It’s not often that Scotland gets a name like Clutch performing in the capital city, as most tours tend to favour Glasgow over Edinburgh. It is far less often that a band chooses to perform in both cities and almost unheard of that they manage to sell out both cities, both in decent sized venues. This seems to be the proof that after twenty-one years since Clutch first appeared on the scene, they have moved on from their original cult following and now appeal to a more diverse audience. Incredibly doing this without losing respect from original fans, no mean feat once a band suddenly becomes more popular.
As Clutch enter the final leg of their worldwide tour promoting latest album, ‘Earth Rocker’, they are joined by fellow Maryland rock outfit, Lionize. If this is a new name to you, they are of a similar musical vein to Clutch, but with more of a funky, blues flavour. They have quite an eclectic sound about them, but still went down extremely well with the Edinburgh crowd. Front man Nate Bergman held the crowd’s attention with vocals which were a perfect mix of rock and soul, while Chris Brooks on synth added a nice dimension to the overall sound… we would hear more from him later in the evening. A highlight of the set came with the reggae infused ‘Sea of Tranquility’ which created a chilled out atmosphere in amongst what was fast becoming the sweatiest crowd I have seen in a while. This tour has seen Lionize’s first appearances in the UK, but after the reception they received tonight, I’m sure it won’t be their last.
Clutch took to the stage with opening track, ‘Gravel Road’, an older track from their 2005 album Robot Hive/Exodus and a perfect upbeat number to get the crowd singing and moving along with front man Neil Fallon. The set was a perfect mixture of new material from ‘Earth Rocker’, but whilst not forgetting some of their best tracks from older albums, such as the ever catchy ‘10001110101’ and ‘The Mob Goes Wild’. Of course with such an extensive back catalogue to choose from, they are never going to please everyone, however they gave it a damn good shot with little time wasted on stage as they jump from hit to hit.
The fact that the crowd were singing along just as loud for their new material is a real testament to just how popular these guys have become… in fact the only time during the whole set when an almost hush came across the venue was for the acoustic ‘Gone Cold’. At a first glance, it almost looked like the crowd had lost interest with the change of pace, however as soon as they kicked things up a notch again with ‘The Face’, it becomes clear the crowd just had a much needed breather and were now ready to rock again.
When it comes to Neil Fallon on vocals, not enough praise can be given for his performance. His stage persona is second to none as he prowls the stage like a man possessed, engaging with all areas of the crowd periodically. His voice is flawless and his energy onstage is consistently impressive for a man who has been on tour for so long. He is so good in fact it makes it easy to forget the rest of the band are there, as throughout the set they barely move and instead let the music speak for itself. The band consisting of Jean-Paul Gaster on drums, Dan Maines on bass and Tim Suit on guitar are an absolute credit to the music they create. Although their stage presence is not on the same level as Fallon’s, the band function as an incredibly tight machine and when they were left alone on stage at the end of the set after Fallon’s departure, they were much deserving of the rapturous applause they also received. Clutch finished their set with an encore consisting of two new tracks, ‘Unto The Breach’ and ‘D.C. Sound Attack’, which shows feel faith by the band in their new material, before finishing of what had been a fantastic night with the classic ‘50,000 Unstoppable Watts’. Clutch are a band who are an absolute must see live, although good on record, it is nothing in comparison to seeing Neil Fallon working a stage in the flesh.