WHAT A DIFFERENCE FIVE YEARS MAKES — THE LAZYS BLOW THE ROOF OFF SOLD OUT HORSESHOE TAVERN
Date: October 18, 2019
Venue: Horseshoe Tavern
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I don’t know why this has to occur time and time again but there were not one, not two, but three concerts that I wanted to attend on the same night, all within an approximately one hour distance of each other. The first show that was announced for October 18th was Cinderella frontman Tom Keifer‘s tour stop at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls (on the US side). I applied for a photo pass / press pass and knew that I would likely not hear back until the day of the concert. In the meantime, The Lazys announced their Half Mast Blues Tour 2019 throughout Canada and lo and behold, their Toronto tour stop was going to be at the Horseshoe Tavern on October 18th. I wasn’t that upset about The Lazys since they were playing many of the nearby cities to Toronto on their tour and I had already caught them at their stop in Hamilton back on October 5th. I also had the option of trucking down to nearby Oshawa to catch them play on October 19th. The third concert in question on October 18th involved the Killer Dwarfs who were playing their seemingly annual show at The Rockpile in Toronto that night.
A few days prior to October 18th, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to get to Niagara Falls in a timely manner to see Keifer. When you’re issued a photo pass or press pass, there are some expectations that you’ll be there at a certain time and rolling in at the last minute can sometimes backfire against you. In any case, I knew that I would likely not even get to Niagara Falls in time for Keifer‘s set since my kids’ activities meant chauffeuring services on my part up in Toronto until about 8:00 pm. The next choice was The Lazys or the Killer Dwarfs. That was a very easy choice. The Lazys released (in my humble opinion) the best album of 2018 (the stellar Tropical Hazards) and have always put on a great live show each of the seven previous times that I had seen them in the last 1.5 years. The Killer Dwarfs on the other hand have become a bit of a hit or miss. Their live shows were at first awesome when they came back in late 2013 but the last few times that I saw them, they were sometimes disappointing. Interestingly enough, the first time that I saw The Lazys live was on April 19, 2018 and the very next night, I went to see the Killer Dwarfs play at The Rockpile. The Lazys blew my mind on April 19th while I did not even bother doing a concert review for Sleaze Roxx of the Dwarfs‘ disappointing outing the next night.
Luckily for me, I was able to still purchase a ticket for The Lazys‘ Horseshoe Tavern show one day prior to the scheduled event. I was actually worried that the show would sell out as The Lazys had sold out the Brass Monkey in Ottawa the night before (on October 16th). And that was on a Wednesday night to boot! The legendary and veteran Canadian hard rock act Helix didn’t sell out the Brass Monkey on a Friday night (on October 11th) five nights earlier (although they had a good turnout) so that tells you something about The Lazys‘ surge in popularity (stay tuned for my review of Helix‘s concert coming soon). By the time I got to the venue at a little past 10:30 pm on the evening of the show, one of the bouncers at the door warned me that I needed a ticket to get in as the venue was nearing capacity. I made my way into the venue and the place was quite packed. Not only was it packed but it was mostly “younger” people and definitely a hipper and younger crowd than the one that was at Club Absinthe in Hamilton to see The Lazys two weekends ago. It helps of course that the Horseshoe Tavern is right in the heart of downtown Toronto almost at the corner of Spadina Avenue and Queen Street West. It is just a bustling hub of humanity around that area and very different than the largely deserted area surrounding Club Absinthe which is arguably kind of at the heart of downtown Hamilton as well.
I was able to catch the last few songs from The Fame‘s set. The four band members seemed quite young and really enjoying themselves on stage. How could you not playing in front of a packed audience? The group’s Facebook page indicates that the band is from Toronto, formed in 2017 and are an indie rock band formed through friends and craiglist ads. The last song played — “Wide Awake” — was a song that the singer Brandon Samuel described as the first track written by the band only one year ago. I thought that The Fame represented Canada’s diversity quite well with at least three races represented in the band with guitarist Yosuke Miyazaki and drummer Rodrigo Aguero presumably having some ties to other countries than Canada. In any case, The Fame impressed me even if their lighter fare hard rock might not be something that I would usually gravitate to. It was awesome and impressive to see so many younger people rocking away. There were even a few people in the audience in suits milling around suggesting to me that they were capping off their evening out with some rock n’ roll. Overall, The Fame put on a fun set and I would be open to seeing them open another show again in the future.
With a good chunk of people leaving to presumably get some drinks after The Fame‘s set, I was able to get to about two rows from the front of the stage. Once again, there were many younger people (presumably in their 20s) in the general admission area. At one point, a young woman wanted to get through to get closer to the stage and started pushing behind me stating “Excuse me sir.” That comment made me feel rather “old” and reminded me that I was going to be rocking out to The Lazys with a lot of people who were a couple of decades younger than me. Although I kind of think of myself as constantly being about 30 year old with a work career and family yet many of the same interests that I had when I was in my twenties, the reality is that I was not being perceived by that young woman as a 30 year old but rather as an older gentleman that should be referred to as “sir.” While I may mentally think of myself as 30 years old, from a physical perspective, that definitely is not the case. I remember playing tennis 360 days of the year when I was in my twenties without ever really getting sore. Now, when I play tennis for just 1.5 hours, I am sore for two days. Funny enough, I had played some tennis earlier in the day and had to ice one of my knees afterwards because it was hurting so much. After only standing for two hours during part of The Fame‘s set and The Lazys‘ entire set, I had to ice that same knee once I got home. How times have changed!
