Steel Panther / The Treatment – Glasgow O2 Academy

Steel Panther
Steel Panther (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[sets on Flickr of The Treatment and Steel Panther]

Amazingly, the day before the gig Steel Panther announced another tour in November with tickets on sale on Friday. With their recent opening slot for Def Leppard/Motley Crue and a performance at Download coming up you can’t fault their work-rate. Pretty damn good for a band a lot of people classed as a novelty cover act not too long ago.

Openers The Treatment weren’t too bad. A young bunch of upstarts from down south with all the bottle needed to get a crowd interested in them. They really looked the part with all the poses, bouncing, jackets, flash guitars and so on. The music wasn’t half bad and after the first couple of tracks my foot was tapping. It took me a while to find anything about them online – the name doesn’t make it easy to Google – but if you want to sample some of their stuff then check out their MySpace page.

Steel Panther bounced on stage (despite their creaky ages – Michael Starr‘s 50-ish years is constantly referred to throughout the set) around nine o’ clock and launched into a cracking set of songs from both albums. Starr has a cracking voice and in Satchel they have an incredibly talented guitarist. Drummer Stix Zadinia (*childish giggle*) is no slow poke either, and also a dab hand on the keyboards. It’s always hard to rate bassists especially with the mushy sound you get at the Academy, but Lexxi Foxxx at least looks the preening part.

Steel Panther
Steel Panther (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Despite being just off the lower floor area, we had a cracking view of all the action. They easily had the energy of the younger opening band, and a sense of humour more appropriate for an early teenager. Nob gags, blow-job miming, constant cries of “boobies!”, painful segues into each track – all of this made for a highly entertaining 90 minutes. If there was anything missing it was [name song here].

As ever, when a band has a decent amount of material to pick from, they always have to skip some stuff. In my opinion I’d hoped for “Stripper Girl” and “The Shocker”. Although I bet that there was one guy in the crowd who was more disappointed than me at the lack of the latter – he’d gone to all the trouble of dressing up for it!

The set passed in no time at all, including a couple of songs for an encore. The teenage part of me loved them grabbing girls from the audience to dance on stage for them and – surprise – one of them flashed the audience. I’m sure she’ll love that one cropping up all over Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…

We legged it right after the gig to dodge the crowd and because Wendi had to drive home. As it turned out, the band left the venue while the crowd were still outside to sign autographs and get pictures taken. Great to hear that they’re still very much in touch with the people who are spending hard-earned cash to put them where they are. There aren’t that many bands that will still do that in this day and age.

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Black Stone Cherry – Glasgow O2 Academy

Black Stone Cherry
Black Stone Cherry (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Full set of pictures is available on Flickr]

Four months after their show-stealing support slot for Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry returned to Glasgow to play their own headliner at the O2 Academy. The gig was a complete sell-out as evidenced by the nightmare we had parking in the streets around despite getting there fairly early (8-ish) after a nice dinner out at “ask”.

I guess a fair few people had made the effort to get there for doors opening so that they could catch the support act, Rival Sons. Recently signed to Earache after releasing their own debut album digitally, the band seem to have gained a decent following and a good portion of the crowd was cheering each song.

Frankly, though, I don’t know why. They were awful. Slow, boring, widdly, no charisma, no stage presence, dull songs… I couldn’t think of anything positive to say about them. In fact, I thought they’d learned a lesson from Alter Bridge in not having a support band blow you off stage by deliberately getting a crap one.

In fairness, their music just wasn’t my kind of thing. If I had to pigeon-hole them then I’d start throwing band names like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and (someone else mentioned this) White Stripes around. All decent enough bands, but none of which I’d really say I like. As ever, they weren’t helped by the awful sound mix. Every time the singer tried to talk to the crowd, the guitarist would be widdling away. Even quietly, his notes would drown out every word – a common problem at the Academy.

They did seem to divide the crowd. I heard two kinds of comments – “they were brilliant” and “they sucked balls”. Did anyone think they just fell somewhere in the middle?

Black Stone Cherry
Black Stone Cherry (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Anyway, earlier than I’d usually expect a band to appear, Black Stone Cherry strode on stage at nine and kick-started an excellent ninety minute set.

Barely pausing for breath, they must have made it through half a dozen tracks before Chris Robertson talked to the crowd… and then plunged into another medley. Song after song ploughed through the crowd as the band looned about like a bunch of teenagers play-acting in a garage.

Musically, they are simply superb. Incredibly tight, not a note wrong and with a huge amount of energy. Robertson himself was the most stationary (even moreso than drummer John Fred Young who must have spent a quarter of the gig on his feet), though did stand on a monitor now and again. Ben Wells and Jon Lawhon, however, were all over the shop. Name a stereotypical “rock pose” and they pulled it at some point.

