REVIEW: STEEL PANTHER AT HOUSE OF BLUES IN CHICAGO

12-4-16steelpanther-20Steel Panther are no strangers to playing House of Blues in Chicago, in fact, it’s become a yearly tradition for some. While the crowd was surprisingly dominated by 40-something men who knew the lyrics to more songs than one might expect, the sold out crowd was definitely full of diehard fans.

Local band Man the Mighty and direct support, Wilson, got the crowd warmed up for a night of bad jokes, clever segues, all the best of what the 1980’s had to offer in terms of clothing (ie: spandex and big hair for days) along with a bit of debauchery that went hand in hand with the Steel Panther catalog.

The night started off with lead singer Michael Starr at the front of the stage for Eyes of a Panther from Feel the Steel (2009) while bassist Lexxi Foxx and guitarist Satchel flanked either side of drummer Stix Zadinia. Playing and singing back up from the back of the stage for the first part of the song opened up the focus on Starr. He danced and interacted with the crowd, scarves and hair flying. After Just Like Tiger Woods, Satchel announced they had made it to Starr’s home town and this was met with a joyous response from the crowd.

As the band continued with Party Like Tomorrow Is the End of the World, a female fan mysteriously appeared on stage and started interacting with Starr. I’m still unsure if this was planned, but after reading Starr and Satchel’s reactions, I’m guessing it wasn’t planned. Starr had some fun as he sang and danced along with the fan before she eventually left the stage.

The band proceeded to have a long conversation between themselves full of digs, bad jokes and other comments that had the crowd rolling with laughter. This lead into one of many clever segues (ie: using song titles in regular conversation) for Asian Hooker. Unfortunately it was around the time they played Fat Girl that Starr tripped and almost fell. Satchel was pretty upset over his singer almost falling off the stage and needing another steel hip replacement. The banter between the two of them definitely seemed unscripted even if Satchel got some digs in about Starr’s apparent age of 68.

After a couple more songs, everyone but Satchel left and we were given one of the more unique guitar solos Ive seen. Not only did Satchel play some tasty licks at the front of the stage, he got behind the drum kit and began playing a medley of covers on guitar while stepping on the kick drum. Tidbits of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Guns N Roses and more. The band came back on stage for It Won’t Suck Itself before an acoustic set up for She’s On The Rag from 2014’s All You Can Eat. What made this another unique performance was Foxx on shaker and Zadinia on an iPhone flute. Yes, he held his phone up to a microphone while he tapped the notes on his phone screen. The band was super impressed by this and the crowd seemed to love it as well.

Prior to Girl From Oklahoma, Starr chose a female fan from down front to come up on stage to be serenaded by the band. They also each took turns singing made up lyrics to her, however, Foxx was more interested in himself than he was her, as his lines had nothing to do with her. Always the diva! The band gave an open invitation to any female that wanted to join them on stage during 17 Girls in a Row which also lead into Gloryhole. This 3-song segment is where the debauchery I referred to earlier came into play. Many men and women went home with an eye full.

They ended the main part of the set with Death to All But Metal which had plenty of participation from the crowd before leaving the stage for the encore. Their approximate hour and 45-minute set ended with two more from Feel the Steel. Community Property and Party All Day (F–k All Night). The band also had a round of Frisbee with Starr’s white hat that ended in him tossing it from the front of the stage back to Zadinia, who caught it with his drumstick.

The band has a few more dates on this Winter run, but rest assured they will be back on the road in 2017 supporting their upcoming album, Lower the Bar, which will be released February 24, 2017. As Satchel commented, it’s the best Steel Panther record they’ve done all month.

View the entire Steel Panther photo gallery here.

Read the review and see photos of Wilson’s set here.

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