Last Bullet Concert Review


Show Date: July 19, 2014
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Venue: Lee’s Palace
Reviewer: Olivier
Band Websites:

One of the idiosyncrasies of being a headlining band — at least in the local Toronto rock scene — is that the headliners sometimes don’t take the usual closing slot. Rather than ending a night of rock and roll, the headlining band sometimes chooses the best time slot to play, where audience attendance is maximized, and can result in playing second or third on a bill featuring five or more groups. If you are like me and not always inclined, or have the time, to see all of the bands featured on a bill, you need to figure out in advance what time the headliners that you want to see and hear are actually playing.

Last Bullet was scheduled to headline at Lee’s Palace with four other bands playing including Fallen Heirs, Left Turn City and The Joy Arson. I had never heard of those other groups aside that they had opened for Last Bullet at a smaller club called The Hideout in Toronto a while back. Given that the previous gig had sold out, it made sense that the bands would get together again on the same bill but at Lee’s Palace — a larger venue with a capacity of 500 people that has hosted such heavyweights as Airbourne and Europe in the past.

Having had the pleasure of interviewing and meeting Last Bullet frontman Bryan Fontez last year (click here to read the interview), he was kind enough to provide me with an estimate of when the band would be playing, between 10:30 and 11 pm, about a week prior to the show. Although I had been made aware of the quirks of a headliner’s start time six years ago, I had forgotten about them so guessed Fontez‘s estimated starting time could be inaccurate.

Fast forward to the Saturday night in question, I was planning on arriving at Lee’s Palace at 10:45 pm, if not later, but decided to check with Fontez shortly prior to the estimated start time. The answer was more precise this time — 10:50 pm. With only about 40 minutes to get to the venue while fighting the always unpredictable Toronto traffic, I was luckily able to make it to the venue’s doors by 10:48 pm. Unfortunately, my good friend and occasional Sleaze Roxx writer, Chris (who advised me later on wanting to be referred as “The Peruvian” in this review), was not so lucky and arrived during Last Bullet‘s second last song of the evening. Although The Peruvian blamed me for his late arrival, I note that he never did explain exactly why he was delayed and late. Fellow Sleaze Roxx writer Mark Horvath, and his girlfriend Christine, were already in the venue by the time I arrived — this just might have been the largest ever gathering of Sleaze Roxx writers in one concert venue at any one time.

Last Bullet in TorontoLast Bullet in Toronto
This was probably my third time at Lee’s Palace and when you walk into the venue there is a long bar in the back that stretches to one side. If you move forward about ten steps, there is a stairwell that takes you downwards towards the general admission area. The stage however feels like it is almost level with the higher floor so a person of average height in general admission might have their head facing a performer’s feet. What this really means is that there are many good vantage points to see the stage.

Last Bullet kicked off their set with “Runnin’ Out Of Time” and all I could think about was how I had forgotten just how good and how underrated this band really is! Right from the start, they expanded lots of energy led by their charismatic frontman Fontez — who has tons of stage presence. The band did not let up jumping into “Jet”, another tune from their ‘Love.Lust.Illusion.’ album, before playing one of my favorites, “Can’t Move On”, from their debut EP. Around that time, if not earlier, Fontez announced that the band had about half an hour more to play. I thought that this was way too short of a set, but understandable considering five bands were playing.

Last Bullet in TorontoLast Bullet in Toronto
What struck both Horvath and I was that the general admission area was comprised of mostly young female fans for Last Bullet‘s set — I can’t recall the last time I had seen more females than males in the audience at a rock concert. I acknowledge not having seen someone such as Bon Jovi headline a show, but considering Last Bullet has a harder edge sound I was impressed with the female turnout. It was certainly a change from the mostly male audience that I am accustomed to — but back to the show. Last Bullet then started playing some new songs that I had never heard before. Most of them seemed a little slower paced, at least at the beginning, than the songs played from their previous albums. I enjoyed the new compositions on a first listen but will readily admit that I was there to hear the songs that I already knew and love. It seems that the inclusion of the three new tracks put my favorite Last Bullet song, “Cowboy”, out to pasture on this evening, which is a real shame since it is such a rocking number. I really hope that “Cowboy” makes it back to Last Bullet‘s set sooner rather than later.

