Live Review: Fu Manchu - Cherry Rock

30 April 2012 | 4:22 pm | Bryget Chrisfield

So a nude member of Bitter Sweet Kicks walks into a bar... how else can you upstage Fu Manchu?

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The lane named after Australian rock'n'roll royalty is packed and it's a struggle to locate Cherry Bar's entrance as Even artfully lay down the jams. Cutting through the venue and out the back for a side-of-mainstage viewpoint proves a win and it sounds aight from here, too. A neighbouring dude sports a denim jacket with three sew-on patches decorating the back – Slayer, Black Sabbath and Kiss. “We're getting loose in a Woodstock 1969 kind of way,” frontman Ash Naylor assures. If you met Wally Kempton in the pub, you would never dream he could play an instrument, even if he stubbornly claimed to. But, man, can he! A mighty fine bassist. Naylor says he is often approached at places like Woolies where people ask in a surprised fashion, “Are Even still together?” They sure are and put on a cracking show. Rock And Roll Save My Life is a highlight and it's baffling to many that Even aren't megastars. A fan explaining he's “from the country” approaches Naylor after the set and gushes, “I love you, man! I watch you on RocKwiz all the time!”

“I'd take a bullet for this band,” is how our master of ceremonies James Young introduces The Ramshackle Army. Young has outdone himself, resplendent in an aquamarine onesie, white belt and cowboy hat. Some who recently caught Dropkick Murphys at Festival Hall reckon these guys are a poor relation. It's not bad, but we kinda feel like we're in Bridie O'Reilly's. The best part of their set is when the Bitter Sweet Kicks dude wanders past naked, obscuring his package by a low-slung axe. A procession follows said nude muso into Cherry Bar way too early for showtime. Johnny Kicks is the lone starkers figure onstage. He has “Jerry Cola” tattooed on his arse, obviously hasn't exercised a single day of his life and is totally owning the result. Eventually, the rest of the band members wander out and frontman Jack Davies makes gestures suggesting he would like to be fed a random's cider. The targeted punter happily obliges by gently tipping some pear nectar down Davies' gullet. As well as playing mean harmonica, Davies pogos like ET on a trampette. His influences: Mick Jagger much? If Kicks got naked in an attempt to pull focus from his bandleader, it doesn't work. The frontman performs like a horny puppy, bound to soon transform into a Michael Hutchence-esque stallion. Anyone brave enough to lie on the Cherry stage clearly has rock'n'roll running through his veins. Various band members wander through the crowd as far as their leads will allow. Can't wait to catch Bitter Sweet Kicks again pronto!

Some little rock'n'rollers (who turn out to be members of Vice Grip Pussies) strut around as if they own the joint and many revellers stop them in transit for high-fives and to pass on congratulations. It's back outside for Black Cobra. The only other suitable band name for this San Franciscan two-piece would be Polycephaly Tsunami. Approach with caution: this is music for badasses. The musicians display a mutual understanding of rhythm usually only found in conjoined twins. This display of technical virtuosity gets the crowd lurching wildly and these power lords prove competition for our very own debilitating duo, DZ Deathrays.

Welcoming Fu Manchu (“the godfathers of fuzz”) to the outdoor stage, Young tells us he broke a golden festival rule when booking his favourite band. When drummer Scott Reeder employs vocoder that channels the creepy “have you checked the children?” voice from When A Stranger Calls, we're aghast. “This song's called Eatin' Dust,” announces frontman Scott Hill and Fu Manchu's dirty riffs melt faces. Hung Out To Dry is synapse-altering goodness and also an ideal encore gee-up with its repetitive “One more time” chorus lyrics. They play a new song with pared-back verses and stacks-on choruses called Neptune's Convey, which is some visual if you call one up in your brain box. It's as if Fu Manchu's instruments emit electric currents destined only for interested ears. And the AC/DC Lane massive are spent.

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Having observed the vacant lot directly behind where Cherry Rock's mainstage is erected, we try to imagine what the view will look like once 108 Flinders (189 new apartments) is built. Then we discuss applying for one: what better place to live than stumbling distance from Cherry Bar?