Before long, it was time for The Lazys to get to the stage. The last song played on the PA system was Men At Work‘s classic track “Down Under” and it was neat seeing some of The Lazys band members and in particular bassist Troy Smith and drummer Andy Nielsen dancing / rocking away to the song at the side of the stage. “Down Under” was eventually cut short and it was time for The Lazys to hit the stage. The crowd was packed in and you could feel a great atmosphere in the air. The last time that I had attended a concert at the Horseshoe Tavern dated back to Last Bullet‘s final show back in January 2018 where the atmosphere was through the roof and there truly was electricity in the air. That ended being my pick for my concert of the year.
Of note, The Lazys‘ set at Lee’s Palace in Toronto back in April 2018 was my third favorite concert from last year. Just like in Hamilton, The Lazys started off strong with “Picture Thieves,” “Howling Woman” and “Black Rebel” which had many in the audience (including myself) singing along with lead vocalist Leon Harrison. The atmosphere was awesome and the whole place (at least from the first few rows) felt like it was really rocking. Each time that the crowd cheered, it was quite deafening. Harrison seemed to be at the top of his game this time out and the rest of the band — Smith, Nielsen, lead guitarist Matty Morris and rhythm guitarist Liam Shearer — were all full of energy and really into it. Smith in particular was jumping around and covering almost the entire stage whenever he had the chance. Morris seemed to have the guitar hero thing down pat and made all sorts of grimaces and faces throughout the evening. Nielsen is a giant of a man and looks more like a tall muscular wrestler than a drummer. His smile throughout the night spoke volumes about what he was thinking. Shearer provided some good laughs whenever he spoke. I’ll get back to one of his particular comments later in this review.
Before the fourth song, Harrison advised that The Lazys were dedicating the next song to Smith‘s mother before stating it would be someone else’s mother the next time. The song in question was “Little Miss Crazy” which had the audience continuing to rock along. After that song, Harrison jokingly asked the audience if they wanted to hear another “rock n’ roll hit” before the band launched into its first single “Nothing But Trouble” from the absolutely stellar album Tropical Hazards. Next up was the first song that Canadians noticed from The Lazys as Harrison kind of put it before joking that the band had written many other songs beforehand. “Shake It Like You Mean It” was next and a good chunk of the crowd in the front was jumping around and almost everyone was seemingly singing along really loudly. I can’t remember when Harrison mentioned this but he pointed out at one point that five years ago, The Lazys had placed to only ten people at the Horseshoe Tavern at around 3:00 am. This time around, the band had sold the place out, which shows the impressive and steady rise in popularity that the band has experienced in the last five years.
Next up was the band’s latest single “Half Mast Blues.” By this time, there was one guy in the general admission area near the stage that wanted to start some sort of mosh pit but the rest of the crowd wouldn’t have it. Eventually, more and more individuals — really all younger guys and one woman — came together and a mosh pit was formed. That kind of put a bit of a damper going forward as I had to watch out not to get hit by one of the moshers during portions of the remaining songs. Although The Lazys had already played all of their video singles, the remaining six songs were just as good with the heavier “Love Your Gun” and “Punk Come N Get Me” getting a small chunk of the audience to headbang away for portions of those songs while “All Fired Up” and “Louder Than You” had the crowd singing along to the easy chorus sections. Towards the end of the evening, Morris wandered into the audience until he could find a bar level ledge to stand on to play an extended guitar solo. Harrison had some sort of big flash light that he pointed Morris‘ way. I believe during the last song, Harrison got the audience to scream after him. It was funny because at first, Harrison would scream “Hey” and the audience would scream back “Hey, hey, hey, etc.” but the singer chastised the audience pointing out that there was some lag time between his scream and the audience’s response scream. Whatever the case, he got it to work and pulled it off really well.
I had mentioned Shearer addressing the audience beforehand. Again, towards the end of the evening, Shearer looked semi-concerned and pointed out that it smelled like fire at the back of the stage. It was rather hot inside and I agreed with Shearer as I could smell a little burning smell myself. Shearer pointed out to the audience that the exit was towards the venue entrance and to “save themselves” if need be. At this point, Harrison piped in by jokingly stating that Shearer has always been the one band member concerned with rules and regulations, or something to that effect. After The Lazys finished off their set with “Can’t Kill The Truth”, the band members went off the stage and a chant of “One more song” quickly ensued. The Lazys then returned for a spirited version of “One’s Too Many” from Tropical Hazards. I thought that it was quite interesting to see the group play that song as the encore when the track wasn’t even in the band’s setlist last year. Unfortunately, the absolutely stellar track “Take Back The Town” from Tropical Hazards did not make it onto The Lazys‘ setlist once again. When I interviewed Harrison and Morris back in May 2018, I got the impression that they both didn’t like that song that much compared to the other ones on Tropical Hazards.
Overall, The Lazys blew the roof off the Horseshoe Tavern and it was probably the second best show that I have seen from them (out of eight times in the last 1.5 years). I was considering going to go see The Lazys play again in nearby Oshawa tonight (on October 19th) but I just read via Facebook that that show is now sold out! Rock n’ roll is indeed alive and in the case of The Lazys, doing really well!
The Lazys’ setlist on October 18, 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