Due to an unusually long absence from the UK and a massively anticipated new album in the can this is THE hottest ticket in town tonight. The place is swarming with touts, there are ‘Sold out’ signs all over the shop and those in possession of a ticket are eagerly clutching (no pun intended) them to their person and grinning from ear to ear.
That’s because Clutch have stealthily crept closer and closer into Rock fans consciousness with a string of brilliantly eclectic albums and bafflingly stunning live performances over the last two decades, and now it seems they are finally poised to join the big league.
First though, Hark nearly snap the venue in half with a set of overwhelming Sludge-Metal. You could be forgiven for just giggling to yourself due to their singer’s physical resemblance to Chad Kroger from Nickelback If their sound didn’t make you wince so much. If you can imagine the Hardcore of American Nightmare played through the filter of High On Fire’s junk sick riffs then this is what you might get. They do a nice line in visuals as well, bringing trippy projections along with them to make a masterful head fuck of the senses. Well worth keeping an eye on.
Everybody is here for one thing and one thing alone tonight though, and it’s Clutch’s unique and fearless take on Rock and Roll. They wander on to a hysterical ovation as if they’ve just popped down the corner shop for some milk, plug in and bomb straight into ‘Pure Rock Fury’ and ’50,000 Unstoppable Watts’. Never have song titles seemed so apt for a band, as Koko shakes and gyrates to the bands every whim.
They play three new songs and each one sound like a winner, especially ‘Earth Rocker’s title track, which much of the crowd is already familiar with, a full throttle belter that sounds like it could have been lifted from the soundtrack to a Zombie B-Movie and beaten up by guitars. Of the other two newbies ‘Maximum Velocity’ sounds like the name suggests and ‘The Wolfman Cometh’ is a slightly more restrained bluesy jam.
With a bulletproof back catalogue it’s hardly surprising that every opening riff or drum pattern is greeted like the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve, but the realisation that there are twenty songs that they DIDN’T play that you would have loved to have heard is evidence that Clutch are in a position that only a select few bands can compete with. Taking this into account means it’s hard to pick highlights but, from the rarely heard such as ‘Elephant Riders’ to the anthemic ‘Mob Goes Wild’ and ‘Shogun Named Marcus’, nothing quite matches the show stealing ‘Electric Worry’. Its simplicity belies its uniqueness, which sums Clutch up perfectly. They play simple Hard Rock like no one else can. It’s Jean Paul Gaster’s perfect syncopation whilst channelling the spirit of Buddy Rich, it’s Tim Sult playing the blues but making his guitar sound like nothing else on Earth, it’s in Neil Fallon a man in jeans and a plain T-Shirt who can command and beguile a sold out venue with a sweep of his arm and a release of his incredible voice.
Clutch will be back soon. By then ‘Earth Rocker’ will be out and, if you’ve any love for Rock music, you’ll be in love with them. Assuming you aren’t already of course.
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