STEEL PANTHER KICK OFF THEIR CANADA TOUR TO A SOLD OUT CROWD IN BARRIE
Date: June 14, 2019
Venue: Mavricks Music Hall
Location: Barrie, Ontario, Canada
When I found out that Steel Panther were continuing their Sunset Strip Live Tour with a cross-country tour of Canada, my only question was where the band would be playing that would be striking distance from Toronto where I live. As it turns out, there were only two possible tour stops semi-close to Toronto with Mavricks Music Hall in Barrie on Friday, June 14th (about 1.5 to 2 hours away from Toronto in rush hour traffic) and London Music Hall in London, Ontario (about two hours away from Toronto in normal traffic). Knowing that Sleaze Roxx writer Metal Mike would be in Barrie at that time, the choice was an easy one. Metal Mike and I planned to meet up in Barrie and catch the mighty Steel Panther live. This would be Metal Mike‘s first time seeing Steel Panther while for me, it would be my 11th time since 2012.
As an extra bonus, a couple of months after Steel Panther announced their nine tour dates across Canada, it was announced that Western Canadian heavy metal rockers Striker would be the special guests for eight of the nine tour stops. I got to say that I was thrilled with that announcement as I had missed Striker‘s tour stop in Toronto back in 2018 and I was going to have to miss their upcoming tour stop at the Velvet Underground in Toronto on July 27th. Finally, I would have the chance to see Striker play live. For those who don’t know Striker, the band has already released six full-length albums and has slowly and surely changed its sound from a pure thrash metal band to one of the best melodic heavy metal bands out there. In fact, Striker‘s latest studio album Play To Win finished at #9 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2018.
Now, you’ve got to hand it to Steel Panther. They continue to give quality Canadian bands a chance to open for them. Back in July 2016, Steel Panther had Toronto based Diemonds open for them for five shows throughout Canada. In the fall of 2018, it was Western Canada rockers The Wild! who had the opportunity to open for Steel Panther throughout a cross-country tour of Canada. This time, another quality Canadian band — Striker — was getting that golden opportunity. It’s a golden opportunity for many reasons including playing to a very enthusiastic crowd every night (I am assuming that the crowds are the same as the ones that I have seen at the Steel Panther shows that I have attended) and seemingly sold out every time. Steel Panther‘s willingness to give quality bands a chance reminds me of back in the ’80s when it was routine to have a big act take on a quality opener on tour for a long time. My first concert was Judas Priest in 1986 and Bon Jovi opened for them a couple of weeks prior to the release of what turned out to be one of the biggest selling albums of all-time — Slippery When Wet. — which stands tied at #34 overall with 28 million copies sold (according to Wikipedia). What about the mighty Whitesnake opening for Mötley Crüe in 1987 when the former just had a #1 single with “Here I Go Again”? Or Guns N’ Roses opening for Iron Maiden in 1988 when the former was rising to the top after the release of Appetite For Destruction? Or Skid Row opening for Aerosmith in January 1990 when the former had released one of the best debut albums of all-time in ‘hair metal’ history? Granted, Steel Panther aren’t playing arenas on their Sunset Strip Live Tour and their special guests do not have platinum selling records but Steel Panther are doing what bands used to do in the late ’80s — giving quality bands a chance to play for a bigger audience. Thank you Steel Panther!
My original plan with Metal Mike was to have me interview the Striker band members prior to the show. Everything was set up courtesy of publicist Jon Asher of Asher Media Relations with Metal Mike and I to meet Striker at 6:00 pm on the day of
the show. Unfortunately, my “real work” schedule got in the way and I was not able to make it to Barrie for 6:00 pm (you’ll recall that it’s an 1.5 to 2 hour drive in rush hour traffic from Toronto). Metal Mike stepped up to the plate and although he was not as familiar as I am with Striker, he did interview them so stay tuned for that interview on Sleaze Roxx in the near future. I ended up getting to Barrie at around 7:20 pm or so, which as predicted was a two hour drive from Toronto in rush hour traffic. I met up with Metal Mike who advised me that there was a side entrance for the VIPs (thank you Jon Asher) so we were able to skip the long line of people standing outside the main entrance to get into the venue. As soon as we were inside, I bolted towards the stage and although I didn’t get a spot on the stage barrier, Metal Mike and I were now stationed only one row behind the stage barrier. An almost perfect spot to watch the concert. As we waited, Metal Mike pointed out that he had played across the street as a drummer in a local Barrie band called Makeshift Sanity way back in ’93!
