Fu Manchu / Bloodnstuff / Hey Sugar Club Soda, Montreal QC, April 16

Fu Manchu / Bloodnstuff / Hey Sugar Club Soda, Montreal QC, April 16
Photo: Susan Moss
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Never accuse Fu Manchu of not being heavy enough — one pair of earplugs would not have sufficed at last night's rendition of The Action Is Go. The SoCal stoner rock legends hit the road earlier this month to commemorate the 15th anniversary of that 1997 album, their first with ex-Kyuss drummer Brant Bjork, by playing it in its entirety from front to back. If show opener "Evil Eye" was a cautious introduction to the evening, Dave Hill and friends shook off any early restraint or uncertainty by the time they hit the propulsive title track, settling nicely into the chorus's funky bass line. Lead guitarist Bob Balch's distorted vamp on fifth song, "Guardrail," rattled the sternum and was paired well with follow-up "Anodizer," a song that should be among every head-banger's perennial favourites. When singer-guitarist Hill asked the house to turn the lights down, bathing the venue in a red haze, the several hundred dudes (and maybe 30 ladies) had already drank the Kool-Aid.

Album reissue or anniversary tours can be tricky; Queens of the Stone Age played their hand well a couple of years ago in Montreal, offering up their reissued debut to a sold-out Metropolis. But lesser-known bands like Fu Manchu, who'd pulled the same stunt last tour with In Search Of..., often end up preaching to the converted. And so, despite Club Soda's superior PA system, Fu Manchu and their audience may have been better suited at the neighbouring, and comparatively smaller, Foufounes Électriques.

Local openers Hey Sugar played an underwhelming set to a near-empty room, and while more people had filtered in for second opener Bloodnstuff, a Minneapolis duo, the floor felt a bit sparse in places. Both bands weren't matches for the lead curtain of Fu Manchu's sound — Bloodnstuff had some good riffs, but the heavy tuning on the drums and guitar really showcased a lack of instrumentation. By the time Fu Manchu wrapped up the set with closers "Saturn III" and SSD cover "Nothing Done," they'd proven their mastery of the heavy. And even if some "Godzilla"-seeking fans were left in the lurch, all was forgiven with the encore's crushing trio of "Eatin' Dust," "Weird Beard" and "King Of the Road."