Clutch have just wrapped up a short run of ‘Psychic Warfare’ tour dates across the UK and Europe. Jon Stickler was in attendance at their raucous Cardiff show and here’s what he thought…
It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas when Maryland road warriors Clutch rolled into Cardiff University as part of the final stages of their 2016 Psychic Warfare tour, bringing with them their trademark bluesy jams, pummeling riffs and groove-driven hard rock.
Openers Lionize are closely affiliated with Clutch, thanks to enlisting guitarist Tim Sult for a few albums and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster producing their last LP, and their reggae-infused funky blues was a hit with the growing crowd. Valient Thorr, meanwhile, raised fists in the air with an erratic blend of hardcore and rock ‘n’ roll.
The unstoppable force that is the Clutch live show has become the stuff of legend since their formation in the early 1990s. Uniting the tribes of rock and metal through their blue-collar, no nonsense ideology, here they burst onto the stage with Passive Restraints and The House That Peterbilt, from their earlier catalogue.
That’s before rolling up their sleeves for the faster-paced Pure Rock Fury, Sucker For The Witch, from the new record, and the one-two punch of Power Player and You Can’t Stop Progress from ‘From Beale Street to Oblivion’.
A wild-eyed Neil Fallon was up to his usual tricks and, as one of rock’s most animated lyricists, he kept the stage banter to nothing more than the expected pleasantries while throwing some of the wildest shapes around. Guitarist Sult laid down riff after riff alongside spellbinding energy and precision from bassist Dan Maines and drummer Gaster.
The set was top heavy with cuts from ‘Psychic Warfare’, with A Quick Death In Texas, Your Love Is Incarceration and Decapitation Blues also thrown in alongside The Face, from ‘Earth Rocker’, Minotaur and 50,000 Unstoppable Watts from 2009’s ‘Strange Cousins from the West’, plus cuts from the earlier ‘Robot Hive/Exodus’. A slow-burning The Regulator wound up the main set before the band tore through an encore featuring Electric Worry and X-Ray Vision.
While existing just outside of the mainstream for, astonishingly, over 25 years, Clutch remain one of a few bands who consistently capture the essence of rock in its most natural form. No need for pyrotechnics, big screens, laser shows, or even a drum riser, just four masters at work.