Sat 5th December 2009
Support from Kylesa, Kamchatka
Kamchatka and Kylesa nobly entertained the crowd between 7 and 9 but folks bought their tickets tonight for one band and one band alone. Despite not investing much in publicity and having next to no radio airplay Clutch have garnered a strong following in the underground heavy rock scene. This was in evidence as the crowd swelled to capacity.
Like a large proportion of the fans, Clutch have very short hair for ones so heavy. All four of them look like coach drivers. The kind of coach driver who looks dour but when you get talking to them they turn out to have a heart of gold. We've paid our money... Where are we going? Clutch have rolled in to town to transport us away from a grey North London for an hour and a half. Allow me to drag out this lazy metaphor a second longer. They emerge from the darkness and immediately step on the gas, driving their hard, uncomplicated rock into our collective face. Hold tight.
At once evocative and cryptic, vocalist Neil Fallon is obviously 'a reader' and he delivers an enlightened sermon. He has come here to testify and the crowd downstairs can't get enough. Myth and legend echo through his twisted tales from across the pond. He muses our broken world of corrupt politicians and mass murderers, of divisive religions, personal struggles and bitter conflict.
As for the music the band are as tight as ever, cherry picking tracks from their now extensive back catalogue. Elephant Riders, Spacegrass and Burning Beard among others pack a punch to blow your brains out.
The set's high water mark came during a colossal rendition of the haunting 'Regulator' from 2004's 'Blast Tyrant'.
.....claustrophobic mists close in around a Louisiana swamp........cold, undead fingers crack as they tighten around the barrel of a shotgun......haunted by ghosts of mistakes past....the air is still but the mist rolls in.....
Influenced not only by the classic rock, metal and punk of the last 40 years but also hip hop and drawing directly from the blues (see: Mississippi Fred McDowell's Electric Worry) Clutch have reconciled a gamut of twentieth century musical styles into a fire spitting, gut punching yet often cerebral hybrid. They are truly a rock band for the new millennium.