I don’t think they failed to play a single good song from any of their albums, although they did – technically – fail to sing one. “Things My Father Said” was performed vocally 100% by the crowd, with the band settling for musical accompaniment.

My facebook and Twitter feeds are full of deserved praise for Black Stone Cherry after the gig and it’s deserved. However, if I may be contentious, I still think that Shinedown pip them so far as “gig of the year”, with the exception of Rammstein which is just on another level.

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Shinedown / Halestorm – Glasgow O2 Academy

Halestorm (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Many more pictures of both bands on these Flickr sets: Halestorm / Shinedown]

There was a third band on the bill for this gig, Liberty Lies, but we missed them. We caught about the last half of their last song and all I can say is that they sound far better live than the couple of songs I listened to on YouTube would have had me expect. Maybe another time.

Halestorm opened for Disturbed and Papa Roach when I saw them in December 2010 and I missed them due to the early doors at that gig. Judging by tonight’s performance that was a shame as they’re pretty damn good. Fronted and drummed by a sister/brother pairing, they’ve got a handful of decent songs as well as being very comfortable on stage.

Lzzy Hale is pretty damn hot, it must be said. And any woman who can play a full set, including jumping around, on 4″ heels deserves some respect. Her voice was a little… I dunno. It didn’t really work for me. It did work for Gillian, though, who bought their CD from the merch stand and is enjoying it immensely.

The band are good value for money, and drummer Arejay is worth watching. He’s not one of these “sit here and hit things thump thump” drummers, but very much a showman who makes the most of being stuck somewhere fairly stationary. If you’re not too caught up in the songs, keep an eye on him.

With a rather decent cover of Skid Row‘s “Slave to the Grind“, Halestorm filled an entertaining 40 minutes or so and deserved the good reception they got.

Shinedown (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

Shinedown hit the stage slightly later than the 21:30 start time we expected, which is a shame as they were so damn good I’d have lapped up every extra minute they could have given.

Opening with “Sound of Madness” and into “Devour”, they kicked everything off as they intended to continue. Loud, brash, bouncy. Frontman Brent Smith seemed to ignore the criticism he’d received on the last tour of talking too much and waffled a bit between songs. But you know what? So does Bruce Dickinson, and nobody gives him any crap about it.

With a new album out in April (I think), there were a couple of newer songs. A shame the notoriously poor sound at the Academy didn’t do them the justice they needed – in particular, and as ever, the vocals being mixed right down. Am I the only one that likes to hear the words in my hard rock? The main audience reaction, though, was for the better-known material and in particular that from the best-selling second album.

Shinedown are excellent live. They’ve just been confirmed for Download so if you can make it (despite the **** headliners and sub-headliners, and the fact that it’s not during the Scottish school holidays), make sure you catch them. They give a solid, fun performance and the smiles on their faces are infectious. It’s great to have a band look like they’re having the time of their lives on stage without them having to tell you every five minutes.

I also have to say that Zach Myers gave a hell of a show. That man’s a beast of a guitarist. I’m not taking anything away from the rest of the band, but he is awesome. Between his playing and Brent’s posing, you’ve got a superb pair up front. Eric Bass (aptly named…) and Barry Kerch complete the lineup though they never seemed quite as involved as the other two. Maybe it’s just the way the stage is laid out.

Talking of which, what’s with the Mike Myers (Halloween, not Austin Powers) mask off to the right of the drumkit? And the stagehands wearing bizarre headgear? Anyone?

Near the end of the set, things calmed down a little with a couple of ballads. Highlight was, of course, “Second Chance” – a song even better live than it is on album. Deservedly their highest-charting single to date. I do have a video of this, it may well make it to YouTube.

Given the very low ticket price of around £16, this has to be one of the best value gigs at a mid-sized venue I’ve been to. Gillian, Wendi and myself all had a great time and left with big smiles on our faces. Looking around the sell-out crowd spilling out into the cold, I don’t think we were in any way alone in this.

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The Darkness / Foxy Shazam – Glasgow Academy

Foxy Shazam
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

[photos of this gig are in this Flickr collection for Foxy Shazam and this one for The Darkness]

It’s not often I’ll go on about a support act, but Foxy Shazam deserve a mention. There was another opener, but I have no idea who they were – even the Academy’s website didn’t bother to list them. Foxy Shazam, though… wow. The first time I heard their name was when I checked the aforementioned website to find out who was supporting about an hour before the doors opened. After a quick peak on YouTube, I decided “yes, I should get there early enough for this bunch”.

They were most definitely, for me, worth turning up for although opinions were divided. I was stood behind a woman who looked like she was wearing a huge blonde wig. I happened to glance at her ridiculously decoratively nailed fingers as she texted someone. “Just not getting this. Singer’s a bit of a knob.” This from someone  who’d paid money to see Justin Hawkins & co, and who was wearing a Steel Panther t-shirt. Two of the biggest “knobs” in frontsmen, and she reckons someone else is a bit of a nutjob?

In fairness, he was a bit of a knob. But a funny one, and certainly the most hyperactive lead singer I think I’ve ever witnessed on stage. Hell, the whole band were in permanent motion and there are 6 of them. I’m amazed there weren’t any accidents. The keyboard player with the huge beard spent a good portion of the set with one or both feet on the keys, or trying to play the huge instrument like a guitar. The bassist, at one point, had his guitar balanced by the head end upside down in one hand above his head. The singer, towards the end, was sat on the guitarist’s shoulders.

The Darkness
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Mental. What they crammed into a thirty minute set, many other bands barely manage to hit you with in ninety.

Oh, and the songs weren’t half bad either. Definitely one to watch out for.

And shortly after, the headliners. The Darkness blasted on stage to a rendition of “Black Shuck”, the brothers Hawkins acted as if the band hadn’t been on a forced hiatus after the lead singer decided that cocaine was a viable alternative to three square meals a day. Tight, fun, bouncy and loud.

The only other time I’ve seen them live was at Leeds Festival when they were still riding high with the one album under their wing. This didn’t make for a good set as the album is only around 45 minutes long and they played for ninety, which means a huge amount of filler including two unfinished songs. This time, however, was much improved.

The Darkness
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

Beginning the gig inside a huge cage, drummer Ed Graham was “released” part way through – the only major piece of stage work. The rest of the gimmicks relied on a couple of indoor fireworks and a ton of lights. And it worked just fine, thanks.

I think the band have had their day and are about where they should be after all the ridiculous hype around them when Permission To Land came out. They pretty much filled the Academy (not quite as much as Motorhead the other night, but still packed out), and the crowd had a whale of a time. The place was visibly jumping when the expected encore of I Believe In A Thing Called Love” began.

Not the huge stadium-filling megastars their record obviously thought they should be a few years ago, but damn good fun all the same.

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Motorhead – Glasgow Academy

Motorhead - Glasgow Academy
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

[More photos in this Flickr set]

“We are Motorhead… and we play rock and ******* roll!”

Thus sayeth Lemmy, a true metal god as the band introduce their last song of the evening. And bloody hell, do they.

Surprisingly I’ve only seen Motorhead once before, in a tent at Download a few years ago, and the Academy is a great venue to see any band (despite the slightly muddy sound that seems to be a side effect of the acoustics). The huge crowd was already ramming the place when we arrived partway through the Anti-Nowhere League‘s set. They were great and certainly had a number of their own followers in place for their support slot. UK Subs had opened, but we missed them unfortunately.

At half nine, the lights went down and the cheers went up as Lemmy, Phil and Mikkey took to the stage kicking off their set with “Bomber”. Little pockets of the crowd just started bouncing around and the front went obviously mental.

I have to say, looking around, it was nice to be at a gig where my age fit fairly well into the median. I’m used to being the old bastard who stands out… However, after a solid week of ploughing through Sons of Anarchy episodes, Gillian’s view of bikers has been dismissed as sad leather-clad fantasy now she’s been faced with a hall full of the real thing.

Motorhead - Glasgow Academy
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

As with quite a few of the gigs I go to, I’m no long-standing full-on fan of the headliners but I still recognised more than a handful of songs as the band played through more than a couple of classics. “Killed By Death“, “Orgasmatron” (still the best cover Sepultura ever did), “The One To Sing The Blues“, and new track “Back In Line” were well received as were the rest of the 90-minute set.

Even the drum and guitar solos went down well. Mikkey Dee gurns and mugs his way through the set in much the same way as Maiden’s crowd favourite Nicko – and joins the other two guys on acoustic guitar for one song (sorry – fans will know the track name). Phil Campbell was the most mobile of the three, ripping up a spotlit solo a little over halfway through the concert.

And then, right towards the end, and with no introduction… “Ace of Spades”. Like “Cowboys From Hell”, this is a song that – as soon as you recognise the opening notes – causes hairs to rise and skin to tingle when you hear it live.

A simple set – lights and a bit of smoke – coupled with some great songs and the crowd in their hands let Motorhead look like they could do this forever. I hope they do.

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