Whilst the last-minute shoppers of Leeds browse the Christmas Markets in Millennium Square, there is an increase in the number of bearded revellers passing through the area tonight, many of whom are sporting festive jumpers. But none of these guys are Santa Claus, St Nick or otherwise but rather heading to the nearby located O2 Academy Leeds for the venue’s last concert of the year.
Maryland rockers Clutch unveiled their impressive twelfth studio record last year. This being an album that depicts a bird of prey on the front cover, but tonight that eagle has landed in West Yorkshire as the quartet makes their eagerly anticipated return to the city.
The beauty of a Clutch show, and one of the factors that keep their fans coming back for more, is that the group switches up their setlist almost every night. So each concert in itself is a unique musical experience. Now a lot of bands would struggle to cope with such a challenging regime, but Clutch are certainly not ‘most bands’, each member of this band is at the top of their game.
Tonight Clutch does not take their foot off the pedal for one minute. Kicking off the proceedings with an impressive opening featuring Rats, Mercury and Worm Drink the group has the packed out crowd captivated from the off. Whilst the infectious sounds of both Gimme The Keys and Vision Quest are early highlights in the set.
Tonight Clutch aren’t messing about and as they hurtle their way through a career-spanning set the four pieces frequently switch gears – if you will excuse the pun. From the funk-rock sounds of The Incomparable Mr Flannery, through to the crowd-pleasing In Walks Barbarella to the Sabbath like Spirit of ’76. Clutch traverses a wide musical landscape with ease and as a result, the audience is visibly a mix of fans moshing, whilst others dance like nobody is watching.
Although there is a moment in the set where guitarist Tim Suit has a problem with his rig, Fallon takes technical advice from one witty audience member, who shouts ‘Switch it off and on again’. And before we know it we are back in business once again.
Fallon informs the crowd of shocking news coming out of the US. Now at this point, the crowd may have expected a statement about the current political climate back home, but in fact, the story on the frontman’s lips is to do with the recent announcement that Willie Nelson has given up smoking weed. This being a queue for the song itself.
Clutch turns up the funk with Subtle Hustle, before revisiting their debut album by way of the fast and furious A Shogun Named Marcus.
This evening’s show featured a smorgasbord of Scandinavian supports with both Swedish doom merchants Graveyard and blues rockers Kamchatka opening to the proceedings to great effect. And in the closing moments of Clutch’s set, the band invites Per Wiberg from the latter to feature on keys during both You Can’t Stop Progress and Mice and Gods.
As the main set reaches it’s close it’s all aboard the party train as Clutch unleashes their very own DC Sound Attack, which allows the band to spread out and gets loose. There is always room for ‘more cowbell’ and this is the moment for the said instrument to shine.
Clutch’s latest album may well be called the Book of Bad Decisions, and I’m sure we’ve all made a few throughout our lives. But tonight the writer would argue that by attending this concert that they certainly made the right choice this evening.