download-poster-new@ Castle Donington, Tuborg Stage, June 14 2009

In general bands lauded by the rock press without little evidence of their live acumen, those hailed as the next big thing even before they’re headed out of the starting blocks and those described as the ‘must see’ act at any given festival fail to live up to the hype. Then there are bands like Steel Panther.

Forget Spinal Tap, consign The Darkness to the history books and spare a thought for Dragonforce – the new kids on the block manage to blow all the aforementioned acts into the water with a mix of spoof quality, sharp spontaneity and stunning professionalism. Sadly, it’s unlikely they’ll have much more staying power than Devon Loch so enjoy the Panther while you can – on this evidence it’ll be the best show you see all year.

There’s no doubting debut album Feel The Steel is a classic send-up of the hair metal genre but recording a slew of songs about shagging is one thing. Playing them live and playing them in all seriousness is another matter but the four actors charged with doing just that pulled off a performance which will live long in the memory of those fortunate enough to have found a way inside the Tuborg tent.

The songs were sensational, the banter brilliant and those outfits were never cool – even when you played in Poison in 1989. Faux ballad Community Property probably stole the show as far as the cleverly manufactured tunes were concerned but the exchange between guitarist Satchel and singer Michael Starr, regarding Journey’s Arnel Pineda, was the hilarious high point. You had to be there.

Like a teenager’s first kiss it was over far too fast and for some it left a nasty taste in the mouth. For the majority – men and women, rockers and metal heads, emo kids and punk noiseniks – this was smile on the face time tenfold. If Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin doesn’t become a global hit then I’ll eat my…well, let’s leave the Panther to finish that sentence shall we?