Right at 8:00 pm, Striker hit the stage. The band members looked thrilled to be there although guitarist Tim Brown seemed to be struggling with some sound issues as he was nestled in back of some speakers for most of the opening song “Heart of Lies.” It was interesting to hear the song with only one guitar seemingly playing and I could really appreciate how the second guitar on the song really thickened up the sound overall for the track. By the time that Striker embarked into their second song of the night — “Born To Lose” — Tim Brown was on stage and for the remainder of the band’s set. I had heard that standing right in front and close to the stage at Mavricks Music Hall wasn’t as great sound wise (since the two large speakers were on the side of the stage and slightly past where I was standing) so I chalked any sound issues to where I was standing on this night. This was my third time at Mavricks Music Hall as I had previously seen Sebastian Bach and Buckcherry there last year and experienced no sound issues but at the same time, I was much further back in the venue during both of those shows.
Despite the guitars and singer Dan Cleary‘s vocals being seemingly a little bit low in the mix, Striker still sounded awesome. I think that their faster tracks such as “Former Glory” (from their self-titled record), “Out For Blood” (from their album Stand In The Fire) and “Fight For Your Life” (from their earlier album Armed To The Teeth) came off better given the sound issues that they were seemingly experiencing as their newer material such as “Head First” and “On The Run” (both from Play To Win) which are more focused on Cleary‘s vocals didn’t get to shine as much as it could of on this night. Nevertheless, the Striker band members seemed to really be enjoying themselves. Drummer Adam Brown had a big grin on his face during the entire show. Guitarist Chris Segger had the most “intense” look out of the Striker band members. Singer Dan Cleary was all smiles as he showcased his powerful voice. Guitarist Tim Brown was the furthest away from where I was stationed in the audience but he seemed to be really enjoying himself as well and proved to be a master shredder. New bassist Pete Klassen looked very comfortable on stage posing on numerous occasions (some cool poses), all smiles and providing some great background vocals. Of note, the man was the frontman for two Japanese based bands (Silex and Tokyo Spandixxx) during his time in Japan from 2012 to 2018. Cleary even advised the crowd that Klassen would be
addressing them, which the bassist did to great effect as he had the crowd cheering after each statement that he would say.
I was lucky enough to get one of Klassen‘s bass guitar picks that he threw into the audience. His pick landed on the floor between the legs off a gentleman who seemed oblivious that the pick was so close to him. Two other fellows just seemed to be looking and pointing at the pick so I just bent down and grabbed it. It took a while for Cleary to address the audience but eventually he did. Cleary pointed out to the crowd that they would likely be singing along to all of the lyrics from the Steel Panther songs (he was right) and that he would be doing the same as it was his first time that he would be seeing the band live! Striker definitely had some enthusiastic fans in the audience and it must have been very cool for them to play to the sold out audience members that had seemingly all come early to watch the opening act (and secure good vantage points to see the stage). After Steel Panther’s set was over, I met three of the five Striker band members at their merch table and Klassen pointed out to me that I knew a lot of the band’s songs since I was singing along to so many of them. Overall, I was very impressed with Striker‘s live performance and really hope that I get the chance to see them play again soon.
01. Heart of Lies
02. Born To Lose
03. Head First
04. On The Run
05. Former Glory
06. Too Late
07. Phoenix Lights
08. The Front
09. Out For Blood
10. Fight For Your Life
If I thought that the Mavricks Music Hall looked packed for Striker‘s set, it felt a lot more crowded on the general admission floor once Steel Panther took the stage. All of a sudden, I could feel people pressed on my back and a large mosh pit started seemingly right away during the opening song “Eyes of A Panther.” Clearly, many people were hoping to get to the front including a young lady who pushed her way past me. I had to ask to get behind me since I could not take photos with her blocking my vantage point. Funny enough, the young lady later asked for me and another gentleman to let her through but we held our ground. Eventually, she did make it all the way to the stage barrier a little further away by squeezing between two people. Interestingly enough, one of the two people that had squeezed in, to let the young lady get to the barrier in the first place, let go of the barrier for whatever reason. When he politely asked the young lady to give him some room so he could get back to the barrier, the young lady told him something along the line of “too bad” and the gentleman now had to watch the rest of the concert from two rows back from the stage barrier. The gentleman looked perplexed by the turn of events but gracefully elected not to make a big deal of the odd turn of events.
Although I have never formally met Steel Panther frontman Michael Starr, I have been to a few Steel Panther concerts as previously mentioned and was the butt of Starr and guitarist Satchel‘s jokes (all in good fun) during one memorable concert in particular. It appeared that Starr may have recognized my “familiar” face because he handed out his red gloved hand to me very early in the show and left it there until I grabbed it while I scrambled to hold my camera in the other hand. It was a cool gesture from Starr and made me feel like I was getting greeted by an old friend or at least a familiar acquaintance. Thank you Michael Starr! After the first two songs played, Starr and Satchel launched into their comedy routine, which had everything throughout the night from joking about Vince Neil‘s weight to how small a penis that Starr had to bassist Lexxi Foxx getting a blowjob from a guy. Drummer Stix Zadinia got in on the jokes too with his portrayal of one armed drummer Rick Allen (of Def Leppard). Yes, some people might find the poking at Neil and Allen in bad taste, and the jokes about personal genitals and blow jobs at the juvenile level, but it really was just done in good fun and if you are offended, lighten up!
