous greeting and launch into 'Eyes Of A Panther', which allows them to quickly display impressive music ability and Michael Starr's ear-bending screech. Rock poses are struck regularly as they role into 'Asian Hooker', where the first signs of the band's comedy is displayed as guitarist Satchel and bassist Lexxi Foxxx fight over a microphone for backing vocals. Indeed much of he enjoyment of the show comes from the band's comic ability, where they regularly make fun of audience members, each other and themselves, with the majority of cracks revolving around sex - but not always with humans. Some of the skits are obviously planned (though that doesn't stop a routine involving The Village People's 'Y.M.C.A.' being anything less than side-splitting) but there's also an intelligence to adapt the show to their surroundings, such as mocking Liverpool and, unusually for a Manchester crowd, getting a chorus of booing for the seemingly departed Oasis.
Back to the tunes and it's clear from the mass sing-a-longs that 'Community Property' and 'Fat Girl' have become crowd anthems, while 'Party All Day' is the perfect soundtrack for this evening shindig. The band also invites a competition winner to perform 'Death To All But Metal', before keeping him on stage for a standard cover of AC/DC's 'Highway To Hell'. Another borrowed track, Van Halen's 'Jump' begins the encore and sees a string of ladies from the crowd sharing the stage with the band, none of whom seem to complain as they writhe around one another but still keep up their level of performance. The rather fittingly titled 'Turn Out The Lights' is an aggressive number to end proceedings and allows those assembled to have a final dance before showing their appreciation for the Panthers, who easily dispel any thoughts that they are a Spinal Tap cash-in. The mixture of music and comedy is perfect and as long as they keep their gags fresh then they'll be a live act worth revisiting repeatedly.
Official Site -