Had it not been for the viral video of 'Death to All but Metal' catching the eye of both UK rock fans and Download Festival organiser Andy Copping, 2009 could have panned out very differently for Steel Panther, who, despite commanding quite a following in their native LA, were basically unknown to most of us until early last year. However, the aforementioned video did get uploaded, and said promoter did bring them to Download for their first ever UK show, which was without a doubt one of the highlights of the whole weekend, and which sparked the current wave of Panther fever in the UK. Judging by the turn out tonight, it seems as though we still can't get enough the band, and considering this is their third visit here in about nine months, it seems as though they're just as taken with us as we are with them.
For those uninitiated in the ways of the 'Panther, think The Darkness with a hair metal edge, only a great deal funnier and more talented. Sending up both the music and the lifestyle excesses of bands such as Motley Crue and Poison like a modern-day Spinal Tap, the band have crafted an authentic 80s glam metal sound laced with explicit rhyming couplets that would make the Tap's David St Hubbins proud. Considering they only have one album to play with, the band still manage to string together a lengthy and entertaining set, interspersing near enough the whole of their 'Feel the Steel' album with a few covers, some audience participation (namely a selection of random ladies from the audience baring all), a bit of banter about Sheffield's favourite sons, Def Leppard, and the obligatory guitar/drum/hair (yes, you read correctly) solo.
Whereas the joke tends to wear thin rather quickly with a lot of other 'parody' bands, SP keep you entertained because, beneath their airheaded banter and superficial façade, they're actually bloody good musicians too, with infectiously catchy songs to boot. Listening to a few thousand gig goers singing along in unison to the likes of 'Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)' and 'Party All Day (F**k All Night)' really is a sound to behold, and speaks volumes about how much the UK has taken to the band. Whether or not the joke will stretch to a second album remains to be seen, but really, who cares? They're fun now, which is really all that matters.