Thanks to the arrival of summer to the UK (at last) it was a hot night in London to be doing anything other than sitting in the garden with a glass of something cold, let alone a sold-out show in a relatively small venue seeing a rock band. Unfortunately I only caught the tail end of support band ‘General’ due to shocking traffic but what I did see was pretty good and the assembled crowd seemed to agree with me and gave them a healthy round of applause at the end of their set.
The already busy venue swelled to bursting point in the lead-up to Clutch appearing, the assembled hot sardines cheering loudly as the main act took to the stage. It is always exciting going to see a band live but when it is a band you have never seen before it makes it that little bit more of a thrill. This was even more so the case with Clutch as other than liking the music I knew relatively little about them. Quite how I have managed to avoid ever seeing any live footage of them in this day and age is a mystery but it did add an air of expectation to the gig.
From the outset I was impressed with the energy that singer and frontman Neil Fallon brought to the stage, he owned it with his imposing presence and it required only an encouraging wave of the hand to have the crowd with him. This engagement was very much needed as the bassist and guitarist barely moved throughout the entire set, I don’t expect them to leap around but some movement and acknowledgement would have been nice.
This was definitely a set that was based heavily around the recent hit album Earth Rocker with 10 out of the 11 tracks featuring in the set list for the night. The opening song from the album served as the perfect opener for the night and the flurry of songs that followed didn’t allow the pace to let up for a second and drew the crowd in until everyone was singing along.
It was the fourth song of the night, DC Sound Attack!, that has stuck in my mind since the gig. By that point the atmosphere was hot, close and steamy in the venue but nobody cared as they let themselves be carried along by the rolling shuffle-groove of the song. A five song flurry served as the greatest hits section of the night as they visited their back catalogue and provided the strongest crowd participation moments, showing that Clutch fans know their stuff, not missing a lyric. There was no better example of this than the final song of the night during the encore, Electric Worry, finishing off a brilliant night in fine style and showing that Clutch, like a fine wine, are improving with age.
Full Set List:
Earth Rocker (Earth Rocker)
Unto The Breach (Earth Rocker)
Mr Freedom (Earth Rocker)
DC Sound Attack! (Earth Rocker)
Book, Saddle, & Go (Earth Rocker)
Cyborg Bette (Earth Rocker)
Crucial Velocity (Earth Rocker)
Beard (Burning Beard)
The Regulator (Blast Tyrant)
Big News 1 (Clutch)
Pure Rock Fury (Pure Rock Fury)
Subtle Hustle (Blast Tyrant)
Oh, Isabella (Earth Rocker)
Gone Cold (Earth Rocker)
The Wolf Man Kindly Requests… (Earth Rocker)
The Mob Goes Wild (Blast Tyrant)
Electric Worry (From Beale Street to Oblivion)
Photo by Thanira Rates