Clutch – Great Hall, Cardiff, 17/12/2016

Away from the German market, the temporary ice rink and the giant ferris wheel, the queue outside Cardiff University’s Great Hall snakes around the corner without a hint of Christmas in sight apart from the odd heavy metal ugly sweater – oh, and the brass band who are successfully irritating every single punter with their godawful covers of popular festive carols. Luckily, it’s a short-lived affair as doors open and everyone piles in, thankful that they can escape the world once more for a few short hours in the company of three bands and a bunch of like-minded individuals.

In other news, isn’t it amazing at how cowbells just make everything so much better? For a piece of metal that will only make one, monotonous ring, the joy they can bring to a room of people – particularly in the rock and metal world – is quite something. Certainly, Lionzie (7) benefit from this immensely. The sound is balanced perfectly, allowing their Deep Purple/Black Stone Cherry driving rock to resonate brilliantly but it’s a slow start from the Americans until drummer Chase Lapp brings his secret weapon into play and polite appreciation turns into loud cheers and applause. From then on, the crowd are invested, clapping and getting involved, the band in no doubt that they’ve made plenty of new friends in Wales tonight. It also has a knock-on effect with Valient Thorr (8) as they turn things up even more with a pulsating set of raw, uninhibited hard rock and punk. Sure, vocalist Valient Himself talks some right bollocks introducing songs (describing Dr Who as a news programme, for example) and their lyrics about putting microchips into brains wouldn’t look out of place in an article from Infowars, but for pure, unadulterated fun then you’d be hard pushed to find a better band, with influences from ZZ Top to Iggy Pop apparent throughout their set and songs like ‘Mask of Sanity’ and ‘Cut & Run’ going down a real treat. Oh, and for the second time in this review, a mention of drummer Iggy, who never seems to break a sweat for the full forty minutes and looks effortlessly cool to boot.

It’s no secret that Clutch (9) are one of the best live bands on the circuit right now. As entertaining as they are powerful, it’s generally outside influences that will stifle their shows as opposed to the band being sloppy or having an off night. When everything is in harmony however, they are nothing short of magical and that’s exactly what Cardiff are treated to tonight. They open with great gusto and Passive Restraints sets the benchmark for the rest of the set, but it’s the thunderous double salvo of The Face and Sucker for the Witch that causes the place to explode properly. From there, it’s a party in every sense of the word. Neil Fallon is an incredibly talented frontman, his voice carrying brilliantly around the room as he leads us through A Quick Death in Texas and Minotaur, whilst his overall persona and movement has only ever been effectively executed by one other person, and that happens to be Mike Patton. Even when Decapitation Blues lives up to its name and gets cut off due a slight technical hitch, Fallon keeps things moving until the band can pick the song up again and not once does the show lose momentum. They’re also able to play a couple of rarer cuts thanks to Lionize’s Chris Brooks guesting on keyboards, with 10001110101 and Escape from the Prison Planet getting outings tonight. The absolute highlight, however, is the grand finale; a blistering romp through The Regulator closes the main set whilst the encore comprises a riotous Electric Worry and the divinity of X Ray Visions. For many in attendance, this will be their last gig of 2016. What a way to go out.

Clutch setlist

Passive Restraints
The House That Peterbilt
Pure Rock Fury
The Face
Sucker for the Witch
You Can’t Stop Progress
Power Player
A Quick Death in Texas
Your Love Is Incarceration
50,000 Unstoppable Watts
Decapitation Blues
Burning Beard
Escape From the Prison Planet
The Regulator
Electric Worry
X-Ray Visions

About Elliot Leaver

PlanetMosh's resident Iron Maiden fanboy and Mr. Babymetal. Also appreciates the music of Pink Floyd, Rammstein, Nightwish, Avenged Sevenfold, Slipknot and many others. Writing to continue to enjoy life away from the stresses of full-time employment.
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