When Fu Manchu plays in Phoenix, Arizona, it is sort of a rarity… similar to it actually snowing on the mountains that surround the metropolis that locals refer to as the “Valley of the Sun.” So, after their recent release of their 12th full-length studio album, Clone of the Universe, I purposely fat thumbed their name into my Google Calendar the minute I found out the date the show so I wouldn’t pull another “Oh shit! I missed Fu Manchu last night!” again. Fast forward a few months later and my foresight paid off; I arrived to a sold out show at The Rebel Lounge for the first night of their U.S. 2018 “Clone of the Universe Tour.”
As I made my way through the parking lot and towards the front door, there was a sweet tricked-out blue and white van that was obviously owned by an adoring fan. As I admiringly walked past it and inside the venue, I made my way past the Fu Manchu merch table and noticed that Phoenix’s stipend had already been ransacked and decided to catch the end of Mos Generator’s set. After what was left of their stoner rock-laden set, I went up to the bar and ordered what I felt like was an appropriate beer based on my stroll through the parking lot, a “Big Blue Van.” If you’re curious about what the fuck it is, it’s a fine Arizona crafted wheat beer by College Street Brewhouse & Pub that has hints of vanilla and blueberry. Enough with the beer pimping and on with the show review.
As soon as the surfer polo and chino clad vocalist/guitarist and band co-founder Scott Hill stepped onto the cramped stage, the capacity filled lounge went nuts. Fu kicked the night off with “Eatin Dust,” which has been a staple in their set opening arsenal throughout their existence. They went on to play an array of songs that encompassed their 33-year existence to include a plethora of fan favorites such as “Weird Beard”, “Mongoose”, “Laserbl'ast”, “Hell on Wheels” and “Evil Eye”. It got pretty crazy during those fan favorites. There are no security barriers at The Rebel Lounge so the only things separating the band from the crowd is basically a 3-foot riser and some PA wedges. Because of said lack of barriers, I observed many a brewski meet their demise during those songs.
Fu Manchu ended their regular set with the eighteen-minute long “Il Mostro Atomico” from Clone of the Universe. I thought this was an odd choice to end the set with because firstly, it’s an instrumental and secondly, it’s fucking long. In addition, Alex Lifeson unfortunately was not on stage tonight to play his guest parts as he does on the recorded version. However, there was indeed an encore and Scott Hill asked the crowd what they wanted to hear. Of course, when everyone is shouting something different at the same time, all I could make out was their famous cover of the Blue Oyster Cult classic, “Godzilla”. And even though I thought this was a fine suggestion and would turn The Rebel Lounge on its head, they opted to play “King of the Road” instead. I concurred with the selection and I hope to see them again in another 4 years or less. Memo to Fu Manchu, next time please allot more merch for the Phoenix date!
Peep Fu Manchu’s “Clone of the Universe” lyric video here.