By: Adam Harrison -
While most rock songs used to be about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, that motto faded away when the iGeneration invaded. While the glamour of the Mötley Crüe lifestyle has long since evaporated, Los Angeles-based Buckcherry continue to place it on a pedestal and on Saturday night at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto, they showed us that that lifestyle has yet to vanish.
Opening the night were UK hard rockers, Heaven’s Basement, who’ve built up a reputation for their high-energy shows by touring with heavy hitters such as Bon Jovi, Shinedown and Papa Roach. Despite the band member’s youthful appearance, they put on a show that remind you what rock concerts used to be like – big sound, whipping hair and airy vocals. The band sounded very tight and singer Aaron Buchanan was right on key, despite being terribly sick. In fact, during one song, lead guitarist, Sid Glover, had to take over on vocals while Buchanan threw up into a bucket at the side of the stage. Now that’s rock ‘n’ roll people! We were treated to songs such as “Fire, Fire” and “Nothing Left to Lose,” but their set was cut short on account of Buchanan’s illness, which was unfortunate because the crowd was definitely eager for more. Keep an eye out for Heaven’s Basement’s debut LP, Filthy Empire, which will be released on February 4.
Left with surprisingly big shoes to fill, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan natives One Bad Son followed. With a very cool pile up of old static televisions on stage, these prairie dogs continued the hard rock theme of the night. Although full of energy, One Bad Son lacked the originality that Heaven’s Basement brought to the table and instead resembled a high school band that sounded identical to Australia’s Airbourne. But One Bad Son are no beginners, they’ve got three albums and nine years worth of history together and now they have a single, “Scarecrows,” which is being played across Ontario. “Retribution Blues” was another song that stood out in their set, but the highlight was a closing cover of The Who classic, “Baba O’Riley.”
Buckcherry first came on the scene in 1995, but didn’t capture mainstream success until after a three year hiatus and lineup adjustment ten years later. When they released their hit album, 15, they landed gigs with genre giants like KISS and Mötley Crüe as well as their own headlining shows. They were able to stretch out that success with Black Butterfly two years later, but fell short in 2010 with All Night Long. Buckcherry will attempt to regain some of that popularity next month with the release of their sixth album, Confessions, a concept album about the seven deadly sins, something Buckcherry is definitely familiar with.
The band wasted little time during their set as they launched into “Ridin’” from their 2001 album Time Bomb, which was the last album to feature the band’s original line-up, followed by fan favourite “Rescue Me,“ from their 2008 album Black Butterfly. “All Night Long,” “Everything” and “Sorry,” Buckcherry’s most well-known ballad and commercially, their most successful song, came in the first half of their set.
Although they’ve downsized venues over the years, Buckcherry can still draw a crowd. What makes them especially appealing live is their singer, Josh Todd, who is easily one of the most appealing front men in the business. Todd’s stature and heavily tattooed appearance along with his stage energy and dance moves are undeniably mesmerizing. Although it seemed to take Todd a little while to get things going, it wasn’t until half way through the set (and when his shirt came off) during the song “It’s a Party” that he really broke free.
Perhaps the highest energy from both band and audience came during “Lit Up” from their self-titled debut album. Mid-way through the song, Todd told a story about him going down to Tijuana, Mexico to do some under-age boozing and being caught with cocaine by Federales.
Even though they’re getting older, Buckcherry are still sexual fanatics. Todd spoke about how you can tell someone has soul by how they take off their panties. He also masturbated the microphone several times throughout the night. But what would you expect from a band whose greatest hit is titled “Crazy Bitch,” which has become their anthem and was the closing song for their main set.
The encore was disappointing, as they had already crossed off their best songs during the main set. They returned with “Bliss” and closed the 75-minute set with “Onset.”
It’s possible that all of the substances we hear about in their songs have taken a toll on them over the years, but Buckcherry are still worth checking off the concert bucket list. While their larger than life persona and rock star mentality may have benefitted them at their peak, it’s questionable as to whether it will be enough to keep fans interested through their next album cycle.