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Clutch / Bombus / Greenleaf http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/64/95/59/clutch-live-review-thumb-72-1460914744.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     April 17, 2016    
 
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Clutch / Bombus / Greenleaf - The Ritz, Manchester (UK) - 10 December 2015

The only time I have seen Clutch live is on the DVD that accompanies the deluxe version of the 2013 three disc release 'Earth Rocker', so I was eager to see how good they were "in the flesh".

Swedish Stoner Rockers Greenleaf had just thirty minutes to make an impression and to be fair they did just that. I had a little trouble making out many of the lyrics and the song titles also passed me by, but they had a good energy and front-man Arvid Jonasson had a decent voice, one with a hint of Jim Morrison in the lower register. Like a heavier version of Jethro Tull (without the flute I must add) and with some clever progressions in place, they received a good reception from the half full room.

By the time Bombus took to the stage the venue was packed but, if I'm honest, interest levels waned after the first couple of songs and the fifty minute set length was twenty too long. They also hail from Sweden, Gothenburg to be exact, and they played no nonsense Traditional Heavy Metal that came across like early Accept and Motörhead. The twin guitar attack certainly generated some intensity but it was very unoriginal and clichéd, right down to the foot on the monitor posturizing. Closing song 'Into The Fire' (one for the ladies apparently) seemed to last forever. It had too many riffs and time changes for its own good and ultimately proved to be a poor imitation of a Metallica epic from the eighties. The meagre applause at its conclusion merely reinforced my opinion.

Clutch's recent 'Psychic Warfare' album is, dare I say it, their most commercial release to date, building on the momentum created by 'Earth Rocker'. Speaking to front-man Neil Fannon earlier in the day, he was keen to stress the band's faith in the release and to back that up they have been playing well over half of the songs at the sold out shows. 'X Ray Visions' got things under way in great style after a low key entrance. It was an up-tempo riff monster and the usually unassuming Fannon came to life and displayed a very animated side of himself. 'Firebirds' and 'Decapitation Blues' followed without hesitation and the between song banter was practically non-existent. Anyone expecting a flashy stage show featuring a host of theatrical embellishments was going to be disappointed. Guitarist Tim Sult and bass player Dan Maines remained rooted to the spot, concentrating on their specific roles, content to let Fannon attract most of the attention. 'The Soapmakers' and 'The Regulator' were two older songs that were welcomed warmly and saw Fannon strap on a guitar for the first time to bolster the sound. Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster got a couple of very brief solo spots as songs culminate and held down the rhythm with Maines, this perfectly created a foundation for Sult's big riffs and short solos. 'Quick Death In Texas' and 'Sucker For The Witch' took us back to 'Psychic....' and were faithful reproductions of the studio versions. I actually thought there would have been more improvisation and though that this was a slight let down, although the songs did have more power and highlighted the calibre of the musicianship. The western-tinged 'Doom Saloon' led into an atmospheric 'Lady Of Electric Light' and then the temperature were raised again with a frantic 'Noble Savage'. The two song encore included 'Cypress Grove' and a barnstorming rendition of 'Earth Rocker', then it was time to head back out into the cold.

I was more than pleased with my first live Clutch encounter and will certainly be keeping an eye on the touring schedule in 2016... just in case.

Dave Bott

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