Tag Archives: 02 Academy Islington

Fu Manchu: O2 Academy Islington, London

Words by Simon Hadley.

Photo: Dead by Sunrise.

Californian desert rock veterans, Fu Manchu kicked off their two month European tour last night at Islington’s 02 Academy.

Since the release of their 1994 debut album, No One Rides For Free, Fu Manchu have gone through a number of different line-up changes including briefly recruiting ex-Kyuss drummer and now solo artist, Brant Bjork, but despite this, their live shows have always been consistent.

Kicking off with the blistering heavy fuzz classic of ‘Hell on Wheels’, beginning with Bob Balch’s throbbing guitar, that slowly morphs into a deadly thunderous roar, shows that Fu Manchu are a band on top of their game. ‘Bionic Astronautics’, the first track from their new album, Signs of Infinite Power, harks back to the bands, hardcore punk roots and a chorus  break down that echoes early 70’s era Black Sabbath.

A flurry of tracks from their new album followed as the band threw themselves into: ‘El Busta’, ‘Steel.Beast.Defeated’, ‘Webfoot Witch Hat’ and ‘Gargantuan March’, all of which were received well by the sold out crowd and hinted at a return to the glory days of the genre classics of 1996’s In Search of and 2000’s King Of The Road releases.

‘California Crossing’, the main stay of Fu Manchu’s set lists, starts with Scott Reeder’s thundering military style drumming, before vocalist Scott Hill unloads: “Twenty years or more/We had a plan/To build the finest street ride/In the whole damn land”, sparks a mass three minute sing-a-long.

Despite the mixed reception for the bands previous two releases, Start the Machine and We Must Obey, Fu Manchu’s greatness is still here. Lynchpin guitarist and front man Scott Hill’s laid back, West Coast Californian croon, Scott Reeder’s and Brad Davis’ driving rhythm section and finally Bob Balch’s thick fuzzy guitar licks make you wonder why Fu Manchu are not as big and  as well received as their Californian neighbours, Queens of the Stone Age.

Despite the emphasis being on the bands new tracks, fans were treated to a flurry of classics including: ‘Eatin’ Dust’, ‘Laserblast!’, and ‘Evil Eye’, a brilliant, psychedelic tinged hard rock classic that is arguably one of the strongest tracks the band have ever released. The 90 minute set list finished up with an eight minute, psychedelic, down tuned, doom rock onslaught of ‘Saturn III’, with vocalist Scott Hill commenting that Islington was: “Not a band way to start the tour.”