Ever wondered what the difference is between a Steel Panther show at their residency in Las Vegas and a one-off show in London? It's like genital warts vs Hogwarts, according to Michael Starr. I much prefer being a fictional character than an STD, so thanks Michael.
My comparison starts with price, with the Vegas show being free entry and the London show setting you back over 20 quid. When you factor in the various fees you now have to pay, you'd imagine that Vegas would be packed and London not so, but it's the complete opposite.
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I caught up with Lexxi and Stix while over in the US and you can listen by clicking here
as to why they prefer playing outside of LA or Vegas. They have been playing over there for years as Metal Skool, a comedy covers band with special guests appearing regularly, but over two years ago they 'rebranded' as Steel Panther. These days they're still a comedy act, but with their own comedy material to add to the mix.
You would have thought that during this time, the Vegas/LA crowd would let them shake off their Metal Skool past, but that's not the case. At Green Valley Ranch, a casino resort in Henderson set in the deep shadows of the Las Vegas strip, the meagre crowd are only happy when they're playing covers and don't take too kindly to any of the 'Feel The Steel' material, and certainly not tracks from their new album. 'Balls Out'. But give them some Motley Crue or Van Halen and they're quite content, singing and dancing along. And plenty of the freeloaders made a beeline for the exit when the comedy took a crass turn.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and a few thousand miles to a damp winter night in London, and it couldn't be more different. This show sold out in less than eight minutes months ago, and the pubs surrounding the Electric Ballroom in Camden are full of Panther fans. Considering it's a Tuesday night, the party spirit is evident.
As we walked into the venue, I looked at the bewildered bar staff trying to figure out how to serve everyone by the end of the night, let alone by the beginning of the show, and that was my first glimpse of the audience. Wow, what a diverse bunch of people, which wasn't conducive to the best atmosphere, as there were quite a few people who wouldn't traditionally be at a rock gig and the venue was definitely over-capacity.
The opening monologue of their new album 'Balls Out' played, the crowd cheered loudly and as they launched into 'Supersonic Sex Machine' it was hard to believe the album had only been out for a few days. Even friends of mine who hadn't heard it were singing along.
But sadly, sound issues hit and the PA kept cutting out, which frustrated the crowd and it was annoying not to hear their new single 'Do You Really Really Love Me?' because of it.
This didn't deter the fans or band, and it wasn't long until the sound was restored. Soon it was Satchel's time to shine with his guitar solo, which I've seen many a time so decided I'd pop outside for some fresh air and escape the crowd for a bit. Looked like vocalist Michael Starr thought the same, but I don't think he was expecting to be bombarded en masse, judging by the look on his face! He had no security with him and everyone wanted a photo and chat. They seemed to forget, however, that he was in the middle of a show and he soon escaped the grips of his adoring fans and retreated back to the safety of the stage. Looking terrified, I might add.
The show continued and the jokes were refreshed from the last time they hit the UK scene and were not as crass as the ones I heard in the US. The set comprised of the entire new album and a few from 'Feel The Steel', but no covers. An odd setlist for a band who've escaped our shores for a while, and the venue should definitely have been bigger to accommodate the amount of people who were there or would have liked to have been there.
So in comparison... Vegas was a cracking show, but the low audience attendance dampened the spirits, and the jokes were a little bit below the 'Balls Out' region. London had the crowd, but was it the right crowd in the right venue? Plus the big thing missing from both was the lack of special guests, which we've all become a little accustomed to with these boys. There was plenty of opportunity at both shows given Las Vegas has stars on tap on a Saturday night, especially with Priest in town the following evening, likewise with them playing London on the eve of the Classic Rock Awards.
That aside, as special guests aren't what makes the show for me, I wish I'd had a mashup of both gigs to make it perfect. But whichever side of the pond you're on, Steel Panther rock it and it's a great night out.
So the final verdict of who wins? There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that LONDON is the victor. Yes, there were sound issues. Yes, they played their entire new album. Yes, the crowd was a little odd. But at least they were there. Music cannot survive without people getting off their butts and going to shows to keep our Metal ecosystem turning. Let's face it, if not, we'll all be subjected to a life of X Factor hell.
London, I salute you \m/