Early doors tonight mean that the eager Belfast crowd are inside in the heat and stage front and ready for tonight’s killer line-up. DJ Matt Stocks is on hand to warm up the modest early arrivals as people clamber to get to the barrier for what is highly anticipated as THE show to be at right now! Tonight see’s Steel Panther honour their promise to return to Belfast after a sold out show at the Limelight only a year ago, true to their word they’re back and bigger and bolder than ever with an upgraded venue and a sizeable crowd in tow.
DJ Matt is throwing out 90’s banger after another, Motley Crue and David Lee Roth to name but a few but as we approach 8pm I see from the corner of my eye the solitary figure of Gus G enter the room stage right and shit is just about to get real! Gus is out supporting his latest release Fearless, which was released in April last year and sees him stepping out from the shadows and up front and centre, deservedly so. Within thirty seconds of his set you know this is going to be something very special indeed, a majestic guitar player capable of frightening runs and blistering solos he has every air guitarist in the room shitting their pants in awe. Song after song he brutalises his fret board with complete savagery and undying finesse.
Bassist Dennis Ward shares vocal duties and provides a breather from the instrumental aspect if Gus’ playing, with riffage in abundance there’s plenty for the Belfast crowd to get their teeth into as each and every song has a beautifully violent and purposeful guitar solo that just takes the breath away. A seriously solid performance from both bassist and drummer mean that this aint just a one-man pony show as each match each other stride for stride ensuring tonights performance is going to be a memorable one. Throw in a Dire Straits cover ‘Money For Nothing’ and follow it up with an homage to Thin Lizzy and you have the Belfast crowd eating out of your hand.
Gus’s penultimate track is ‘Force Majure’ an instrumental off his latest album which to see live is just an absolute joy, arpeggios amundo as he rips his way across his fret board yet again to steal the last breath from each and every gig goer in the room. Wrapping up his set with ‘I Am Fire’ with an extended guitar solo, said guitar raised hig above his head he again lights it up with a foray of notes in mind blowing fashion that just cements his place as one of the modern day greats, stunning artistry in the highest order and an absolute pleasure to witness.
What can you say about Steel Panther that hasn’t been said before? One of the best shows in the business delivered by four solid musicians, lunatics dressed in leather and spandex. You kind of enter the twilight zone here when you walk into a Steel Panther gig, when the lads take the stage all bets are off as chaos ensues and the party begins as they unleash their brand of music and humour on the Belfast crowd. As previously stated the last time they played here was at a packed out Limelight Belfast, now they’re playing to a packed out Ulster Hall. These guys just go from strength to strength and justifiably so. Fantastic musicians with larger than life personalitiesjust make this band something very special indeed.
Satchel armed with his latest Charvel, Lexxi armed with his latest mirror and Michael Starr armed with a smile the size of a Cheshire cat just take this show by the balls and don’t let go. The Belfast crowd are eating out of their hands from the off. With dance moves even your father would be embarrassed by and more jokes that the European Union have about the UK’s attempt at Brexit this is by far one of the hottest tickets on the road right now. Nobody escapes their humour, what starts with Satchel riffing Randy Roads turns into a full blow cover of ‘Crazy Train’ with Michael Starr on stage dressed as Ozzy, mimicking him perfectly to the applause of the Fanthers below. This was followed by a 90’s inspired guitar solo by the man himself Satchel, whilst playing various Rock anthems behind the drums and encouraging the crowd to get involved whilst building to a crescendo. What can top that? ‘Party All Night, Fuck All Day’ and a stage consumed by the Fanthers below, 50 maybe or more on stage strutting their stuff the only way these classy Belfast bird’s know how too, badly! Of course stripper favourite ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ and Bon Jovi’s ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’ follow for the ladies to terrify the band some more.
As the stage clears there’s only one thing this crowd needs right now, ‘Community Property’ and as Michael pushes his microphone out over the crowd the room comes to life once again as Belfast unites in fine voice. As the guys wrap up a fantastic nights entertainment you cant help but hold your hands up to these guys for what they have created, a community in love with 90’s Rock & Metal that allow these crazy motherfuckers the opportunity to travel the world and bring a smile to millions of faces worldwide year after year. Long may it last!
A final word from the lads themselves, “If it’s not Heavy Metal you can suck our dicks!”
Review & Photography : Mark McGrogan