Clutch roll into Manchester armed with a killer bill of bands and a brilliant new record to show off.
With Manchester plunged into sub zero temperatures, Clutch, Green Lung and Tigercub rolled into Manchester to try and thaw the place with rock and roll of the highest order.
First up are Brighton trio, Tigercub. With a crowd growing and the lights dimmed, the trio get to work. Bassist, Jimi Wheelwright, sports a bobble hat as the band kick off. He’s not the only one keeping warm! Showcasing plenty of cuts from their most recent album, 2021’s As Blue As Indigo, the band displayed their stellar musicianship. The guitar tone is raw and the bass and drum thunders around Manchester Academy. When you’re dishing up a song entitled Stop Beating On My Heart (Like A Bassdrum), you know there is going to be emotion and ‘that’ pulse that runs through you at a live show, rattling the lungs. The Perfume Of Decay sees the band get very heavy. This is a newer song that the band suggests sees them going in a different direction.
With a sound reminiscent of early Muse mixed with a bluesy swagger and plenty of finesse, Tigercub will undoubtedly be popping up on more radars after this tour with Clutch and Green Lung. Beauty closes out Tigercub’s short turn with an extended jam to very warm applause from the gradually growing crowd. An excellent start to proceedings.
Green Lung clearly have a following in the building. It is something that has been noticeable for a good few years with the London five piece. We noticed it just a month prior during an emphatic performance at 2022’s iteration of Damnation Festival (review here).
Taking the stage to the strains of Festival from The Wicker Man soundtrack bathed in green light, the five piece strolled all stage. All in black, Green Lung unleashed an almighty summoning of Baphomet. Two albums and a stellar EP in, it is clear to see that this band are on the fast track to the top. Tom Templar exudes drama in his voice; walking the line between parody and pastiche perfectly. He is a serious force in the vocal department and drives the band forward with his magnetism.
Behind Templar is a band that display the same confidence. They bat out their demonic hymns with aplomb. Guitarist, Scott Black, lays down killer solo after killer solo, as well some dastardly heavy riffs, especially on closer, Let The Devil In. John Wright swings around his area on keys feeling every note and swirl around the stage. Every song is towering due to the work of the backline in Matt Wisemanon drums and Joseph Ghast on bass. Reaper’s Scythe flails around the audience to great applause. The Harrowing throws in the proggier influences; not to dissimilar to Opeth.
‘Manchester…are you with us?’ shouts Templar; it is a unanimous, ‘YES!’ With the band rolling into the end of their set, more crowd reaction is encouraged…’Give me a hey! Give me a hail! Give me a hail Satan!’ Simple, but wildly effective. The aforementioned Let The Devil In slays the crowd. People are singing front to back with their horns raised – it shows the following this band have and with a new deal in place with Nuclear Blast, expect to hear a lot more from Green Lung.
And so, to Clutch. Perennial masters. Veterans of the game. For anyone that knows Clutch, you know what you are going to get; 90 minutes of solid rock and roll action with a setlist that is unpredictable. Unpredictable due to the democratic format of each band member taking it in turns to pick. Jean-Paul Gaster laid out the procress in our interview with him earlier this year (read here).
On this night, this writer is unsure who picked the setlist, but by God they picked a corker! Opening with Red Alert (Boss Metal Zone) and Nosferatu Madre from this year’s Sunrise On Slaughter Beach record, Neil Fallon immediately gets to work on building his rapport with the crowd. Gesturing, pointing and acting out the songs is only one part of what makes Fallon such an irresistible force as a singer.
‘Helloooo Manchester…’ announces Fallon before a trip down memory lane with the funky Subtle Hustle and the incomparable, The Mob Goes Wild. More from Blast Tyrant is aired in the form of an extended version of Cypress Grove and the lesser aired La Curandera. Throw into the mix the brilliant Earth Rocker and a one-two punch of X-Ray Visions and Firebirds! and you have a band firmly onside with their audience, lapping up every note, chorus and riff.
At the halfway point of the set, Clutch air the title track of the new album before being joined by a special guest. Per Wiburg, of Opeth and Spiritual Beggars, takes up the keys (Wiburg also collaborated with Clutch’s Jean-Paul Gaster in 2007). This leads to a setlist geared more towards songs using the keys. Burning Beard hits hard and Sea Of Destruction is a quickfire shot in the arm. It is great to hear these songs being played with the band as a five piece.
With the band in full flow, they are relentless in their quest to rock. Tim Sult on guitar and Dan Maines on bass are unmoved onstage, but their melodies and rhythms are all the show they need. The no frills approach is to be lauded. Clutch just let the music do the talking. The Devil & Me is a welcome surprise in the set before Three Golden Hands from ‘Sunrise…’ Fallon mentions that he loves coming ‘here.’ ‘I love hanging out in the Student Union and creeping people out!’
As the sweat pours from Fallon’s face, he addresses the crowd; ‘This has been super-duper! Thanks for coming.’ Then, the familiar roll of the bass of Spacegrass kicks off the main set closer in amongst a volley of wah-wah. A mainstay of most Clutch sets, Spacegrass is a classic stoner anthem with a killer chorus and hypnotic groove. It’s slow for the most part but the way Jean-Paul Gaster helps move the pace forward towards the end is masterful.
Baying for more, the crowd are loud in their claps and chants wanting an encore. An anxious wait ensues before Clutch re-emerge and fire up Wiburg again with the organ introduction to 10001110101. Again, another smasher of a track to keep this crowd hot when it is very much needed. Anyone struggling for warmth is immediately warmed by the site of Neil Fallon strapping on his six string for the opening to Electric Worry. Manchester Academy bounces with every beat and sings every word of the bands party piece. A drum segue gives way to The Face to round out a phenomenal set that showcased a band in tip top form.
Clutch: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube
Green Lung: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Tigercub: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube
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Categories: Live Reviews
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