Clutch + Cosmic Psychos + King Of The North
The Forum Theatre, Melbourne
5 March 2016
Review by Joshua Bulleid
Photos by David Youdell
The last time I saw Clutch was at Hellfest in 2014. On that occasion I couldn’t even get near the tent they were playing in, let alone the stage, due to the massive packed crowd. All I could actually see of the band was the occasional flash of frontman Neil Fallon’s red t-shirt off in the dark, smoky distance. Clutch being Clutch, the band somehow still managed to be one of the indisputable highlights of the three-day festival; so it was a safe bet they would be delivering the goods for their sold out set at The Forum, on the second night of their three-day stop-over in Melbourne. …and deliver they certainly did!
Clutch are an absolute tour de force on the live front and this occasion was no different. If anything, the night’s set was sure to be better than all their past performances by the sheer fact that they were coming off the back of phenomenal, career-topping record Psychic Warfare (2015)—from which the majority of the night’s set was drawn, along with a few choice cuts from their previous, return-to-form record Earthrocker (2013).
While a focus on newer material is often to the detriment of acts with as long and as rich as history as Clutch have, this was certainly not the case in this instance. As suggested above, Psychic Warfare contains some of, if not the strongest material Clutch have recorded to date, and their rabid and impressively sized fan base absolutely ate the new material up, singing along to every new lyric and bouncing along with every new groove.
The band exploded into the set with energetic renditions of new classics X-Ray Visions, Firebirds and Crucial Velocity, before really kicking things into top gear with Burning Beard, from 2005’s Robot Hive / Exodus, and from here the energy remained at peak output throughout the remainder of their flawless, seventeen-song set.
That Clutch barely even touched their formidable back catalogue, only even occasionally dipped into their previous magnum opus Blast Tyrant (2004) once during the main set, for a haunting rendition of The Regulator. Then, only once more when kicking off the encore with crowd favourite, The Mob Goes Wild; is a testament to the sheer strength of their recent output, which when combined with the band’s masterful command of the live setting, renders them virtually unstoppable.
As successful as they have been and as well known and respected as they have become in recent times, Clutch remain severely underrated by the sheer degree by which they excel within their field. Should you come across anyone spouting that age-old adage, ‘rock is dead’, then you should immediately place a copy of Psychic Warfare in their hands and drag them to the nearest Clutch show, where the error of their misguided ways will be made immediately clear.
Two-piece, openers King Of The North were equally inspiring with their more-upbeat and bass-heavy take on Kyuss, while prehistoric punks Cosmic Psychos were widely well received by the large crowd, if not as intrinsically impressive.
The photos below are from the Sydney show on 4 March 2016.