Live Review: Steel Panther

30th April - House of Blues, Los Angeles
Review by Matt Clarke

It's a long time since I've been to a pantomime. My recollection of them is somewhat hazy, but last night's performance by Steel Panther at House of Blues on Sunset Strip definitely stirred those memories.

First of all there are the bright, garish costumes. Imagine Mötley Crüe or Van Halen in their prime: snakeskin trousers, skin-tight lycra, denim and ripped t-shirts. Oh, and bandana's of course.

Then there's the audience participation. I don't just mean singing along with the chorus. One Belgian guy was invited up to sing one of the band's ballards (Community Property) – not just with them, but leading it, which he did brilliantly to the band's clear delight. And at one point there must have been about 10 girls plucked from the crowd all dancing up on stage. Admittedly, the band were trying their hardest to get them to remove their shirts at the time, with a surprisingly high success rate.

The show itself was almost a 50/50 mix of music and talking to the crowd, with the band truly in control of everyone in the room. They obviously feel at home in the venue, playing there every week, and this frees them up to just see where the night takes them. Last night was a good mix of their own material blending seamlessly with covers of Guns N' Roses and Mötley Crüe classics. Their exploration of Whitesnake's Here I Go Again was a particular highlight.

Steel Panther certainly know how to put on a performance, and they play both their instruments and their over-the-top characters well, and clearly enjoy doing it. It's definitely not a family-friendly show, with most of the humour being that of hormonally-charged teenage boys, and if you're put off by constant colourful references to sex it's not going to be for you. But that much fun on stage can't help but rub off on the audience. I for one shall be going back for more next week.