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21 Feb, Thursday
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Review: Steel Panther – Ulster Hall, Belfast

The 1980s was an era defined by excess: drugs, sex and 40-foot tall speaker stacks were all the rage, and on Friday night a little bit of the sunset strip made its way to Belfast’s Ulster Hall. One of the most popular acts in their field, Steel Panther brought their own brand of nostalgic hedonism to the streets of the capital.

They were joined by opener Gus G. The renowned guitarist began proceedings with a set highlighted with electric aerobics. Toying with the audience amidst a flurry of steely licks and cruel shrieks, G shredded his way through a setlist of solo material and hits. Less a musician and more a conductor, the onslaught of solos and riffs were accompanied by soaring power vocals that seemed to electrify the whole crowd. A veteran of live performances, there are few opening acts in the world capable of conducting the energy of a venue quite like Gus G, a fact he aptly proved on the night.

Headliners Steel Panther arrived with the same hyperbole as they conduct every action. In short, loudly. From the cheers, the opening power chord and the screech of frontman Micheal Starr, the adrenaline in the room was set to ‘high octane’ from the opening tip to final buzzer. An apache of glam rock power ballads ensued, spliced by an energised Starr and his crowd interactions. Riffs were shredded, drums were blasted and more than a few sing-a-longs were initiated.

Towards the end of the show, Panther fully immersed themselves in their OTT reputation. Inviting a contingent of fans on stage to dance with them, they proceeded to tear their way through a number of covers, most notably Def Leppard’s ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ and Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer.’

The grandiose nature of it all would have been incredibly tiresome if not for the unrepentant tongue in cheek nature of the quartet. Dressed up for the carnival, deprecating each other and selves and frequent references to “melting p******” and viagra meant that laughs were just as common as cheers. Their dedication to being as uncool as possible is something to be admired at least, and is exceedingly human in nature, making shouting along to 80’s power ballads seem less camp and more social (on reflection, it’s still pretty camp).

A set that seemed more reminiscent of you local cheesy disco but with XXX-rated content, Steel Panther proved once more why they are one of the most popular acts in the world.