London might have started baking in summer’s glory, but nothing was ever going to match the heat in Kentish Town’s Forum for this gig. Clutch are in town to promote their latest album, the highly acclaimed Earth Rocker, and a steady crowd builds from the outset for this sold out set.
Clutch have built a loyal cult following since their formation in Maryland in 1990 and the Forum is getting set to burst at the seams.
Coventry’s General get things off to a feedback infused start that launches a set full of huge stoner grooves. Fans of Kyuss need to take notice of this band. Big bass lines topped by some nicely wailing guitars set the scene for what lies ahead tonight. Grahame Stoke’s vocals prove to be the perfect accompaniment, bleeding plenty of passion into the delivery. A quick visit to the merch stand to grab their album, Where Are Your Gods Now? is required. The six song set list has plenty of attitude and power and is warmly received by the growing crowd.
The second band on the bill tonight is Sons of Icarus. Their first couple of songs have slight air of predictability but they soon hit their stride as some big riffy sounds start to lock down their set. Not Myself and You Want It All contain plenty of groove and really tasty lead guitar soloing. There’s tinges of Zep and chunky ZZ Top which form a great introduction for the headliners.
The stage for Clutch is very stripped back, which says a lot for what is in store. No mess, no fuss, just hard rock. Neil Fallon leads the band out to roars of approval. If The Forum has already become a sweat box, opener Earth Rocker only ensured things were going to get hotter. Fallon works the crowd like a witch doctor and it takes no time for him to have them all in the palm of his hand.
There is plenty of Southern swagger – each song seems like an anthem. The new album gets a big, early workout as Unto The Breach, Mr Freedom and Book, Saddle, & Co lead into an absolutely driving Crucial Velocity which has the pit working overtime. This is a lesson in how hard blues rock should be played, and also a testament to the band’s confidence – as the Earth Rocker LP forms the backbone of the entire set.
This band is such a tight unit. Fallon’s rich vocals overlay Tim Sult’s heads-down riffing as Jean-Paul Gaster and Dan Maines ensure that there is a real punch to each song. It’s all adrenaline and fist pumping rock with no fillers. The main set closes on a high with The Wolf Man Kindly Requests but there is no sign of the crowd tiring. The atmosphere is electric for the encore; The Mob Goes Wild and Electric Worry / One Eye Dollar.
Tonight’s was a commanding performance from some true masters of their craft. Delivering an album of such high quality and backing it up with such high octane gigs after more than twenty years of action leaves the fans – and myself – eagerly anticipating what will be next.