Clutch at The Academy, Dublin, 9th May 2014
We can probably all agree that most songs need more cowbell. Clutch manage to buck against this trend with the final song of their recent Academy gig, Electric Worry, a rare example of a song with just the correct amount.
Clutch aren’t really band to do things by halves, and so the show (and their European tour, of which this was the final show) culminates with a full on heavy metal freak out of squealing guitars, pounding drums, and epically bearded frontman Neil Fallon bashing away on a cowbell like there was no tomorrow.
And this wasn’t one of those shows where things start off slow and build gradually into release. Not when Clutch open with the boisterous hard rock party anthem that is The Mob Goes Wild. The show starts out fast and heavy and only gets louder still from there. The blues and southern rock-influenced jams come fast and hard, turned up to the point where the only response possible is to headbang with everything you’ve got.
It’s not even really necessary to describe what a song like Pure Rock Fury sounds like, the title alone is about as apt as descriptions get. What Clutch do isn’t complicated and, despite the occasional flourishes of funk and groove elements, the music is far from overly complex. But, when they do it this well, it is pure rock and its most primal and relentlessly enjoyable.
With a back catalogue of uniformly solid tracks from ten studio albums, Clutch have plenty of resources to draw on to keep the Academy rocking on, but it is new album ‘Earth Rocker’ that they draw upon most heavily for their set. The band may have been around since the early 90s, but a barrage of new tracks doesn’t leave anybody shouting, “shut up and play the hits”.
From the psychedelic and unhinged punk energy of title track Earth Rocker to mournful and blues-y Gone Cold the new material fit seamlessly among the older stuff.
Not that they don’t find time to fit in a few well-worn fan favourites too. The country and western flavoured The Regulator and spacey stoner anthem Spacegrass provided a bit of a mid-show breather, as the band moved their tempo down a notch, drifting their way through some slower moments powered by riffs that are no less ferociously reverberant for their lack of speed.
And after that it’s hammer down, full steam ahead time, culminating in a tempestuous finale of DC Sound Attack and Electric Worry. On the surface was nothing more than simplistic power plants of heavy metal noise, yet the fact that things were balanced by the more soulful addition of harmonica and slide guitar that kept Clutch rooted in the blues. It may have been loud as hell, but it was far too tight to be accused of being just noise.
Clutch aren’t a complicated band. They haven’t reinvented the wheel with their sound, but they have given it some nice shiny new chrome hubcaps.
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Photos: Shaun Neary