GIG REVIEW: STEEL PANTHER & BLACK STONE CHERRY Live At Eatons Hill, Brisbane
It’s taken a long time, but Black Stone Cherry has finally made their way to Australia. The band has certainly taken their sweet time to bring their alternative, southern style sounds to Australia, but took little time to make a massive impact with the Brisbane crowd. Watching these guys for the very first time one thing became glaringly obvious, and that is that this is a band that has worked ridiculously hard in cultivating a live performance that is special to each and every one of them. Each band member didn’t sit idly by, and made swift work in charming those in the crowd that weren’t involved.
The crooning vocal style of Chris Robinson is second to none and easily helped energise the crowd, while the beckoning of bassist Jon Lawhon injected some energy into those that were still motionless in the crowd. Drummer John Fred Young must have one of the best endorsements of all time, because the way in which he was absolutely thrashing his drum skins and the copious amounts of sticks he used to me would mean that his gear was only going to be good for this Brisbane show and would likely need to be replaced for their next leg. He put on one of the most visceral and intense performances that even some of the more technical and proficient drummers wouldn’t be able to deliver as effectively. This was bolstered by Ben Wells on rhythm guitar that proceeded to jump about every chance that he got, elevating each track from what could have been a slower rock song into an energetic anthem, and drawing in those final audience members who weren’t yet moving about to the band. It didn’t take long for this infectious attitude to grip Brisbane, and after about three songs the crowd began to move a lot more freely. This is definitely a band to check out live if you get the chance.
Now, I don’t know what it is about this Steel Panther in particular, but there is just something that makes the Brisbane crowd go absolutely primal and lose all inhibitions each time the band rolls into town, and from the moment that the lights went down to beckon their on-stage arrival this became even more apparent. Ever the showmen, Steel Panther let the crowd stew for a bit until they came out, letting the crowd response build, and from the moment that the band hit the stage, the crowd was enraptured.
After delivering a swift one-two punch opening the band then spent a good five minutes talking to the crowd. Not ones to let any political correctness get in the way of a good joke, there were several occasions during this period, and indeed throughout the night, where Steel Panther the show played out more like a stand-up comedy show, with the band both joking about themselves and members of the audience. I’m sure you can draw some innuendo from the band’s lyrics as to the type of jokes that they were playing around with, and some hecklers quickly found themselves the butt of the band’s jokes.
It is important to highlight this back and forth between the band and crowd, as it can be a wildcard at each Steel Panther show. Whether some most of the bands banter on stage is scripted or not, the way that each band member interacts with the crowd is something that can only happen on a case by case basis and will vary with each show; and, this is somewhere that the band excelled at in Brisbane. Motioning to members of the crowd during certain lyrics, catching blown kisses during songs, and reaching out and holding hands of some of the ladies in the front row are just a number of small ways that each of the band members successfully worked the crowd mid-set, and in conjunction with the jokes that they shared with members of the audience, just proved that this is a band who’s showmanship and improvisation is amongst the best in the business.
The personalities of each member is where the band really shines; whether it be the boisterous nature of Michael Starr, the crudeness and ever explicit nature of Satchel; the over the top pretty boy Lexxi Foxx looking ever impressive, or perhaps the drummer with the craziest name of all, Stix Zadinia stoically behind the drum kit, there was just so much to like about this show. Things like Lexxi reapplying hair spray and lip gloss after each song, seeing Satchel place guitar picks in his mouth to spit spat out to members of the crowd, Stix gesturing suggestively at members of the audience and Michael finding a way to make each and every girl in the room blush are just a number of small ways that the band really blew this Brisbane crowd away.
Set wise, the band didn’t need to stray very far from its normal routine to hit all the right songs, with each track generating a resounding chorus from the audience members – this was a setlist for every Steel Panther fan. “Gloryhole” – Check, “Death to All But Metal” – Check, “Community Property” – Check; but perhaps it was the sight of twenty odd girls screaming and barging their way to the front of a crowded pit to jump up and dance on stage when asked by the band for “17 Girls in a Row” that epitomised the tone of the entire evening.
Few bands could pull such a big crowd in Australia on a Monday night, and fewer still could hold a party on this sort of scale. But then again everyone knows that a Steel Panther show is going to be one hell of a party; and it didn’t take much for the Brisbane crowd to come out and reinforce that.