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Rock Of Ages Brings Rock Music and pop Metal out of the Closet

Did we ever stop really loving Starship's 'We Built This City', Whitesnakes's 'Here I Go Again' or of course, the most popular download ever, 'Don't Stop Believin'?

Rock music, like Ozzy Osbourne, should have died years ago.

By that, I mean the brand of AOR and pop metal which has been given a new lease of life by 'Rock of Ages', which opened officially last night in London's West End.

Starring the talents of Justin Lee Collins and X-Factor winner Shayne Ward, it celebrates that era of the 1980s when rock stars had yet to confuse themselves with God, but had an unhealthy crush on cowboys ( Jon Bon Jovi) ; when if they weren't rolling around on car bonnets with glamour models they'd later marry ( David Coverdale of Whitesnake) you'd find them in the jacuzzi snorting cocaine off a hooker's backside ( almost certainly everyone, but definitely Motley Crue.)

It was a time when 'Slippery When Wet' was considered morally offensive, and Poison's 'Every Rose Has Its Thorn' was considered serious songwriting. It was, in short, a time when all dudes, not just Steven Tyler, looked like ladies; when, according to Mickey Rourke's characer in 'The Wrestler', "there were proper songs, until that pussy Cobain came along and spoiled everything."

Like Def Leppard in the 1990s, these songs refused to go away through two decades of grunge and nu-metal. But until 'Glee' put Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin' on the road back to rehabilitation, you'd only hear them on Guilty Pleasures club nights or on specialist rock stations ( and that was when they were playing 'party rock.')

But did we ever stop really loving Starship's 'We Built This City', Whitesnakes's 'Here I Go Again' or of course, the most popular download ever, 'Don't Stop Believin'?

Singing along to the show, the audience at London's Shaftesbury Theatre had the relieved air of someone who's come out after decades in the closet.

Nor does it seem that rock's big night out will be as rare as a smile from Axl Rose. Not only is the movie version of 'Rock of Ages' in the pipeline, but this week daytime Radio 1 played both the Black Veil Brides and Steel Panther.

The Black Veil Brides, who have a sold out tour across the UK this month, combine ball-breaking rock with camel-toe spandex, black warpaint and the kind of hair that's styled by sticking a finger into a electric socket.

Steel Panther, from Hollywood, play 1980s riffs with roll-in-the aisle lyrics; with titles like' Fat Girl' and 'Asian Hooker', they out-Spinal the Tap. And their songs are considerably better.

" Where is Def Leppard? Where is Motley Crue?" Panther asks earnestly in their track, 'Death to All But Metal' The answer is, they'll all be found on tour with Steel Panther in the UK in December. The Darkness, the UK's last experiment with hair metal, played a triumphant headline set at the Download Festival in June, and are also set to tour next year.

We like to regard glam metal bands and their songs with the same furtive horror that comes from farting in a lift. And yet most of the bands featured in 'Rock of Ages' are still going - so someone's buying their records.

While I'll never advocate wearing stone-washed denim again ( and that goes for you too, Agyness Deyn) these tunes offer jubilant, life-affirming fun. Times are serious - why does the music have to be?