Thursday, 23 June, 2016
On the face of it this is an odd tour pairing, to say the least.
In this corner, the no-bullshit, heads down, denim and plaid Southern rockers with the huge hard rock-with-a-grungey-edge riffs. In that corner, the wig n’ spandex-sporting, kings of tongue-in-cheek glam piss-taking.
They do have one important thing in common, though: both Black Stone Cherry and Steel Panther are excellent musicians who are passionate about what they do.
The Cherry hit the stage first, and they hit it hard, full of vim & vigour as they jump around and bound from one side of the stage to the other. They start with the heavy stomping groove of Me And Mary Jane, crowd favourite Blind Man and the soul metal of In My Blood. With a sound so chunky you could carve it, newies In Our Dreams and Soul Machine lead into White Trash Millionaire – lyrically the closest they come to Steel Panther territory, but musically they are a world apart.
They wrap up their too-short-by-half set with the playful heft of Blame It On The Boom Boom, and go “back where it all started” to their 2006 debut album’s Lonely Train, which sounds HUGE, before tagging on a southern rockin’ cover of Motorhead’s Ace Of Spades, which they make their own as much as anyone can do with Lemmy’s classic.
After that tour de force it was Steel Panther’s turn. There’s nothing subtle or denim (or politically correct) about this foursome’s comedy rock – they’ve made a career out of revelling in, exploiting, taking the piss out of, and living the cock rock dream, right down to the ridiculous wigs and two-sizes-too-small spandex.
If you’ve seen them before, you know exactly what to expect: big hair metal anthems, guitar abuse, loads of rude jokes and adult-sitcom-that-never-was schtick and frankly, that’s where it got a bit tired this time around. We’ve seen Lexxxi brush his hair between every song. We’ve heard all the pussy and boob jokes. No-one needs to hear a singer calling paying crowd members ‘bitches’, no matter whether it’s as a joke or not. Not that the inexplicably fancy-dressed and bewigged portions of the crowd cared: for them this will always be the funniest thing they’ve ever seen and a reminder of when they had real hair that didn’t come from a Red Dot store.
Still, it’s a fun show, there’s no denying that, as they run through the likes of Fat Girl, Girl From Oklahoma, 17 Girls In A Row and their classic debut single Death To All But Metal, before an encore of hilarious power ballad Community Property and Bon Jovi pastiche Party All Day (Fuck All Night). Steel Panther have great songs and a fun act, but they’re at a crucial moment in their career where their one-trick-pony gag is getting stale.
The majority of the crowd may disagree, but for our money Black Stone Cherry came out on top by a wide margin, and it was great to hear singer Chris Robinson declare that they were already planning a return visit. Hopefully then they’ll be headlining, as they deserve after such an epic set.
Originally published on 100% ROCK MAGAZINE.