Gig review – DANKO JONES with THE LAZYS at Venue in Vancouver – April 18, 2015

This particular night of rock’n’roll got off to quite an early start at Vancouver club Venue on Granville Street. Australian openers The Lazys hit the stage just after 8 pm, but happily there was already quite a crowd bustling around in front of the stage and at the various bars and tables. Good thing too, because The Lazys immediately proceeded to rip the top off a big can of musical whup-ass.

TheLazys

The Lazys caught my ear with their self-titled album last year, and I was majorly excited to see them live. After causing a stir at Canadian Music Week in Toronto, the band toured extensively across Canada in 2014. They headed home to Oz for a bit, but now they’re back on another Canadian tour, and judging by what I saw in Vancouver, they have quite a lot of local fans who are very happy to see them. Cranking up the noise at Venue, the band blasted the crowd with a rock-solid, hard and heavy rocking set that started off with the catchy and riff-powered “Show Me What You’re Made Of”.

That opener set the tone for a confident and impressive set that included a raft of great tracks from the band, including “All Fired Up”, “Punk Come ‘N Get Me”, and of course their irresistible, hipshaking hit “Shake It Like You Mean It”.

Brandishing a whole lot of skill, talent, and swagger, The Lazys demonstrated that they know how to get a crowd going: that’s certainly a must for any band, but it can be a hard task when you’re the opening act, and hitting the stage so early. The band didn’t seem intimidated by the circumstances, though. Singer Leon Harrison showed off his great pipes, and the rest of the band was all fired up behind him: Glenn Williams on bass, Liam Shearer on guitar, and Jay Braslin on drums were loud, crackling with energy and full of hard-rocking swagger.

Lead guitarist Matt Morris definitely made a huge impression as well. His stage presence and off-the-wall energy might best be described as what it would be like if the muppet Animal had taken up the electric guitar rather than the drums. Morris was a head-banging, guitar-wielding, riff-ripping wielder of mayhem, bouncing around the stage like a mad thing while playing some excellent guitar. He even ventured off stage for some extended solo action, playing on an impromptu stage/couch area in the middle of the floor. It’s the kind of thing that gets a crowd going, and makes them remember your band at the end of the night.

The Lazys definitely has the goods: their album kicks some serious butt, and they can certainly deliver on stage. These guys have the rock’n’roll muscle, the attitude, and the talent (not to mention the hair!) to really go places. I definitely recommend checking them out on their continued cross-Canada trek. Judging by the amount of LPs, CDs, and T-shirts that were flying off the merch table, I think these guys picked up more than a few new fans on Saturday.

Next up was the main event: Danko Jones. And holy cow, did they bring it! The crowd was pumped and ready for action, and the very first riff was like lighting the fuse, as frontman, vocalist, and guitarist Danko Jones appeared on stage with bass player John Calabrese at his side, and drummer Rich Knox behind the kit.

danko-jones-band

I’m no stranger to Danko Jones’ music, but I’ve never seen the band live before and it was a definite rush. There are some performers who just have that awesome, undeniable, powerful stage presence that makes it almost impossible to look at anything else when they’re on stage, and Danko Jones certainly fits into that category. I don’t know how tall he is off stage, but on stage, the man is about 10 feet tall and just radiating charisma.

The band lived up to and exceeded all my expectations. They were tight as hell, loud enough to rattle your bones to the marrow, and rocking flat-out as they blazed through some fantastic versions of both old and new hits. Several tracks off the band’s latest release Fire Music were included in the set, and the appreciative audience certainly didn’t mind that. The floor was packed and the crowd was on: just the way it should be.

Danko Jones opened with the rip-roaring “Who Got It”, and from that point on, it was nothing but pedal to the metal, balls to the wall. Tracks like “Do You Wanna Rock”, “First Date”, “Code of the Road”, “Legs”, “The Twisting Knife”, and “Gonna Be A Fight Tonight” had the audience roaring, dancing, singing, screaming, and chanting “Danko! Danko!” (the best song of the night according to Danko Jones himself).

This is a band that puts on a real show, without using any kind of giant inflatables or massive pyrotechnics. It’s all about the band, the music, and Danko: Danko hammering down the riffs and belting out those tunes, and seemingly enjoying every moment on stage. And the man is certainly a master of stage banter: he had the Vancouver crowd in the palm of his hand, praising Vancouver, slamming Toronto a bit (that’ll always get you some cheers in this town!), preaching about real rock and roll fans, railing against bands that split up and reunite and then charge an arm and a leg for tickets, and poking fun at the wrongness of having rock bands play early so that club goers can dance to “syncopated beats” afterwards.

When the band was called in for an encore that included the epic track “Bring On The Mountain (Become The Mountain)” , the banter was more like a hard-rock sermon: about being who you are, being who you want to be, no matter what the obstacles or what the haters, or your detractors say: “This heart gets stronger, this skin gets thicker, this mouth gets louder”, indeed.

If Canada has a rock’n’roll preacher, Danko Jones is it. This gig was no bull, no pretense, no artsy fartsy crap, just straight up, 100 proof ROCK from beginning to end. And while it might have been my first time at a Danko Jones’ gig, I don’t think it will be the last.

All in all, it was a great night of rock and roll at Venue. If you live anywhere near where either of these two acts show up next, catch ‘em on stage for a very, very good time.

Other notes from the night:

20150418_181218
Beautiful drink at Pourhouse.
  • Thanks to Pourhouse for getting my night off to a great start: nothing like some great service, good food, and fabulous, classy drinks to get me in the mood for rock’n’roll. And no, this is not a paid advertisement, but you should still head down to Gastown and check them out if you’re in the neighbourhood.
  • Def Leppard played Rogers Arena on the same night, with the fantastic One Bad Son opening for them: that must have been quite a gig. The huge crowd from the arena that squeezed onto the Skytrain at Stadium station when I was heading home, seemed pretty laidback and happy (if somewhat tipsy).
  • Dear Starbucks, that’s the last time I’m getting a cake-pop that isn’t chocolate. Bland vanilla with pink icing just does NOT cut it.

The Lazys’ official website / Facebook / Twitter

Danko Jones official website/ Facebook / Twitter

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