THE LAZYS PUT ON ROCKING SET DESPITE SINGER LEON HARRISON’S FALL
Date: October 5, 2019
Venue: Club Absinthe
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Australia’s loss has definitely been Canada’s gain. After toiling in Australia for many years and releasing a string of EPs and even a full-length album, The Lazys decided to relocate to Canada after an amazing experience at the Canadian Music Week in Toronto back in 2014. Since then, The Lazys started writing with Billy Talent guitarist Ian D’Sa and came up with a masterpiece — also known as their latest studio album Tropical Hazards. That record is simply a killer one and still better to my ears than any album that has been released since then. Not surprisingly, Tropical Hazards took the #1 spot on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2018 and a very impressive #5 finish on the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2018 (when you take into account that none of their prior albums had ever charted on a Sleaze Roxx year end album list). I get that The Lazys improved considerably under D’Sa‘s tutelage but whatever the case, how sad that the group had to leave Australia to really boost its musical career. Of note, The Lazys played a number of prominent rock festivals this summer including Wacken Open Air in Germany and the Bloodstock Festival in the UK.
Given my love for The Lazys‘ latest record Tropical Hazards and after being blown away by their live performance the first time that I saw them live last year in late April, I have made a point of catching the band play live as much as I can. This is of course much easier now that the group is based in Canada. With The Lazys getting more and more international recognition, the opportunities to see the band play live in the greater Toronto area were actually pretty slim this year and after having seen the band play five times last year (and six if you include the two shows in the same town on the same day), this was my first time seeing the group play live in 2019. The occasion was The Lazys‘ comprehensive west / central tour of Canada dubbed the Canadian Half Mast Blues Tour. One thing that I really like about The Lazys when they tour Canada is that there are multiple opportunities for me to see the band play as the group is not shy about playing just about any market within an hour of Toronto (such as in St. Catharines, Hamilton, Kitchener and Oshawa) on top of playing in Toronto.
This time around, I elected to go see The Lazys play at Club Absinthe in Hamilton. I could have easily gone to see them in St. Catharines the night before but the Hamilton tour date was more convenient for me when I took everything else into consideration (i.e. wife, kids, work, etc.). After tucking everybody into bed, I made the drive from Toronto to Hamilton while blaring Tropical Hazards in my car’s CD player. I made it to the Club Absinthe venue just as Black Collar Union were playing their last song of the night. A good chunk of the audience were really into the band as I could see people jumping (yes, literally jumping) for sustained periods of time with their fists in the air in the first couple of rows. I definitely got the impression that I had missed out on a great set. Black Collar Union had the distinction that it was their drummer Matt D’Alvise that was handling the lead vocals — at least on their last song of the night. Overall, I was impressed with Black Collar Union from the little that I saw of them. I would have liked to catch the other opening act Lawless Sons‘ set as well since I believe that they were scheduled to play at the Hair In The Fair Festival in Welland, Ontario this summer (the festival never took place at the end) but I was just too busy with life to make it earlier than when I arrived at the venue (at around 10:30 pm) on this night.
Before long, it was time for The Lazys to hit the stage. I could tell that there were a lot of familiar faces for the group in the crowd because I could see various band members joking around with some audience members and many of them going out of their way to hug a lady that was standing near me. Now, most people know that Australians like to drink. I have encountered many Aussies when I backpacked throughout Europe as a young lad and again when my wife and I visited the country back in 2005 (wow, everything seems so long ago). In any case, I was surprised by the amount of large cans of presumably beer that were nestled on one of the amps near new bassist Troy Smith‘s (who ironically might be a Canadian) corner of the stage. They might have been also for rhythm guitarist Liam Shearer who also shares the right side of the stage (if you’re facing the stage from the audience standpoint). At this point, I really didn’t think much of the abundance of tall “beer” cans on stage.
The Lazys started off strong reeling off some of their arguably best known songs one after the other to the point that I wondered what they would end their set with. The group kicked things off with the one-two-three punch of “Picture Thieves,” “Howling Woman” and “Black Rebel” and it had the crowd going right from the start. There’s no question that The Lazys exude a lot of energy up on stage and it’s really contagious when you’re in the audience watching (and singing along with) the band members. New bassist Troy Smith in particular was a bundle of energy and frankly could easily be the frontman of just about any band. More of The Lazys‘ well known songs followed with “Little Miss Crazy” (single #2 from Tropical Hazards), “Nothing But Trouble” (single #1 from Tropical Hazards), “Shake It Like You Mean It” (which The Lazys frontman Leon Harrison described as the first song that Canadians recognized from the band or something like that) and “Half Mast Blues” (single #4 from Tropical Hazards). To put things into perspective, six of the first seven songs played by The Lazys have a video, which many people would interpret as meaning those are their best songs. Unfortunately, Harrison‘s vocals were a bit hard to hear but since I knew the songs quite well, it didn’t matter that much.
