Clutch live at The Forum (11 July '13, London) // Words: Simon Opie
So how many bands are in their 23rd year and release a 10th Studio album that is good enough to be played almost in its entirety in their live set. That’s right, just one – Clutch. The band headlined a sold-out Kentish Town Forum on Thursday night – in itself a welcome event since most of their recent gigs in London have been in support or festival appearances.
A hot, enthusiastic crowd enjoyed a truly great set anchored by material from the recent and excellent new album 'Earth Rocker'. From the moment the terrific title track launched the show, the needle went into the red for both performers and spectators and it didn’t relent until the encore brought proceedings to a close some ninety minutes later.
Clutch are unquestionably accomplished musicians - Jean-Paul Gaster is a virtuoso and much sought after drummer, and his explorations of percussive form and tempo are at the core of all Clutch songs. Dan Maines handles the bass, alternating between echoing lead guitar lines and rumbling along the intricate rhythmical pathways of the songs. Tim Sult, in familiar head-down pose, cracks out the riffs, steams the solos and stitches the music together. Then there’s Neil Fallon, the most awkward and diffident of frontmen, pushing out the lyrics, captivating the crowd and powering through the often bizarre stories that underpin all Clutch songs.
Ably assisted by Sons Of Icarus (despite the traditional abysmally poor sound for support bands), Clutch were surrounded by their most committed fans and there was a sense that this was going to be a special night. It did not disappoint.
Highlights from Clutch's new album included 'D.C. Sound Attack!', 'Crucial Velocity' and 'Oh Isabella', and mixed in were songs from 2001's 'Pure Rock Fury' and 2004's 'Blast Tyrant', their classic-status albums, and other less explored corners of the Clutch back catalogue. Their rendition of 'The Regulator' proved, if it were needed, that at their best Clutch are simply untouchable.
In my opinion this gig was absolutely what rock and roll (a much overused and misused term) is really about - great live performers, backed by a huge number of brilliantly quirky songs and at the top of their game. Clutch gave a masterclass in how to endure in music without losing inventiveness or enthusiasm and as we poured out into the sticky Kentish Town air, I could only hope they’d be doing it all over again sometime soon and for many years to come.
Find more info at pro-rock.com.