Fu Manchu – Still Kings of the Road!

Scratch Acid may have been the hipper choice, but I headed to the Horseshoe last nite to catch quintessential stoner rockers Fu Manchu, touring in support of a new vinyl reissue of In Search Of…  There seemed to be quite a few aging, balding pudgy rockers on hand–the place was pretty packed!

Although there weren’t any local openers, the Fu had some solid touring support in the form of Texans Honky and their fellow Californians in The Shrine.  The latter took the stage with a tune that showed they’d spent some time studying at the Fu Manchu School of Stoner Rock, though they provided more up-tempo garage punk fare for the most part.  Still, it’s safe to say they fit right in…

Honky was nothing short of hilarious, a raunchy, rollicking good time.  Picture a stripped-down version of White Cowbell Oklahoma, sans chainsaw, and you’ve sorta got the idea.  Three wise-cracking, tattooed Texas hillbillies complete with ZZ Top beards and cowboy hats, playing tunes with titles like “Snortin’ Whiskey and Drinkin’ Cocaine” and “Smokin’ Weed with Helios Creed.”  These guys would go over like gangbusters in Calgary–and I say this as a native Calgarian. 😉

As for the Fu, well, I gotta say they went over pretty well, too.  The band took a decidedly retro approach to the evening, with Scott Hill still sporting his Kurt Cobain Halloween costume, and exuding more energy than one would expect from such a seminal stoner rock singer.  (Perhaps he was channeling his teenage past in Virulence?)  The other Scott Reeder rocked out with his porn stache behind the kit, with Brad Davis holding down the rhythms and Bob Balch wailing on most of the leads.  (It was interesting to see how little guitar Hill actually played while doing his best Iggy Pop impression…)

After opening with a few solid tunes from the turn of the century (“Hell on Wheels,” “California Crossing,” “Boogie Van”), Hill then announced that they would be playing In Search Of…, which they did, from start to finish.  I gotta say, it was pretty cool to hear tunes like “Regal Beagle,” “Solid Hex” and “The Falcon Has Landed,” which they probably haven’t done live in a little while.  I mean, this record’s so old that it had Ruben Romano and Eddie Glass on it, and a kid born the day it came out would be taking their driver’s license test in a coupla months.  But still, some tunes are timeless, y’know?

Of course, Bob Balch didn’t join till Eddie left, and they’ve been through a couple drummers (read: Brant Bjork) since then, but I’d say the replacements filled in admirably.  If anything, the guitar tones on stage seemed a bit different from the record, and Scott Hill’s voice was more screechy than his laid-back drawl of yore, but what they lacked in picture-perfect perfection, they made up for in energy and intensity.

After the final notes of “Supershooter,” they left the stage, then came back for an encore, where Hill asked for requests, ignoring my cry for “Weird Beard” that actually busted a gut (yes, I am a fat fuck), though they did end with “King of the Road,” so I wasn’t too disappointed.

Man, I dunno how I do it (showing up early helps), but I always seem to find my way right to the front of the stage at the Horseshoe while all hell breaks loose behind me.  This time, I actually brought my camera.  You can check out most of my pics on Gruesome Views, but here are a coupla bonus shots for ya…



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Seahawks/Stamps/Flames/Zags/Jays/Raptors fan and lifelong metal head with a beer gut and a self-deprecating sense of humour. Reviewer/blogger (Yon Senior Doomsayer) for Hellbound.ca.