Clutch // Green Lung // Tiger Club // Live Review // The O2 Academy // Leeds
It’s Sunday night but this weekend is not quite over yet as we make our way to Leeds for the night. It’s been an awfully long time (pre-pandemic) since I visited Leeds O2 for a gig and it’s definitely exciting to be back! The band to reunite me with this venue is the one and only Clutch and we already knew it would be one hell of a night.
Up first, is Tigercubwho are taking up a very small portion of the front of the stage. Having never heard of them before, we were going in with an empty slate and open-mindedness to see what these guys were all about. There was a decent-sized crowd who had arrived early to see them too and were eagerly stood up close to watch. Starting with “Favourite Song” there is a subtle darkness to their sound with melodic vocals. The crowd took to these guys instantly and gladly clapped along when asked during “Blue Mist in My Head”. As the band continued through the set which included tracks like “Stop Beating On My Heart (Like A Bass Drum)” and the latest single “The Perfume of Decay”, the crowd grew as more people arrived and came forward to see who was playing. It’s never an easy thing to open a show, especially with a headliner like tonight but these guys killed it and I’ve no doubt earned themselves some new fans tonight.
Taking us through the next step of the night were Green Lung. Instantly there was a difference in the pace of music as these guys had a bit more of an energetic beat to them. From the first track “Woodland Rites” frontman Tom Templar commands your attention with his performance but also the way he interacts with the now much bigger crowd as he has them pumping fists in the air from the the second track “Leaders of the Blind”. With the technical guitar riffs balanced against heavy bass, there is something about these guys that just pulls you in and never lets go. Maybe it’s the religious and wiccan references in the lyrics of “Reapers Scythe” and “Graveyard Sun” contrasted against the more psychedelic melodies or the captivating presence these guys have but one things for sure, they are a band to watch out for if you’ve not seen them. With heavy influences of Black Sabbath, they capture that mystical feel while still being metal and feeling familiar yet new. The crowd here tonight seemed to enjoy them as much as I did and be completely taken by them. Finishing with “Let The Devil In ”, the crowd were shouting ‘Hail Satan’ with the band and I’m not sure we were ready to let these guys go as it was an amazing performance.
It’s finally time for the mighty Clutch to hit the stage and the crowd are ready and eager to see them. With the lights going down and the sound system playing an intro track there are huge cheers as the crowd sing along knowing what to expect.
The lights hit and the band take their place on stage to another huge cheer before they begin to play “Passive Restraints”. Kicking off with such a familiar favourite is a surefire way to get the crowd geared up for the rest of the set and this is no expectation as the crowd are jumping and headbanging from the get go. With a changing setlist each night, the band followed this up with “The Mob Goes Wild” and “Earth Rocker”. Of course the setlist includes
tracks off their latest album ‘Sunrise On Slaughter Beach’ which was only released in September among the impressive back catalogue of hits. From “Slaughter Beach” to “Skeletons on Mars”, the crowd enjoyed hearing these tracks live for the first time and already seemed very familiar with them. For those not as familiar with the new album yet, there were plenty of older tracks such as “The Soapmakers” and “Cypress Grove” to enjoy. The encore pulled out all the stops though with “Pure Rock Fury” and “Electric Worm” before closing on their cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son”
Clutch always provide an outstanding performance for their fans. Frontman Neil Fallon is a driving force behind this as he uses every inch of the front of the stage. While this draws your eye and keeps your focus on him, it’s clear that the back and forth is also a way to connect with the crowd. He stops and takes a moment to connect and look directly at fans on the front row or up on the balcony. It is this connection that also has Fallon instructing the crowd almost as a conductor to an orchestra as they followed his every move and direction. Although I’m sure that many of the fans here tonight have seen these guys so many times that they instinctively move to the music. While all of this is going on the rest of the band are performing every song with precision as the backbone behind the performance. Having played together for so many years, these guys are an incredibly tight unit completely in sync with one another. For a Sunday night, there is no better way to end the weekend than seeing Clutch do what they do best and tonight it was an incredible show.