STEEL PANTHER DON’T MISS A BEAT WITH THEIR NEW BASSIST SPYDER
Date: November 10, 2022
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
A new venue! After seeing Steel Panther play in the same venue in Toronto seemingly year after year (aside from the Covid pandemic years), I would finally get to see them play live in a different venue. Since 2012, I had seen Steel Panther play six times (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019) at the Sound Academy — which later on was called Rebel — venue in Toronto. It seemed that this venue was the only one which could accommodate the two thousand fans (give or take) which Steel Panther regularly attract whenever they play in Toronto. As I write this review, I am surprised to see that the Rebel venue is still operating so I wonder what caused Steel Panther to elect to play a different venue in Toronto all these years later. After all, Rebel has a capacity of 2,500 people, which seemed like the perfect venue for Steel Panther to play. Perhaps they simply got a better deal because the venue that they played at this time around — History — has apparently the exact same capacity of 2,500 people.
Personally, I much prefer the History venue over the Rebel one as the latter seemed longer with tougher sightlines while the former seems to have a more oval or square-ish shape to it. And you just can’t beat parking on a nearby street for free (after 9:00 pm) near History compared to the almost mandatory $20 parking “option” at Sound Academy / Rebel given that the latter venue was in the middle of nowhere. History also seemingly allowed patrons access to its balcony section while Rebel often seemed to restrict the access to its balcony area when Steel Panther were playing there. The only drawback for me is that History is located in the east end of the city while I live in the west end meaning that it took me almost an hour to get there. Of course, I did the regrettable and seemingly stupid move of taking Queen Street to get to the venue but the ride home was a lot quicker by simply taking Lakeshore Boulevard East to the Gardiner highway. In any case, the bottom line is that the History venue is way better than the Rebel one and I really hope that Steel Panther continue to play at History whenever they come to Toronto.
Aside from the change in venue, the other major change was that this would be the first time for me that bassist Lexxi Foxx was not in the Steel Panther line-up. Sure, Lexxi never did say much when he was on stage compared to guitarist Satchel, lead vocalist Michael Starr and even drummer Stix Zadinia but he played his “dummy” / diva role to perfection. Steel Panther‘s new bassist Spyder turned out to be a solid replacement for Foxx. I like that Steel Panther didn’t get Spyder to emulate Foxx‘s exact persona. I wasn’t quite sure exactly what “role” that Spyder was taking during the band’s Toronto show but I suppose that it’s a “project in the making.” Whatever the case, Spyder was able to crack a few jokes and get into the banter with his new bandmates so I anticipate that he will only get better with more and more shows under his belt. He certainly did not seem to have any difficulties playing the songs on stage.
Black Stone Cherry
Kentucky, USA based rockers Black Stone Cherry had the unenviable task of opening for Steel Panther. This was probably the closest “Sleaze Roxx” type band that I had ever seen open for Steel Panther aside from when they had actual Canadian bands opening for them in the past (Diemonds, The Wild! and Striker). Truth be told, I have never gotten into Black Stone Cherry and couldn’t even name you one of their songs. Funny enough, Black Stone Cherry had a number of their albums — Folklore and Superstition (2008), Between The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea (2011), Kentucky (2016) and Family Tree (2018) — reviewed by other Sleaze Roxx contributors over the years. Two of those albums even made the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums respectively in 2011 and 2016.
In any case, based on the large number of songs that I eventually heard from Black Stone Cherry, I would say I arrived within the first few songs of the band’s set. I was impressed with the energy displayed by certain band members and notably guitarist Ben Wells and bassist Steve Jewell. Wells was so active on stage that when I first put my eyes on the band that I thought that he must be the frontman. As it turns out, the frontman duties were filled by lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Robertson. The singer advised the crowd that it had been 15 years (or something like that) since Black Stone Cherry had played in Toronto, which seemed like a very long time when you consider the group formed about 21 years ago. I am not sure what happened during those last 15 years but if anything, even if a band gets an opportunity of a lifetime on a big North American tour (such as when US rockers The Last Vegas opened for Mötley Crüe in 2009 or when UK rockers The Treatment opened for Mötley Crüe and KISS back in 2012), it doesn’t mean guaranteed success or that the same kind of opportunities will present themselves in the years to come.
I was a tad surprised to see that Black Stone Cherry seemingly had two drummers but eventually, I noticed that one of the drummers (Jeffrey Boggs) was simply playing bongos and congas. All I can say is Black Stone Cherry should save themselves a little bit of money and omit the bongos and congas from any of their songs that are played live. Not being familiar with Black Stone Cherry‘s material, I couldn’t name you any of the songs that they played except for their very solid cover of ELO‘s classic track “Don’t Bring Me Down.” That song and another one of their own originals seemed to really get the crowd going. Overall, Black Stone Cherry put on a good performance. I won’t be running to buy any of their albums anytime soon but I enjoyed what I heard from them.
