LIVE: Steel Panther / Bowling For Soup @ Wembley Arena

By Dave Bull

Playing huge gigs, such as Wembley arena is reasonably risky business. It lends to a more theatrical requirement, and entertaining a crowd of over 15,000 indoors is tricker than it sounds. Steel Panther seemingly skipped the pub circuit in the UK and have been playing the arena for the previous two tours, and boy, do they know how to own that stage. They are a smoothly polished machine, and in fact this is one of their several downfalls tonight.

Up first, Bowling For Soup who have actually been around for ages, and have probably played most of the venues we have, over their long and illustrious careers. But tonight is a first for Wembley arena and the crowd are well warmed up vocally. There is a large appreciation for this band in the building tonight and it certainly brings a nostalgic tear to the eye.

Despite the love in the room, the set is rather indistinguishable, and there is far too much inter-song banter. Vocalist Reddick spends quite a bit of time stating how fat he’s got whilst guitarist Chris Burney spends an annoying amount of time flicking his plectrums off his elbow, seemingly throughout the set, provoking thoughts of how little ‘real’ guitar playing there is in these songs.

They play ‘Today Is Gonna Be A Great Day’ from Phineas and Ferb, which apparently is the world’s most famous cartoon but seemingly most of the audience aren’t aware of its existence; then follow it with ‘Stacey’s Mom’ where they point out that despite being credited for this track, it was actually a Fountain of Wayne song.

Finishing track ‘Girls All The Bad Guys Want’ is what a lot of people were waiting for, and lots of people seem to enjoy it. As support slots go, it’s mediocre at best, and certainly won’t go down in the arena’s pre-main entertainment catalogue, as say, Black Peaks should do, for their support performance to the Deftones a while back.

There is a lot to love about Steel Panther. They refuse to do away with their eighties hair and spandex, and indeed, much like The Darkness, this is one of their appeals. There are a lot of people dressed up tonight in groin hugging spandex and luscious blonde wigs, complete with a variety of inflatables, from chairs to guitars and even water pistols. They are about fun, and about a night out, singing your heart out to totally ridiculous songs about fat girls giving head, orgy’s with old people and particular holes in walls in toilets.

It is all, mostly, innocent fun and the band strut around like pros; like they’ve been doing this for years, despite them only recently coming of age. The main snagging point really is that despite the hugely tongue in cheek aura, there is still an element of sexism in their performance, and the derogatory request for ‘let me see some tits’ seemed OK in the early noughties, but now really is totally inappropriate and sets a bad impression for young people, who were en masse this evening. If we, as in the ‘alternative scene’, want a positive move towards equality and to set a good impression to young people, even joke references to belittling women and objectifying them should be abolished, with no exceptions. There is also far too much inter-song high jinks, and it would be better, considering the journey and cost of getting to the venue, to squeeze in more songs.

Despite this, the performance is OK for the most part, with ‘Asian Hooker’ and ‘Death To All But Metal’ being the particular highlights. Whether or not they are a band that many people will continue to revisit is uncertain, as the novelty will probably wear off, and the ticket prices are not worth repeat visits, as you essentially get the same thing every time. However, despite these criticisms, they exist within a small dimension of similar bands with The Darkness and Buck Cherry being two others, and they do a good job of blurring the lines between music and comedy and darn, are they good musicians. Whether or not you’re a fan, they’re worth seeing once, but perhaps don’t go booking the whole tour out quite yet.