Last Bullet is a Toronto band that I have been familiar with in the past, their Love, Lust, Illusion CD a member of my aural collection, but somehow, somewhere their blip on my musical radar screen faded out. Where did I see them, or when, or who did they set the stage for are all questions that I cannot answer. But I must have liked their performance since the physical CD has joined its’ brethren in my library! The Wild! from B.C. was the shining moment during my attendance this year at The Gibson All-Star 2015 Juno Extravaganza. They were brash, crass, loud and just what The Meister likes, especially after the acts before theirs, although I have failed to thus far acquire their CD. Buckcherry, of course, needs no intro and they were excellent during my previous foray into their live experience in Toronto in 2013. So it was a split second decision when the call came in from Olivier over at Sleazeroxx to attend the event on Tuesday, November 24, 2015, at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto.
Upon arrival we quickly discerned that the rumour spreading through the lineup outside was indeed truth, The Wild! had been forced to cancel their set due to a bout of severe laryngitis. As a result, Last Bullet would be moving into the direct support slot with a longer stage time and a last minute replacement had been found. The replacement was actually an employee of concert promoter Live Nation who happened to have their guitar with them. Never hurts to be prepared I suppose, wonder if they were boy scouts?
Since I was never able to discern the name, I shall call them The Replacements for the purpose of this review. The Replacements consisted of a young lady, a guitarist and some recorded drum tracks, which was sort of a let down preferring a full band, but what did I expect recalling the circumstances that brought them to the stage right now? She clearly possessed a powerful and strong vocal box, but, unfortunately, I found the music a little mundane and depressing. I’m sure, I was mostly tainted by the recorded drum tracks and not witnessing a full band, but they also didn’t exhibit much of a stage presence either, mostly just standing there with little to no movement. Their cover of the recognisable Killers‘ song briefly perked my attention, mostly because I recognised the song, but ultimately The Replacements couldn’t hold my attention. The talent is there in both the vocalist and guitarist, but I feel they just need a little more development and a full band behind them, but good on these two for jumping into the slot and keeping the live music going!
With the hammer cocked and the firing pin poised to strike, Last Bullet fired from the shadows onto the stage like the cartridge discharged from Dirty Harry Callahan‘s .44 Magnum. Before they were halfway through their opening gunshot of “State of Confusion” I was shaking my head in wonder at how I could have allowed Last Bullet to get lost in the abyss that is my music library! A flurry of motion on stage mirrored by the crowd, many sporting Last Bullet wear, as fists were thrust high in the air and heads were thrashing up and down. The whole Phoenix Concert Theatre felt electrified the moment these guys flooded the stage! “Jet” and “Runnin’ Out Of Time” followed suit, all recognisably familiar to me from the same Love, Lust, Illusion CD already in my possession. I did also collect the first Last Bullet EP from their merch table prior to their stage time tonight. Their set continued to pound the audience into submission with only the briefest of pauses between numbers for information like “We recently did a cross Canada tour” before “Smoke and Ashes” and to introduce their latest single/video, “Sin”. “Bright Lights”, “Southern Lips” (a song about pussy we were told) and “Little Miss Filthy” took us to another Meister-known Love, Lust, Illusion track in “Forget the Rest” which saw vocalist Bryan Fontez getting the crowd involved in a little “Remember the band, forget the rest” chorus shouting to close out this high energy set. What a great show, Last Bullet will not be slipping off my radar screen again!
The tattooed, over-the-top”F-Bomb” dropping bad boys that are Buckcherry also took to the stage with a bang, opening with the song that started it all and first brought them to my attention way back in ’99 with “Lit Up” from the self-titled debut CD. The Time Bomb album supplied “Whiskey in the Morning” before it was a time warp forward to this year’s Rock n’ Roll release for “Bring It On Back”. The triple shot of popular Buckcherry tunes from their smash 15 album, “Next 2 You”, “Everything” and “Sorry” had the crowd shakin’ and the ladies dancin’. Rock n’ Roll gave us “The Madness” and “Tight Pants” with 15‘s “Sunshine” sandwiched in between. I was a bit surprised at how long it took for vocalist Josh Todd to become shirtless, displaying his tattoos and I found myself wondering if it’s a pre-requisite to be part of Buckcherry that you have to be heavily tattooed as almost any parts of skin that were showing on all members was adorned with elaborate artwork. This was exemplified as guitarist Stevie D also revealed his artwork covered upper torso by the time Buckcherry hit “Gluttony” in the setlist. Another Buckcherry pre-requisite seems to be swearing or use of the “f” word and while fully expected from Buckcherry, I feel it seems to sound a little forced and a bit unnecessary or out of place in their later efforts. “I Don’t Give a Fuck” from the EP titled Fuck, just serves to re-emphasize that feeling. The ballady “Rain’s Falling” slowed things down a little and took us through to the total smash of “Crazy Bitch” after which Todd called out “Let’s see some titties”! Sadly from my vantage point there were none on display. Buckcherry closed out the evening with “Say Fuck It” and “Too Drunk..” which appeared on some versions of what I consider to be the best Buckcherry release, Black Butterfly. Unfortunately, for me this was the only song from that album to surface in tonight’s setlist. Buckcherry exhibited an amazing stage energy and presence and sounded clean and tight musically throughout the performance. They expanded on my previous appreciation for them and did not disappoint with this full live set. They are definitely a band to be seen live, if you haven’t done so, make a note to get to the next show in your town, you’ll thank me. For those that have already experienced the live Buckcherry, you know what I mean.