With a mammoth US tour alongside Helmet Already under their belts, as well as a stint across the pond in Europe. Stoner rock royalty, Clutch are back on English shores once again. Bringing their Sunrise on Slaughter Beach tour to a close with a handful of extra UK dates.
Despite the mercury plunging well below zero outside, there are more than enough diehard fans waiting for them at O2 Academy here tonight too. So many in fact, that the atmosphere in the room alone shakes off the chill in seconds once we get inside. There’s already an underlying thrum of excitement running through the audience and support act, Green Lung are taking full advantage of it as we get inside out of the cold. With their riff heavy, doom laden sound clearly winning them a few new fans judging by the size of the huddle beginning to gather at the merch stand as they finish off their set.
A quick sound check later and the familiar sound of We Need Some Money by Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers begins to ring out around the room, ramping up the excitement even more. With the crowd exploding into life as the house lights dim and Neil Fallon and Co. take to the stage, kicking immediately into new track Red Alert (Boss Metal Zone).
If the months spent on the road in support of Sunrise on Slaughter Beach have taken a toll on the band it doesn’t show at all either, as they thunder straight into follow up track Nosferatu Madre. Sounding as tight and as impressive as ever. With drummer Jean-Paul Gaster throwing a few extra subtle fills in here and there just for good measure.
The one two punch of new material is well received, but it’s the bands third track, The Mob Goes Wild that really lifts the roof off in the early going. Putting the crowd firmly in the palm of Fallon’s capable hands as he prowls the stage. Sermonising to the eager masses on the front row as they go every bit as wild as the song suggests. Without missing a beat the band then slip seamlessly back in time for a double bill of X-Ray Visions and Firebirds from the album Psychic Warfare. The transition between each of which is so seamless that you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d written them as a medley in the very beginning.
The deliberate stomping rhythm of Slaughter Beach helps bring things down a notch, but by now the brakes are well and truly off. Even the band themselves seem to be feeding off the energy in the room, with the tempo of each song creeping up and up ever so slightly after each raucous ovation. With three decades of material to choose from, Clutch aren’t short of a few bangers to keep the action going either. Dropping hit after hit, with guitarist Tim Sult hunched over his Gibson SG, effortlessly motoring up and down the fretboard despite the now Ramones like tempo of every track.
With the audience now at fever pitch, former bandmate and Opeth alumni Per Wiberg makes a welcome return on the keys. Giving Clutch the chance to delve even deeper into their back catalogue, pulling out some real gems like Power Player and The Devil & Me. The latter of which hasn’t been heard live in over a decade, yet sounds so natural you’d be forgiven for thinking it had never left their setlist in the first place.
The crowd are so captivated by the time things come to an end, that it takes a moment for them to register that the band are leaving the stage. The chants for one more song don’t take long to break out though and soon enough they return for a well earned encore, starting with a stunning rendition of fan favourite, 10001110101.
There’s no frills here and no prisoners taken, just an undeniable groove, a little soul and a lot of rock and roll. The crowd are loving every minute too. Bouncing off the walls as the band bring their set to a suitably epic conclusion with Electric Worry and then finally, The Face. Once again proving that they’re a force to be reckoned with on any live stage!
Photos captured by Daniel Akerley-Holmes at Rock City, Nottingham. Check out more photos in the gallery below.