Clutch are a band for whom the levees have broken and the gallows pole has been strung up; playing blues music that’s rain lashed and sun baked in a world of highway outlaws and evil spirits and tonight they roll into Glasgow’s Academy; a large venue to be sure but one that the crowd seem to amply fill (even if the balcony is closed for the evening).
Then again the Maryland rockers are now on their tenth album and arguably their stock has never been higher.
The audience arrives at in waves; young metalheads in Metallica and Slayer hoodies crowd the front; middle aged rockers fresh from their day jobs in leather jackets and finally, bleary eyed stoners wondering where the support bands went.
First up are locals Tijuana Bibles; a young rock group from Glasgow who put on an exciting show despite owing far more to Kasabian than Kyuss.
There’s a palpable arrogance to the group; a band who refuse to be overawed by even a room of committed metalheads and Glasgow’s second biggest stage and while the music is pretty standard neo-psych fare they pull off an enjoyable set.
Frontman, Tony Costello eyeballs the crowd like they just stole his pint, elongating his syllables like Liam Gallagher and stalking the stage while his band mates whip up a storm behind him, particularly on standout ‘Sun Chaser’.
Some of the lengthier instrumental sections struggle to hold the audience’s attention, but the misfits howl on ‘You’re My Killer’ will make the hairs on yours arms stand on end.
Ones to watch for fans of the likes of The LaFontaines, even if they don’t fit in perfectly among the meatier fare on show tonight.
Next up comes the heaviest band on the evening’s bill, Greek rockers, Planet of Zeus.
Channelling the pummelling breakdowns of Mastodon and the explosive breakbeats of Corrosion of Conformity, they churn out grinding riffs like a buffalo being torn apart by wolves, often exploding into madcap final chorus dashes in a similar fashion to those other perpetual roadhogs, Motorhead.
They’re far more laid back than Tijuana Bibles, encouraging the audience to show some of the spirit that Glasgow is famous for and even getting a few people bouncing by their end of their half hour slot.
Ten albums down, Clutch have a plethora of music to choose from so it’s perhaps a little bit of shame that so much of the set is drawn from this year’s comparatively breezy Psychic Warfare; a record with a way for a catchy melody and humour, but lacking a little of the bite that has made them metal festival mainstays.
Nonetheless the likes of the daft sci-fi sloganeering of ‘X-Ray Visions’, the heavy blues of ‘A Quick Death in Texas’ and the supremely over-the-top ‘Sucker for the Witch’ are all great fun, while older tracks like the choogling stomp of ‘The Regulator’ get heads banging.
There’s not a huge amount in the way of stage show or lighting and over an hour and half the pattern of arid dusty intro then clanging doomy riff, galloping breakdown and repeat does get a little repetitive, but even by the time the quartet close the set with fan favourites ‘The Wolf Man Kindly Requests’ and the always enjoyable ‘DC Sound Attack’ there’s no shortage of enthusiasm in the room.
Words: Max Sefton
Photos: Paul Storr