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LIVE REVIEW: Clutch @ Manchester Academy

Ending their UK section of the Psychic Warfare tour, CLUTCH blasted into Manchester with support from VALIENT THORR and LIONIZE.  We witnessed the show to see how the trio of hard-rock acts fared on their last show in Britain.

Lionize live @ Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography

Fellow label-mates with CLUTCH, LIONIZE kick off the show with incredible finesse. Frontman Nate Bergman displays passion and professionalism in every note while performing. Delivering cracking solos, Nate is a real driving force in the band, including everyone else on stage in everything he does. Keyboardist Chris Brooks delivers consistently throughout the set, as does bassist Hank Upton, and drummer Chase Lapp gives cracking beats to the rock and reggae inspired quartet. A guest appearance from CLUTCH guitarist Tim Sult made for an extra layer of groove to some of LIONIZE’s tracks, making one think that another guitarist in the band would open new possibilities for the quartet. To open for a band like CLUTCH is no easy task, however LIONIZE pulled it off wonderfully, engaging with fans and hyping them up for the acts to come.

Rating: 9/10

Valient Thorr live @ Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography

VALIENT THORR were an interesting addition to the bill for this tour. While falling into similar genres as the other two bands but more on the hard-rock side, VALIENT THORR seemed a little out of place with the general feel of the show. Their tracks, however, were fantastic, and got the crowd even more pumped for CLUTCH with their fast-paced rock in tracks such as Double Crossed which featured fantastic guitar work from Eidan Thorr and Deimos Thorr. Vocalist Valient Himself was somewhat erratic in nature through the night, and vocally wasn’t quite as strong as on record, however still pulled off an excellent performance and engaged with the crowd really well. The only gripe was that he rambled somewhat in between the songs, nearly breaking the pace, however once the music started again, the excitement picked right back up with no trouble at all. Tracks like Looking Glass got the crowd singing along and raging into a cheering frenzy. Bassist Storm Thorr delivered incredible basslines with a groove in his step for every song of the night, displaying excellent charisma and just having a great time, as should be the case in any performance. Halfway through their act, Valient Himself gives a nod to MOTÖRHEAD legend Lemmy Kilminster, who was a massive influence on the band. Chatting about conspiracies and aliens aside (which went down well with the crowd, who were laughing and cheering at any opportunity), VALIENT THORR made a gritty and thrashing performance, and warmed the crowd up brilliantly for CLUTCH.

Rating: 8/10

Clutch live @ Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography
Clutch live @ Academy, Manchester. Photo Credit: Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography

CLUTCH burst onto stage with overwhelming energy and precision. Frontman Neil Fallon is a consistent and incredibly engaging performer throughout the night, delivering his signature vocals for tracks such as The Regulator and A Quick Death in Texas. Throughout their performance, Neil was constantly looking at and engaging with fans, and was incredibly expressive whilst performing. For The Mob Goes Wild, the crowd did exactly that, throwing themselves forward and singing along to every word the from the American rockers’ catalogue of tracks.

While Neil and Jean-Paul were full of energy and power throughout their entire performance, guitarist Tim Sult and bassist Dan Maines stayed relatively static during CLUTCH’s set, cutting them off from the rest of the band and making the show seem to be just about Neil and Jean-Paul. This didn’t detract from either Tim Sult or Dan’s actual performance, however, as both delivered amazingly and gave the audience thumping riffs and basslines on tracks like Spacegrass and A Quick Death in Texas. The set consisted mainly of CLUTCH’s fast-paced, hard-hitting and thumping tracks such as X-Ray Visions and Sucker for the Witch, with some of their slower (yet equally heavy) tracks including 10001110101 and Spacegrass. Utilising a cowbell, Neil Fallon got the crowd grooving to D.C. Sound Attack! beautifully, demonstrating their ability to utilise a variety of instruments to create their signature sound, and displaying the influences that helped create the incredible music they make today. A guest appearance from LIONIZE keyboardist Chris Brooks made for a nice display of the closeness the two bands have, as Chris looked and played as if he was a full-term member of CLUTCH.

For an encore to a roaring crowd begging for them to return, CLUTCH did just that and rejoined the stage for two more tracks, with the crowd erupting with joy and respect for them playing Electric Worry, which goes down an absolute treat for the fans. CLUTCH‘s drummer, Jean-Paul, has said that CLUTCH has always been a live band at heart (more on that in our interview with him), and tonight’s show was a perfect example of that. Their engagement with the crowd was second to none, and their precision and overall performance was outstanding. For the end of their UK leg of the tour, CLUTCH went all out to an overwhelming response. All three acts delivered brilliantly, and their performance reinforces what has been said in the past – CLUTCH  are a live band through and through, who put all their effort and more into their live performances.

Rating: 10/10

Check out our photo gallery of the night’s action in Manchester from Sabrina Ramdoyal Photography:

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