Steel Panther / Bowling For Soup / Buckcherry [Live Review – Wembley Arena, London, 15/10/2016]
UPDATE: TMMP has been reborn! This video has the full story:
Wembley Arena is drowning in not-quite-November rain. Within its cavernous confines, the metal-enamoured masses gather to chat and watch impatiently as an onstage drum tech runs through a standard-issue soundcheck. Slowly, showtime approaches.
Arenas are often accused of sucking the soul out of live shows – but what they actually do is present performers with the ultimate challenge, that of projecting who they are all they way to the back row. As Buckcherry (87%) emerge, cameraphones follow suit, ready to record segments of every song from Sunshine to Gluttony, Out Of Line, Lit Up, Say Fuck It, and Crazy Bitch. Meanwhile, Buckcherry themselves get the job done, inspiring plenty of hip-grinding and wild applause right to opposite end of one of the UK’s most famous venues.
This night is special for Bowling For Soup (95%), marking as it does the first night of their very first UK arena tour. For a lesser, less experienced band, nerves and all the hazards anxiety brings with it would likely come into play – but if they did for Bowling For Soup, it didn’t show. Jaret Reddick, Chris Burney, Erik Chandler, and Gary Wiseman are live veterans – and when it comes to pop-punk, there’s nothing Bowling For Soup can’t handle.
For Bowling For Soup, Wembley Arena wasn’t some spirit-sucking pit to be sniffed at while mumbling about a twelve-and-a-half-person-capacity basement somewhere in the American Midwest. It was a nearly-sold-out opportunity to rock the fuck out and party – which is what these guys do best. With new album Drunk Dynasty fresh out of the PledgeMusic gates and reviewed on TMMP here, new single Hey Diane fit right in amongst classics like Girl All The Bad Guys Want, High School Never Ends, Ohio, Almost, The Last Rock Show, Punk Rock 101, The Bitch Song, the theme song to Phineas And Ferb, 1985, and even a mid-set cover of Fountains Of Wayne’s Stacy’s Mom chosen because its authorship is normally misattributed to Bowling For Soup.
In short, this was the perfect pop-punk arena show. As a music fan, I grew up with Bowling For Soup – and seeing them hit a fresh career peak before my eyes was something really special.
As for Steel Panther (100%), their humour may be close to the bone (pun intended), but whether satire is your thing or not you have to at least respect Steel Panther’s dedication to their craft. When rock stars start headlining arenas, they’re supposed to get lazy and entitled, not…whisper it…keep working their asses off. At Wembley Arena, Steel Panther clearly missed that memo – and long may the situation continue.
I have to be honest: Before this show, I’d given relatively short shrift to Steel Panther’s discography post-Feel The Steel. Underneath jokes that aren’t as much tongue in cheek as dick and balls in your closest maternal relative’s cheek lies a knack for immediately catchy songcraft – and after Wembley, I’m definitely going to give some of Steel Panther’s later tunes more airtime.
In any case, you’re not going to find much to fault with this setlist: Eyes Of A Panther, Just Like Tiger Woods, Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World, Asian Hooker, Turn Out The Lights (complete with at least five simultaneous mosh pits), Let Me Come In, an extended guitar solo spot in which Satchel accompanies himself on drums, It Won’t Suck Itself, an alternate acoustic version of She’s On The Rag, a parade of hard-partying women joining Steel Panther for 17 Girls In A Row, Glory Hole, and Community Property after one fan gets serenaded with Girl From Oklahoma…and an apocalyptic Death To All But Metal before encores Fat Girl and Party All Day. In short: A Proper Metal Arena Show, passionately nailed.
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