At one point Fontez thanked the audience for not going to see Scott Weiland play, given that the former Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman was performing less than five kilometers away at another venue. It seems that the “issue” of multiple concerts by bands within similar genres on the same night in Toronto reared its ugly head again. Given that Fontez is a huge Velvet Revolver fan, it was no surprise that Last Bullet played a cover of Stone Temple Pilots‘ “Vasoline”. While I thought Fontez sounded great on all the Last Bullet songs, hitting the high notes and holding his screams for a long time, his voice did not seem to fit “Vasoline” that well. The frontman was also good at interacting with the audience — which is always a plus — as he introduced most of the songs, including a new one which was about pussy and called “Southern Lips”.

Last Bullet in TorontoLast Bullet in Toronto
Last Bullet ended their stellar set with “State Of Confusion”, a Led Zeppelin-esque number a la “Black Dog”, my favorite of the night “Girl’s Gone Wild”, and “Forget The Rest”, which the band recently shot a video for. After asking if the ladies in the audience were feeling sexy, Last Bullet launched into “Girl’s Gone Wild” — which was interrupted halfway by a solo from lead guitarist Brenden Armstrong. Now, I am not a fan of any drum, bass or guitar solos by any means, however it seemed fitting that Armstrong would get the spotlight because he is one heck of a guitarist who seems more focused on great riffs and fitting his style into the songs than overshadowing with virtuosity. Horvath pointed out that Fontez and Armstrong seemed to have, or could have, the same type of magic as Aerosmith‘s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry or the Rolling StonesMick Jagger and Keith Richards — and I have to agree. The remaining members of Last Bullet, guitarist Michael Silva, bassist Will Shannon, and new drummer Chris Galaz also deserve a lot of credit because they are rock solid.

As any great frontman will do — and it takes guts to do so because if it does not work, it sucks — Fontez was able to get the audience to sing along after him during the show closer “Forget The Rest”. After the show, Hovarth, his girlfriend Christine and I were able to chat with the singer at the band’s merchandise booth and we were pleased to hear that Last Bullet plan on releasing a new record in late 2014 or more likely in early 2015. As Fontez pointed out, Last Bullet is a very hard working band that is fueled by passion for its craft. A testament to that is the very large tattoo on one of the frontman’s arms stating “PASSION”.

Fallen Heirs in TorontoFallen Heirs in Toronto
Given that we had lingered behind after Last Bullet‘s set, we all ended up catching Fallen Heirs‘ performance. I had never heard any of their songs but within a few minutes I was intrigued by the excellent heavy music and in particular by singer Tim Shaw‘s voice, which I really enjoyed. I wasn’t going to include Fallen Heirs in this review but they were so good that I eventually went back to the general admission area to snap some photos and get a close-up view of the Toronto rockers. I noted that the female contingent that was in attendance for Last Bullet had largely dissipated and been replaced by a number of guys. I can’t tell you that much about Fallen Heirs‘ songs since I did not know any of them beforehand and only got their setlist after contacting the band through Facebook. Nevertheless, I found the songs on a first listen to be in a similar vein as Last Bullet yet heavier and faster — however Shaw sounded nothing like Fontez so the two bands sounded different. The Peruvian (i.e. Chris) was so impressed with Fallen Heirs that he thought that they were better than Last Bullet — I disagreed and chalked that up to Chris only catching the last two songs from Last Bullet‘s set. I did purchase Fallen Heirs‘ self-titled EP after their show so who knows once I listen to it on a regular basis.

Overall I had a great evening as I got to catch up with some friends, witness a killer show by one of my favorite new bands, Last Bullet, and discover a promising new group in Fallen Heirs.

Fallen Heirs in TorontoFallen Heirs in Toronto
Last Bullet setlist:
01. Runnin’ Out Of Time
02. Jet
03. Can’t Move On
04. Bright Lights
05. Smoke And Ashes
06. Vasoline (Stone Temple Pilots cover)
07. Southern Lips
08. State Of Confusion
09. Girls Gone Wild
10. Guitar Solo
11. Girls Gone Wild (reprise)
12. Forget The Rest

Fallen Heirs setlist:
01. I Need To Know
02. Burn
03. Freak Show
04. Voice Of The Devil
05. Ready To Run
06. Set Me Free
07. Lead Us To Water
08. Wake Up