Imagine idolizing a band for years, starting a band in honor of them, and then one day getting an invitation to perform with them? Sounds unreal, doesn’t it? Yet that’s exactly what happened to the tribute band Surreal Panther who got to perform “Eyes of a Panther” with the glam metal rockers they memorialize, Steel Panther. The phenomenal collaboration took place during a Steel Panther concert at O2 Academy in Leicester, UK on March 13, 2015, and the crowd was ecstatic.
The news that they were to perform together came suddenly to the members of Surreal Panther, who were initially just given backstage passes and “meet and greet tickets” to the performance. In the form of a text, their idols notified them to “Be ready to rock with us tonight” because they wanted to “see how good they were.”
When the moment to hit the stage came, it was Steel Panther who brought Surreal Panther to the stage, as if the tribute band were the real superstars. And superstars they became as the band handed over their instruments. Right after the lead guitarist of Surreal Panther Benji Heenan gave a practice guitar riff, the lead guitarist of Steel Panther Russ Parrish (known by his stage name Satchel), remarked first to the crowd “This will be awesome! We’ll sing along…” and then after the singer of Surreal Panther Jamie Fowkes asked the crowd “Are you ready?” Satchel exclaimed “He sounds just like Michael Starr, it’s freaky!”
Yet even as the Steel Panther tribute band – Surreal Panther – took center stage in performing “Eyes of a Panther,” the actual members of Steel Panther did anything but stand aside. As counterpart frontmen, Fowkes and Starr tag-teamed back and forth with the microphone, and Stachel provided air guitar support while Heenan rocked the guitar solo
When Surreal Panther finished playing, the original band was truly impressed, and the tribute band could scarcely believe that audience was going crazy for them. They even seemed reluctant to even take a bow, but the original Steel Panther members brought them to the front of the stage to be recognized by the crowd. As they were exiting the stage, Starr remarked that his band members were the uglier of the two groups, and Satchel urged Starr to work on his moves to keep up with his double.
The highlight of the performance was definitely the band’s tribute to their own tribute band, and only true showman could pull off that kind of showmanship.