May 28, 2014

Steel Panther bring 80s metal back to Toronto

I can see through time.

It's 1988 in here.

Mullets abound, even though they're almost all wigs. Devil horns. Metal t-shirts. Hairspray. Zebra stripe pants. Leather miniskirts. High, high heels. Headbands. Eye make-up on the boys and the girls. Big hair. And everyone with a high tolerance for dirty-minded lyrics and in a mood for fun.
Outside The Sound Academy, a bride and groom are posing for photos with the Toronto skyline in the background. Back inside it's an 80s heavy metal Halloween. There's even a dude dressed as the shocker.
Between bands they're playing tunes including Quiet Riot's "Metal Health", Whitesnake's "Slide It In", AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill", Cinderella's "Shake Me" and finally Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast" is cranked up to signify the coming of the band we've all been waiting for, Steel Panther.
One thing is clear - these guys can play. They came to entertain and that's what they did. Their songs walk a line between tribute and parody of the best of the 80s metal scene. They even play up bands like Slayer. Between songs they lead us through some fascinating stories and general banter, as well as regaling us with the opening riffs to famous 80s metal tunes. And we all knew the night wouldn't be right without a full on Van Halen style heavy metal guitar god solo. Was I the only one left wondering, "Where's the drum solo?"
And they're funny. Their R- to X-Rated lyrics poke fun at the machismo of 80s metal and make the whole Steel Panther package unique and brilliant. Glad I got to catch the show. Glad I got to photograph them. These guys know how to pose it up for the camera. I think I know what it was like to photograph bands back in the days of the classics like Van Halen and Mötley Crüe only with the glory of digital. In short, fun show and I'd definitely see them again.
Here are some of my personal highlights from the show:

Show opener "Pussywhipped" is from their latest All You Can Eat. It was followed by two more tunes that I didn't retain the names of since I was busy taking pics until I cheated and checked the setlist.

"Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World" from All You Can Eat

"Girl from Oklahoma" from 2009's Feel The Steel, which basically is a cross between The Goo Goo Dolls' breakthrough hit "Name" crossed with Unkle Kraker's "Follow Me"

"The Burden of Being Wonderful" from All You Can Eat

"17 Girls in a Row" from 2011's Balls Out

"Gloryhole" from All You Can Eat

and main set closer, the song I'd been waiting for all night, "Death To All But Metal" from Feel The Steel. The clip features comedic genius Sarah Silverman. I have literally had this song stuck in my head all week.

Their encore featured a huge sing-along for Feel The Steel's "Community Property". The audience didn't produce anything quite as vocally beautiful as the Elbow audience doing "One Day Like This", but well done nonetheless!

They closed out the night with Bon Jovi influenced "Fuck All Night Party All Day", which I guess is kinda like genre creating legends KISS' "Rock and Roll All Nite and Party Every Day", only different. Or maybe not.