It seemed that for every second song played by The Lazys, someone was bringing shots for the band members to drink, which they all seemingly happily complied with. Although all of The Lazys band members (with perhaps Matty Morris being the exception) were downing quite a bit of shots, none of them seemed to miss a note while playing on stage which was quite impressive. While introducing “Love Your Gun”, Harrison provided the first real signs (to me) that he was perhaps more intoxicated than planned as he seemed to have a hard time introducing the song mentioning perhaps it should be “Hate Your Guns” or something like that. Eventually, Harrison‘s microphone wasn’t working for whatever reason and the singer joked (while speaking in Morris‘ microphone) that the band didn’t have enough money to hire a technician so these were the type of things that the band had to deal with. Harrison also jokingly singled out Shearer and Smith, and dubbed them “The Croakers” as both had apparently lost their voice and were perhaps (as suggested by Harrison) using backing tracks for their background vocals. Harrison encouraged both of them to talk to the audience and I believe only Shearer did at which time it became obvious that his voice was really hoarse.
As previously indicated, The Lazys band members exude a lot of energy on stage so it’s not uncommon to see them moving around the stage during a live performance. At one point, Harrison dove onto and lied down on what looked like what could be a bar except that it separated the audience members from what appeared to be a temporary storage area for other bands’ instruments, guitar cases, etc.
On a later occasion, I saw Harrison moving around and the next thing I knew, he was laying down on the stage floor tangled in some microphone cords. I couldn’t see his face as he appeared to be lying on his left side with his back to the audience but he took quite a bit of time to move from that position. The other group members kept playing whichever song that they were doing while Harrison laid on the floor for what seemed like a significant amount of time. Shearer even wandered over to Harrison‘s spot to see how the singer was doing. I wish that I had taken a photo of Harrison lying on the ground as it was kind of a funny sight to see. Eventually and luckily, Harrison got up and kept on going. He joked that he should have learned the lesson of never smoking marijuana before taking the stage and blamed his fall on Shearer tripping him. I must say that I was a little surprised to see Harrison in this state onstage but overall, he did quite well taking everything into account. Morris seemed a little surprised as well and indicated that this was the “funnest” gig that the band had had in some time. It was hard to say whether this was a genuine comment from Morris or whether the band’s lead guitarist and co-founder was attempting some damage control after Harrison‘s fall.
I think that it was Morris that pointed out to the crowd that the band had been coming year after year to Hamilton before thanking the crowd at hand. Harrison mentioned that there were only six people in the audience the first time that the group played in Hamilton. I can’t remember if that first show (as per Harrison) dated back to 2009 or 2014. Harrison asked the audience if anyone was part of those six people that attended The Lazys’ first show in Hamilton and the lady that had received many hugs from various band members before the band’s set raised her hand. Even before I had gotten to Club Absinthe, I was thinking about the recent comments from Autograph‘s new lead guitarist Jimi Bell who stated during an interview with Mick Michaels for The Cosmick View that younger bands were not paying their dues and how I thought that The Lazys were one of those “new” bands that were actually paying their dues. I get that there are less opportunities for bands to play live these days but it does irk me when I see bands calling it quits after playing a few gigs and things not going their way. In any case, The Lazys are living proof that determination, perseverance and some good old sweat equity can eventually lead to good, if not great, things.
This is probably the first concert where I was having such a good time right off the bat that I didn’t really take any photos until the fourth song played by The Lazys. Eventually, I copied down the setlist from the one that was taped to the floor near Morris’ spot on stage. There were two songs which I didn’t recognize (“Punk” and the encore “One’s Too Many”) but as it turns out, I had heard both songs before and knew the encore track quite well given that it was off Tropical Hazards. I am still not 100% sure that the “Punk” song on the setlist is the track “Punk Come N Get Me” from The Lazys‘ self-titled album but that’s what I will go with for the setlist below. Overall, The Lazys put on a fun and energetic set and I hope to catch them at least one more time on their Canadian Half Mast Blues Tour later this month.
The Lazys’ setlist on October 5, 2019:
01. Picture Thieves
02. Howling Woman
03. Black Rebel
04. Little Miss Crazy
05. Nothing But Trouble
06. Shake It Like You Mean It
07. Half Mast Blues
08. Love Your Gun
09. All Fired Up
10. Punk Come N Get Me
11. Louder Than Youth
12. Can’t Kill The Truth
13. One’s Too Many