Before long, it was time for what I consider to be one of the best live bands — and really one of the best bands period — to take the stage. As previously mentioned, this would be my first time seeing Steel Panther perform without bassist Lexxi Foxx in the line-up. I was intrigued to see how new bassist Spyder would fit it during a live performance. How would it fit within Steel Panther’s overall comedy routine? As it turns out, having a new bassist did not alter Steel Panther‘s live formula one iota. As usual, Steel Panther played two songs right off the bat, this time going with “Goin’ In The Backdoor” as the opener along with a familiar opening track “Tomorrow Night”, before finishing the second song with a big protracted ending. The comedy routine was up next which included the introduction of each band member. Although there’s no question that many of the jokes are quite cheesy and even repeated from one show to the next, and one year to the next, hearing Satchel and Michael Starr banter back and forth between themselves always brings a smile to my face and sometimes, just outright laughter.
Although it felt like I had heard all of the songs played by Steel Panther many times before in a live setting — with the exception of the new single “Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight”) — the reality is that only seven songs from the current setlist were played the last time that the band played in Toronto in 2019. What Steel Panther do really well is play their obligatory most well known songs (such as “Death To All But Metal”, “17 Girls In A Row”, “Community Property” and “Gloryhole”) at each concert and rotate their other stronger songs (such as “Tomorrow Night”, “Weenie Ride” and even now “Just Like Tiger Woods”) from one year to the next. Not surprisingly, the newer songs “All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)” and “Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight)” went down quite well live since they are easy to sing along to. As an aside, I am not sure why Steel Panther seem to be going with super long song titles lately. A little brevity with the song titles would be nice.
One of the funniest moments for me had to be Starr‘s portrayal of the one and only Ozzy Osbourne during Steel Panther‘s cover of “Crazy Train.” With the Black Sabbath frontman getting up there in age and looking more and more confused as the years pass him by, Starr did a great job of hamming it up and pretending to be a really confused senior citizen playing rock n’ roll songs well past his prime. The attention to detail in that regard was truly outstanding with a roadie having to repeatedly point Starr in the right direction and at the end, even come and get him to have him exit the opposite way off the stage. On the other hand, one semi-disappointing segment was Satchel‘s guitar solo. While it is undoubtedly entertaining and better than most other guitar solo segments that you might see at other concerts, my concern is that it takes time away from the band playing other songs.
On this night, Steel Panther only played a measly 12 songs. I do note that setlist.fm indicates that Steel Panther played a cover of Judas Priest‘s “Living After Midnight” but I have no recollection of that song being played that night. Getting back to Steel Panther‘s shortened setlist, when they played the Rebel venue in Toronto back in December 2019, they played 14 songs. Back in June 2019 during their gig in Barrie, Ontario. Canada, Steel Panther played 15 songs. Twelve songs for any headlining act is simply not enough. When you consider that KISS who have two guys in their 70’s are playing 21 songs each night of their End of The Road World Tour, I can’t help but think that Steel Panther could squeeze in a few more songs on top of their 12 played at History.
Another disappointing issue that creeped up this time around — and for which Steel Panther bear no fault — is the fights between concert attendees. I assume that the great majority of concert attendees are just there to have a fun time so it’s quite annoying to see guys fighting over stupid shit. In one instance, I overheard one guy indicate how he was recently divorced and looking forward to seeing Steel Panther for the first time. He was there with his buddy and both of them were seemingly drinking quite a bit. Eventually, a taller guy started talking to them and the divorced guy and his buddy later complained that the tall guy hadn’t bought them a drink. Pretty soon, pushing and shoving was involved. The tall guy eventually got security to come by — the security guys at History were dressed rather distinctively with black suits with red ties — and the divorced guy and his buddy were seemingly escorted out of the venue during Steel Panther‘s last few songs of the night. Another guy nearby also seemed to be picking a fight and he was eventually escorted out as well. Even the Steel Panther members picked up on that as Stix Zadinia made some sort of comment to the like that “what’s great about Canadians is that we can have disagreements and then kiss and make up.” Clearly, that didn’t seem to help with the altercations that I saw on this night.
I was supposed to meet up with Sleaze Roxx writer Mark Hovarth at the concert. It was kind of a last minute thing. I had not seen Mark since the Covid pandemic struck the world back in March 2020 but unfortunately, he came to the venue pretty late and by that time, I was pretty close to the stage while I understand that he was more towards the back. He also understandably left early to beat the crowd so we never did see each other at the concert. In any case, as usual, I had a great time at another Steel Panther concert. The band got me smiling, laughing and singing along throughout the night. The short set list and the unnecessary altercations could be improved upon for next time but undoubtedly, I will continue to attend Steel Panther concerts whenever they come within a few hours of the greater Toronto area.
Steel Panther’s setlist on Nov. 10, 2022:
01. Goin’ In The Backdoor
02. Tomorrow Night
03. Asian Hooker
04. All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)
05. Just Like Tiger Woods
06. Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight)
07. Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
08. Guitar Solo
09. Weenie Ride
10. 17 Girls In A Row
11. Death To All But Metal
12. Community Property
Steel Panther performing “Gloryhole” live at History in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on November 10, 2022 (video from Heavy Fraga‘s YouTube page):