Given that I had already seen Steel Panther on their Sunset Strip Live Tour, I was hoping that they would change up their setlist somewhat and they certainly did. Only two of their five cover songs were played back in September 2018 (Van Halen‘s “Panama” and Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Crazy Train”) when I first saw them on that tour. Impressively, Steel Panther only played seven songs out of the ones that they played during their September 2018 in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (which is located about two hours from Barrie in good traffic conditions). The covers that were dropped from the September 2018 show were Autograph‘s “Turn Up The Radio”, the Scorpions‘ “Rock You Like A Hurricane” and Bon Jovi‘s “You Give Love A Bad Name.” The new covers this time around were about half of Van Halen‘s (or The Kinks‘) “You Really Got Me”, Whitesnake‘s “Here I Go Again” (which prompted a huge sing along from the crowd) and Bon Jovi‘s “Livin’ On A Prayer.” The Ozzy cover song was particularly funny because Starr went into the back after having some fake microphone issues only to reappear dressed up as Ozzy. Starr really does a killer impression of the Black Sabbath frontman. Later on in the evening, Satchel pointed out that Starr also could do a great impression of David Coverdale, which he did during the opening verses of Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.” Eventually, Satchel announced during that song that Steel Panther would do a rendition of “Here I Go Again” that the crowd had never heard before and they launched into a reggae version of the song. It was brilliant. They added a few snippets of other songs that sounded familiar to me but I could not exactly pinpoint which songs those were.
One special moment came before the song “Girl From Oklahoma” when a couple by the name of Matthew and Michelle took to the stage. I was expecting Matthew to propose to Michelle but it ended up being the other way around. Matthew looked like he was tearing up during and after Michelle‘s proposal as Starr proclaimed something to the likes of, “Wait a minute. You proposed to him?” Starr then made a derogatory but funny remark about Barrie that I can’t recall at this time. Michelle then sat in the hot seat as the band launched into “Girl From Oklahoma” which was renamed by Satchel as “Girl From Barrie.” Before Matthew and Michelle left the stage, Starr had some marriage advice for Michelle as he advised her not to forget to give blowjobs to Matthew and to make sure to always swallow his load. It feels a little crude to write what was said at this time, but while I was attending the concert, I was laughing my head off as I was thoroughly entertained by Michael Starr and company. It was neat to see all of the Striker band members hanging out by the side of the stage at one time or another with big smiles on their faces during Steel Panther‘s set.
As is customary at any Steel Panther concerts, many young women were willingly displaying their breasts for the band members (and everyone else) to see and a whole bunch of women eventually made their way up on stage while the band performed a couple of songs, which ended up being Bon Jovi‘s “Livin’ On A Prayer” and the group’s own “Gold Digging Whore.” Steel Panther finished things off with “Community Property” which seemingly had everyone in the audience singing along before ending on a heavier note with “Death But All Metal.” The crowd was particularly into it for the last song with a huge mosh pit and seemingly one person crowd surfing after another. Steel Panther came back for one encore — the very good “Gloryhole” — which prompted another large mosh pit and the crowd going into a frenzy one more time. Overall, I laughed, I smiled, I sang along, and I just had a fantastic time in a real party like atmosphere at yet another Steel Panther concert. While many hard rock / heavy metal bands struggle these days to attract people to their concerts, Steel Panther continue to be an anomaly in today’s heavy metal scene as they continue to attract a wide demographic of people to their concerts. You would think that all of the people that go see Steel Panther would be going to see all those other bands play live when they come to town but that just doesn’t seem to be the case. There’s something truly special about Steel Panther and I will go out on a limb and say that all of the people who went to the band’s sold out show at Mavricks Music Hall know that too. I can’t wait until my next Steel Panther concert!
Steel Panther’s setlist:
01. Eyes of A Panther
02. Tomorrow Night
03. You Really Got Me (part) (Van Halen / The Kinks cover)
04. Panama (Van Halen cover)
05. Just Like Tiger Woods
06. Asian Hooker
07. Poontang Boomerang
08. Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
09. Guitar Solo from Satchel
10. Girl From Oklahoma
11. Here I Go Again (Whitesnake cover)
12. Livin’ On A Prayer (Bon Jovi cover)
13. Gold Digging Whore
14. Community Property
15. Death To All But Metal
Steel Panther performing “Asian Hooker” live at Mavericks Music Hall in Barrie, Ontario, Canada on June 14 2019: