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STEEL PANTHER, Airbourne, Bare Bones, Lagerstein: Eaton’s Hill, Brisbane, 22/10/22

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I swear, the Lagerstein boys will be starting to think I have something against them.

For the umpteenth time I didn’t arrive early enough to catch their set, and no matter how many times I apologise to them, you can just tell they think I’m full of it.

Yes boys, in general I am, but when it comes to my timing and you guys it’s nothing personal. I promise.

Needless to say the general vibe from the massive crowd at Eaton’s Hill was that I once again missed something bordering on sensational, and when literally the first people you run into are members of the band and you have to apologise before even saying hello, well…

No excuses next time, lads!!!

I did get there in time to catch the start of Sydney hard rocking outfit Bare Bones, who impress the fuck out of me more each time I see them.

These guys leave absolutely nothing behind and despite the fact their bass player got lost by Virgin groundcrew somewhere, they still did exactly what they were there to do. Rev the fuck out of everyone in the crowd for the main course.

Without wasting part of their 30-minute set introducing themselves and gushing about how great it is to be on the same stage as blah blah blah, Bare Bones launched straight into things, opening with Gravebound and more setting patches of turf on fire rather than warm them up.

The wall of 12 Marshall’s behind them on stage was enough to let everyone know something special was coming, even though at that point of time the boxes were being used solely as lighting stands.

When vocalist Tom Kennedy demanded the crowd show their horns, they obliged. When he motioned for them to jump, they jumped.

Music is such a beautiful thing.

Ripping through a set that included Thick As Thieves, Ivory Dusk and Deathbound Visions, one of the highlights was new track House Of Static but pick of the set for me was closer Crawl The Night which had an intensely Pantera style vibe about it and left the assembled mass in nervous anticipation for late addition to the line-up, Airbourne.

In all, there’s actually three of the originally named bands that were absent tonight, the most noticeable of which being Sevendust. But there was also New Zealand legends Devilskin and Aussie outfit Dead Letter Circus absent, but by the time the familiar air raid sirens announced Airbourne were being called front and centre, no-one cared to remember what was missing. The focus was fully aimed at who was there.

And that was one of Australia’s finest ever hard rock exports, Airbourne.

The boys have spent the last five months playing through the UK, Germany, France, Poland and South America, all the while honing their already immense live show into a beast of a machine that is pure adrenalin from start to finish.

When Joel declared that “all we give a shit about is this. We’re back here in Australia!” the passion and sincerity in his voice was enough to send the capacity house into patriotic raptures and made at least this reviewer proud to call them one of our own.

The band literally ran onto stage to open their set, ripping into Ready To Rock and following with Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast before anyone had time to catch their breath and the electricity in the air was the result of the magic only a truly great rock show can deliver.

Airbourne are the Valvoline Oil of hard rock; slick, smooth and well lubricated. With them, it’s not just another show. It’s a chance to win over more souls to rock, and by now if at least half of the planet has not pledged their allegiance then there are serious misgivings in the music establishment.

Girls In Black kept the flame burning, although there were just as many girls in leotards and boys in pink as there was anyone in black. Those Steel Panther supporters are fashion savvy if nothing else.

Airbourne powered through Burnout The Nitro and Back In The Game, but it was It’s All For Rock & Roll and the heartfelt dedication to Lemmy Kilmister that will live in the minds of everyone present. It wasn’t just a dedication to the great man, it was a celebration of everything the man has given rock and metal, with Joel pouring each band member a JD and coke before toasting Lemmy and finishing the song with a scintillating guitar solo that finished with his guitar pointed in salute to wherever Lemmy is finishing his final Jack.

It was both touching and humbling, and epitomized what hard rock and heavy metal means to all those fortunate enough to be touched by it.

Closing with Runnin’ Wild that featured a brief breakdown of AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock, frontman Joel O’Keeffe left as his parting words “As long as we’re alive, and you’re alive, rock and roll will never die.”

A truer word has never been spoken, brother.

In all honesty, I doubt many bands in the world could have come on after Airbourne and matched them for intensity. Not even Steel Panther.

But to their credit, they didn’t even try.

Launching straight into Goin’ In The Backdoor and Tomorrow Night, Steel Panther proved straight up they have lost none of their appeal. Musically, they are all talented as fuck, but it’s when they start their between song banter that the band’s true magnetism shines through.

Picture a live comedy show punctuated by rock and glam (not so much metal) and you have an inkling of the world Steel Panther inhabit.

They have always been known for their crass view of the world, but tonight they seemed to have clicked into another gear. The usual jokes were there, like the special Steel Panther COVID mask with holes, so you can do you know what to their you know what and their suggestive comments to the finer sex flew thicker than a Mexican rolling ball but for some reason the jokes weren’t hitting the mark as much as they usually do.

Or used to.

Don’t get me wrong, it was everything you love and expect from a Steel Panther show, but for the first out of probably six times I have seen them the between song banter took up far more time than the music between them.

Almost half an hour had elapsed by the time they finished their third song Asian Hooker (which of course featured a possibly retired version of the subject matter and a scantily clad and adventurous younger version who playfully romped with the band in front of an appreciative audience).

This continued when frontman Michael Starr enticed two ladies who were enjoying each other’s company up onto stage to share their love with the world, and suddenly Steel Panther were back in party mode.

This, of course, provided the perfect segue into Poontang Boomerang, but it was new song Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight) that put a touch of metal back into things before Starr asked the masses if they wanted to see “the greatest Randy Rhodes impersonation ever” and guitarist Satchel launched into Crazy Train. It was pretty damn impressive I have to admit, but not as much as Starr’s Ozzy Osbourne impersonation that saw him mimicking the great man and his shuffling persona while singing a little too close to Ozzy for comfort. When he bowed his head and raised it gnawing on a bat between his teeth, I dead set nearly peed in my pants. Touché boys.

New bass player Spyder fit in to the scheme of things seamlessly, joining in the banter and showing no signs of nerves from being the new guy. I have to admit, it was refreshing to see him actually play his instrument and engage with the crowd rather than stare blankly into a mirror while brushing his hair.

Between you and me, that used to shit the fuck out of me.

Fan favourites 17 Girls In A Row and Death To All But Metal carried the set to conclusion before the inevitable encores of Community Property and Glory Hole signalled the end of the Steel Panther comedy hour – or 90 minute hour – and off the boys swept to the cavern of delights that must surely be behind door number three after every performance.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive Steel Panther fan and have always loved their humour and banter, but 12 songs, a cover and a guitar solo in 90 minutes is stretching the friendship a little much…

But, as we all know, when you are one of the biggest bands in the world the only thing that truly matters is they came out to visit our part of the world, and in doing so left their immeasurable mark once more on Panther fans across the land.

And at the end of the day, who am I to ask for more?

The last show of the tour is tonight in Melbourne…

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