By Fraser Bryce
What a ridiculous bill this is. With three of the most entertaining acts on the circuit, all on the same night, this gig was basically guaranteed to be a bucket of LOLZ.
The Lounge Kittens kick off proceedings with their lounge jazz versions of rock and metal classics, all in glorious sounding three part harmony. Covering songs like Andrew W.K’s ‘Party Hard’ and Metallica’s ‘Sad But True’ would normally be considered blasphemy, but the Kittens pull it off with impeccable style, with the latter being given a more jaunty, upbeat makeover that really shouldn’t work but really, really does. Songs like Slipknot’s ‘Duality’ and Skindred’s ‘Kill The Power’ translate well into the stripped back style of The Lounge Kittens and it’s very clear by the crowd reception that their popularity will only continue to grow.
Next up are reggae/metal/dance hybrid Skindred. Often cited as one of the best live bands around, I, naturally, had high hopes for them. Needless to say, my expectations were met, and then some. Walking onto stage with a dubstep version of the Imperial March from Star Wars blasting over the P.A., it’s clear that Skindred’s main mission is to turn the Academy into one massive party. Opener ‘Kill The Power’ manages to perfectly blend reggae style lyrics, raging guitar riffs, soaring choruses and Kanye West samples, and ‘Doom Riff’ has a chorus that wouldn’t be out of place on a Calvin Harris song, but the verses are more reminiscent of Sepultura. Basically, it’s bonkers, it’s unique, and it’s fucking brilliant. Frontman Benji Webb holds the crowd in the palm of his hand for the 50 minutes the band are on stage, and the closing songs, ‘Nobody’ and ‘Warning’, get a reception normally received by headliners. The latter contains something they call The Newport Helicopter, which involves the audience taking off an item of clothing – t-shirts, jackets, etc – and waving it over your head like a helicopter blade. It’s honestly the coolest looking thing I’ve ever seen at a gig.
After Skindred, Steel Panther have got a lot to live up to. I must admit, I’ve seen Steel Panther numerous times, after falling in love with them when they upstaged both Def Leppard and Motley Crue back in 2011. So I had a feeling they’d be able to come out on top. When the curtain, in a true Spinal Tap moment, fails to fall, Panther’s mission is clear: you’re going to laugh your asses off for the next 90 minutes. There is no band funnier than Steel Panther, from the stage moves – which see bassist Lexxi Foxx arguing with guitarist Satchel over a mic stand – to the between song banter – most of which revolves around dick jokes – to the hair solo – Google it – , Panther have the audience in stitches for the duration of the evening. But that’s not to say the humour detracts from the songs in any way. Songs like ‘Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World’ and ‘Tomorrow Night’ are actually better songs than the glam rock bands they parody, and, based on the sheer volume of the crowd participation, ‘Community Property’ – a heartfelt ode to bands cheating whilst on tour – and ‘Death To All But Metal’ – fairly self-explanatory – have become anthems in their own right. Also, Satchel is an absolutely incredible guitar player, and frontman Michael Starr should be the first person Van Halen should call if Dave Lee Roth calls it quits.
While Steel Panther put on an excellent show, their lack of spontaneity and reliance on backing tapes mean Skindred come out on top tonight. But, it’s clear that Steel Panther have long outgrown the confines of the smaller theatres – their full show, complete with massive video screens, is too big for the Academy – and will soon be headlining in arenas, a feat that many of the 80’s glam metal bands they lovingly take the piss out of are unable to achieve today. But, this band are custom built for arenas, something which the reportedly proved when they played to a sold out Wembley arena a few nights later and, if those reviews are anything to go by, we’ll be in for a treat.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’).appendChild(s);