At The O2 Academy, Leeds, U.K., December 19, 2019

CLUTCH (Live at The O2 Academy, Leeds, U.K., December 19, 2019)
Photo: Mick Burgess

It’s incredible to think that it’s been over 25 years since the release of their debut album, Transnational Speedway League in 1993 and for a time, it seemed as though Clutch were destined to remain something of a cult act. However, a relentless touring schedule and a consistently high-quality output of music finally paid dividends especially when freed from record label interference when they moved onto their own Weathermaker label. Unleashed, Clutch became unstoppable

Fast forward to 2019 and their latest release, Book of Bad Decisions, is their highest charting album in the UK ever as they returned for a triumphant sold out pre-Christmas tour.

Speaking to drummer Jean Paul Gaster ahead of the show, he confirmed that each band member takes it in turns to pick the setlist, that way each show is totally unique meaning that over 70 songs have been rehearsed and performed on the current world tour. Now that’s democracy at work and maybe one reason why the lineup has remained unchanged throughout their recording history. Tonight, it was Jean Paul’s choice and although not slated for inclusion in tonight’s set, a late bid for the addition of DC Sound Attack was duly made.

With no need for cheesy gimmicks or elaborate stage sets, Clutch literally let the music do the talking with Rats from that very first album kicking things off in frantic style before Mercury, Worm Drink and Army Of Bono, a trio of cuts from their mighty Blast Tyrant opus, kicked like a mule.

Gimme The Keys and the full throttle of Vision Quest from their latest album brought Clutch bang up to date. Their sound was colossal. Neil Fallon’s throaty roar stamped its authority on every single word. Tim Sult’s guitar riffs were enormous and could stop a rhino at 100 paces and the rhythm section of Gaster and bassist Dan Maines carved a groove a deep as the Grand Canyon with Gaster cementing his reputation as one of the great drummers of his generation.

Where Clutch really excel is when their Hard Rock credentials collide with those DC Go Go Funk influences and then they are untouchable. In Walks Barbarella and Subtle Hustle locked into such an irresistible groove that had the whole hall moving with the beat.

Then it came. Our voice had been heard, DC Sound Attack locked into place and stretched into a mazy cowbell clanking Funk jam. Absolutely brilliant, the perfect blend of Rock and Funk.

With just enough time to slip in the stompalong Electric Worry and an inspired take on the Creedence Clear Water Revival classic, Fortunate Son, where Fallon more than matched John Fogerty’s roar, Clutch crowned a glorious year with a truly triumphant performance. On this form there’s few bands around that come anywhere close to Clutch on stage.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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