Steel Panther @ Newcastle O2 Arena, November 7 2012

Reinventing the Steel is a pretty pointless exercise. So Michael, Satchel, Stix and Lexxi simply don’t bother.

‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ is the old adage this bunch of adolescent boys in men’s bodies intend to live and die by. And when it’s this good you can kinda see their point.

One minor tweak is the carefully scripted mid-song banter with fresh lines complementing a familiar setlist filled with lewd crowd favourites. 

Fears that these funny men had run out of material were swiftly allayed as Satchel and Michael Starr traded verbal blows like arsey little kids in the schoolyard.

The latter’s suggestion that Reckless Love’s Olli Herman could be the next Steel Panther frontman drew knowing chuckles from those well aware of the rising stars on the hair metal scene.

And the Starbucks – or should that be Starrbucks – skit worked particularly well: it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to picture the band’s sleazy frontman asking unsuspecting female customers if they’d like an extra shot.

After just two songs the gloves were off where Starr and Satchel were concerned. But what has changed since the Panther first clawed its way onto one of Download’s minor stages is the role of Lexxi Foxxx.

On that memorable day, under a sweating tarpaulin,  the preening bass player boasted many of the band’s best one-liners. These days he’s been shunted into a peripheral support slot with Satchel and Starr the main men. Who knows why? But it’s a damn shame.

Foxx’s diminishing impact aside, what’s not to like about Steel Panther in 2012?

Still crazy, still dirty and still capable of delivering the perfect pastiche on a frankly risible genre, it’s like watching the Rock Of Ages DVD extras in real life.

Living for the moment and ensuring the moment will live forever, Steel Panther play some of the most ridiculous songs on the planet with smiles on their faces and money in their pockets. Sold out across the UK, this tour is a godsend for touts and a hot ticket for the rest: no wonder support act Falling Red looked like a band that couldn’t quite believe its luck as they showcased their catchy party rock to a seriously packed house.

Satchel’s solo blast through many of British rock’s defining riffs was a genuine highlight but it paled into insignificance when set alongside the standout moment of a magical night.

When Starr suggested Anthrax legend Joey Belladonna was waiting in the wings to lend his harmonies to an AOR classic few could have believed his boast was genuine.

Even those aware of the fact that the Bay Area thrasher’s band was supporting Motorhead at Newcastle City Hall 24 hours later must have considered this was nothing more than another lame joke.

But sure enough Belladonna appeared to duet with Starr on Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ and bring the house down as a result. A genuine treat for metal fans of a mid 80s vintage, it matched Corey Taylor’s Donington cameo in terms of a landmark Panther moment.

Three years ago the critics wondered aloud just how long this childish piss take on hair metal would prevail: right now the joke’s on them. This band might major in bad taste but the appetite for Steel Panther in the UK remains insatiable. And eatin’ ain’t cheatin’.

Simon Rushworth