Hordern Pavilion, Sydney NSW
October 21, 2022
If you’re easily offended and just flat out hate fun, then you’re in the wrong place champ. Tonight is not a night for furiously triggered supporters of hashtag causes that rush anonymously to online soapboxes screaming “WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!”
No. Tonight’s cavalcade of brilliance is filled to the brim with all the trimmings of a bloody brilliant night. Adult kids of all genders and ages, decked out in denim battle jackets, faded black tees & well-worn leather, rolled up to a high-voltage Rock N Roll show in varying states of inebriation. Huge hair, no hair, an endless sea of mullets. Everyone armed for a good time and maybe even prepared for a solid smattering of full-frontal nudity. It’s safe to say that if you’re a fan of cancel culture, then it’s probably best you pack up your Karen flag, find your pile of organic recycled sand and bury your #woke head in it.
So what’s the occasion? It’s only the five-time Covid-rescheduled appearance of the mighty Sunset Strip icons Steel Panther, who have gone and brought with them the hard-rocking Aussies Airbourne to Sydney’s iconic Hordern Pavillion. Two of the hugest party bands ever, these festival must-sees are fresh off of touring Europe and the US. They are charged and ready to kick our arses. Tonight is going to be a hell of a ride.
The lights dim to a half-cut and still filling room just as the theme music from Terminator comes over the speakers, and Airbourne busts out hard onto the stage launching into ‘Ready To Rock’. Frontman Joel O’Keefe comes running out like he’s got half of Columbia up his nose. The lunatic takes off like one of Elon’s rockets and does an air kick so high above the stage, he damn near kicks God in the nuts. They rip into ’Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast’ and ‘Girls In Black’ as Joel grabs his white Gibson Explorer along with one of the many cans of VB scattered around the stage, takes off into the pit and smashes the can of beer on his head over and over until it sprays that frothy excellence over this excited Sydney crowd. He does it every show but it doesn’t get old. If he has a concussion in a few years, we’ll all know why.
Wall of Sound Photographer Mick G and I take off backstage to interview Satchel from Steel Panther real quick (coming soon) and it’s a damn near impossible task. Airbourne have everything turned up to within an inch of causing an earthquake and I blow my voice out trying to be heard. We emerge from the green room to a crowd even more excited than when we left. There’s a huge amount of energy coming from the Airbourne stage and this sea of drunken Sydneysiders are digging it.
‘Breaking Out Of Hell’ leans into ‘Stand Up For Rock N Roll’ and these guys are total rock stars. All the moves, all the energy, just annihilating the Hordern. They start piffing beers into the crowd during ‘Live It Up’ when a bloke propped up on someone’s shoulders donning a Hawaiin shirt, a yellow stripper cowboy hat and a blonde wig catches one of the flying VB’s. This pissed mob erupt and cheer the lad on. The guys from Melbourne close out with ‘Running Wild’ and it’s a full-blown party. You’d almost feel sorry for the poor bastards who have to follow them, except the next mob are one of the most must-see live acts of all time.
A quick trip to the bar and, despite the four-drink limit per customer, every punter is armed and ready for the Sunset Strip savages, Steel Panther. The Californian legends walk out to Van Halen’s ‘Unchained’ and the nearly three-year wait through the pandemic is already worth it. The band kick off with ‘Goin’ In The Backdoor’ and the recently announced new bass player Spyder is already vibing with the rest of the band. Frontman Michael Starr screams “WE’RE FINALLY FUCKING BACK IN SYDNEY” before launching into ‘Tomorrow Night’. The drunks in attendance are stoked to be here and a few of the lassies have jumped up on people’s shoulders and already started taking their tops off. The atmosphere is charged as guitarist Satchel tells the crowd “It is good to be back, in my favourite fucking city in the entire fucking world, SYDNEY AUSTRALIA!!!!”
Yes, he says it in every city they visit. Yes we know it’s part of it. Yes, we’re eating it up anyway.
The between-song banter at a Steel Panther show is legendary and the back-and-forth tonight is no exception. They’ve only banged out two songs and will now spend the next 12 minutes introducing each band member while talking about how the fans in Auckland were shagging sheep, how the new pandemic is going to be gonorrhoea thanks to Michael Starr, that Satchel’s grandma cooks meth, how the old bass player left the band to pursue a career in gay porn, whether or not the new bass player ate the bloke he’s replacing, Stix Zadinia the drummer being a killer weed dealer and his insane impersonation of Rick Allen from Def Leppard. ”If you’re not clapping right now, you better BE the drummer from Def Leppard right now”.
We’re 20 minutes in and only two songs down. The heckle is brilliant but it may be time to start the third song. The banter segues sharply into ‘Asian Hooker’, where Satchel and Spyder have a mic-sharing fight. They belt out old faves ‘Tomorrow Night’ and ‘Poontage Boomerang’ amongst a few others, before ripping into new banger ‘Never Too Late’. There are some old favourite live moments that they bring back, like Starr’s impeccable Ozzy Osbourne impersonation plus Satchel’s guitar solo that will put every other guitarist in the world on notice. Honestly, if you haven’t seen either, you’ve wasted your life.
Stix steps to the front of the stage to play keyboards for ‘Weenie Ride’ before a mixed bag of women get up on stage for ’17 Girls in a Row’. A couple of the ladies have great boobs and no morals and storm around the stage topless because why the hell not. One girl starts boot-scooting and while it’s hardly the scene for it, it somehow works and I’m ok with it. Look over behind Satchel and there is a couple of older chicks that are so smashed they don’t know they’re up with the band. One lady initially refuses to get her top off but after being questioned by Starr, she says she’ll only “show these titties for cash”. One legend in the crowd forks out a hundred-dollar bill and we all get his money’s worth. It all sounds like it’s custom-built for men, but there’s a solid amount of women on show and not one of them hates being here. After that, it’s a classic-song-fest with ‘Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World’, ‘Death To All But Metal’ and an encore of ‘Community Property’ and ‘Gloryhole’ to bring this spectacular night to a close.
Overall, another killer show from two of the most entertaining, high energy and fun rock bands on the planet. For me, it’ll be hard to beat the 2012 show at the Big Top where they brought the Brazzers girls out with them, but tonight they still destroyed. Additionally, new bass player Spyder did really well tonight. Lexxi Foxx leaving was always going to leave an enormous hole in the band’s live performance, especially as a personality. The hair flick while checking himself in the mirror and screaming out random brilliance like “I WENT TO THE ZOO!!!” will be sorely missed. But what I saw in Spyder, behind the eyeliner and stage getup is a bloke that is living his dream. He’s up on stage playing kick-arse heavy metal to fans around the world. The few times that he did speak he got a huge pop. The Fanthers were behind him 100%. In time he’ll find his place, make his mark on the show and cement his spot.
Tonight was a long time coming and a hell of a lot of fun. With their new album On The Prowl coming out in February next year, it’s only a matter of time before they’re back in Oz again and I cannot wait.
Gig Review by Duane James @duanejames666