Due to issues out of our control we were unfortunately not able to make it inside in time to catch either TIGERCUB or GREEN LUNG. But what we could glean from the few snippets we caught from outside and asking around later on it seems we missed a very solid couple of sets. There was some particularly high praise for Green Lung from many in attendance, this following on from the hype surrounding their latest Manchester appearance at Damnation Festival back in November puts them firmly on my list to check out next year.
But finally any snags are sorted and we’re in! And what better way to shake off the chilly December air than a good ol’ shot of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
This was personally my first time getting to experience CLUTCH in a live setting, and I’ll be honest I’d heard some pretty major praise going into this so my expectations were certainly raised. It’s safe to say however that those expectations were unquestioningly exceeded with the group clearly firing on all cylinders.
With a seemingly no muss no fuss attitude to stage set up we have the body of the band made up by guitarists Tim Sult and Dan Maines flanking Jean-Paul Gaster on drums towards the rear of the stage. It could be said that the trio don’t cut much of a presence on stage physically, but I’d argue when you’re throwing out grooves as infectious as that then I reckon you can let the music do the work.
A benefit of this set up though is that there is left a nice open space for frontman Neil Fallon to work his particular magic. The roaming back and forth across stage and expressive gesticulating lends a magnetic air of a preacher like figure evangelising the gospel of Rock and Roll to the audience. And not to mention the incredible vocals which translate fantastically into a live setting.
The group is also joined part way through the set by Per Wiberg (formely of Opeth) on keys.
The band’s singular approach to set list construction, that being a newly curated arrangement of songs each night, lends a welcome spontaneity to proceedings and with a band that has been on the circuit as long as Clutch have its refreshing to a see an audience still react with genuine excitement and surprise at what song gets played next.
Of course we are treated to some choice selections from the band’s fantastic new album SUNRISE ON SLAUGHTER BEACH, in particular the double whammy of RED ALERT (BOSS METAL ZONE) and NOSFERATU MADRE which kicks off the night. There is also a healthy emphasis on 2004’s BLAST TYRANT with tracks such as THE MOB GOES WILD and SUBTLE HUSTLE really getting people busting out some serious dance moves.
It was a pleasant surprise to hear BURNING BEARD get played as this song was my orginal introduction to the band. 10001110101 from the same album starts tonight’s round of eagerly awaited encores followed up by Fallon donning a guitar of his own for the inimitable earworm ELECTRIC WORRY. And the night of raucous fun is brought to a driving finale with last track THE FACE. All in all a top tier showing.
All images by William Mawdsley | Instagram