I went to go see Clutch live last night, on Thursday the 24th of April 2014, at the Academy in Manchester. This is one of the gigs I’ve been most looking forward to all year (with a year being September-September as opposed to January-January).
The support act for the evening was Lionize, who I hadn’t heard before seeing them. Lionize were kind of the same as Monster Truck or Sixty Watt Shaman in that they sound really similar to Clutch but aren’t quite as magical. They’re the kind of band who I’d give a good review to, but would loose enthusiasm for and rarely listen to after that initial excitement has gone. I enjoyed them, but I wouldn’t investigate further.
I actually expected Clutch to play in the smaller Academy 2 or Club Academy venues, seeing as how they are kind of a cult band that should be bigger than they are, but it seems that with Earth Rocker they’ve caught a big wave, and are becoming as big as they deserve to be at last, as they played in the much larger Academy venue. (Neil even commented “Its nice to be in the big room.”)
They played in front of a large Earth Rocker artwork banner, and had a modest light-show, but for the most part it was the same stripped down, working-man thing they always do. I can’t imagine a band like them playing with foam cannons, confetti bombs and video screens of clothing advertisements (like Bring Me The Horizon did when I saw them at this same venue a few months ago).
How were they? Well, you don’t need me to tell you Clutch are good live. Its one of the first things you ever hear about that band. They’re great live.
Last night was no exception. They were fantastic! They played an energetic, rousing set that concentrated on their faster, heavier and more exciting material, with a big emphasis on the Blast Tyrant and Earth Rocker albums. In fact they played almost all of Earth Rocker. It kind of feels like they are fulfilling their potential. Like they’d accidentally become one of the best bands in the world while thinking they’re just some dudes at a bar, and now they realized they look like absolute fucking superstars if they play the right songs in the right order.
Neil is such a great frontman, and his gesturing and jumping up and down really conveys the stories told in the lyrics. He really throws himself into it. Even when he has a harmonica or a guitar (or in the case of ‘DC Sound Attack’ – a cowbell!) he can still bounce around like somebody excited to tour their debut record.
It was a pretty banging setlist. For the most parts you got quick punchy songs like ‘Earth Rocker,’ ‘The Mob Goes Wild,’ ‘Pure Rock Fury,’ ‘Burning Beard,’ and a very fun rendition of ‘Unto The Breach.’
They were tighter here than on some of the live albums I’ve heard, and while they still threw in additional drum fills, groove parts and jams, they were brief and trim and musical. The two slowest moments of the evening were a drum solo and a slightly out-of-place rendition of “Space Grass” to break up all the speed. The got the guy out from Lionize to play keyboards on ‘1000111010’ which was pretty damn bombastic live. (Three times is jive).
Towards the end, the threw in ‘The Soapmakers’ and ‘The Wolfman Kindly Requests…’ both of which were absolutely off the chain. Very exciting, you should’ve seen the smile on my face.
The encore featured ‘The Regulator,’ ‘Electric Worry’ and ‘One Eye Dollar.’ It was crazy how into it the crowd were. People were so excited to sing “Bang, bang, bang, Vaminos, Vaminos.”
That goes for the whole concert. The crowd were absolutely loving it. Loud, loud cheers, some of the loudest I’ve heard in these last two years of more-frequent concert attendance. Also, a lot more polite. Only one crowd-surfer the whole time. No barging and shoving. I got really close to the front and got to stand there comfortably and unmolested the whole night with no competition for space. My favourite kind of concert.
Overall, this was an absolutely brilliant concert. I had a fantastic time and the band performed a great set. I can’t imagine anyone at all walking out of that show and not having had a good time. One D-Bag was overheard to comment “Well, as far as accessible Clutch goes…” – but aside from hipsters who only want to hear B-sides, stuff from Impetus and a lot of jamming, I’d wager that 99.9% of Clutch fans would be impressed and satisfied. Its also cool that they’ve earned the right to play in such a big venue (the same one Megadeth played in). The concert was so good that I bought myself a tour T-shirt afterwards even after saying I wouldn’t at the beginning of the night… Just like what happened at Queensryche.
I hope they put out a live DVD from this tour, it will be their best live album, hands down. That’s how good it was. Go see them live if you can!