Clutch + Lionize @ Birmingham Academy – 29th April 2014

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Clutch have now reached a level in their career where they can quite simply relax onstage and do exactly what they intend to; authentic, alternative righteousness, and let’s face it, they do it well.

Tonight’s support and fellow Marylanders, Lionize, are no different in their authenticity as they take us through their genre-bending set. There is a definite fusion of the groove rock the crowd know and love but there is a funk-reggae element that creeps in throughout the trio’s set (accompanied by a superb drummer, might I say).

This reggae element is heard most prominently in the rhythms of Sea Of Tranquility. Whilst their reputation for being a band that quite simply jams is clear in the loosely structured Lazarus Style.

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Singer and guitarist Nate Bergman has led Lionize from a funk band to a more volatile rock outfit and with the release of Jetpack Soundtrack they have solidified and streamlined their sound, pulling tonight’s crowd away from the bar and wishing they were up there onstage jamming along with them. Now signed to Clutch’s own Weathermaker label, Lionize can only gain more appreciation from like-minded rock-lovers.

It’s those heavy, (bearded) rock-lovers that I’m surrounded by tonight and who stand ready for Clutch to descend and deliver their Southern rock special.

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As the crowd welcome Neil Fallon to the stage he is ready to kick-start with the stomping Earth Rocker. Riding on the back of the success of this release it is great to see them come back over to the UK and confidently grow each time they return. Even after ten studio albums they have come back sounding faster and heavier than before and the crowd are lapping it up.

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Fallon is equally disturbing as he is charismatic, whilst drummer Jean Paul Gaster’s solos are dizzying to the point of nausea. Tonight we are stuffed full of catchy grooves, from The Mob Goes Wild to 10001110101. Fallon’s undeniable raspy vocals and strange but endearing lyrics are as strong as ever and as they conclude their stomping rock session with Electric Worry the fans can go away feeling like they’ve witnessed a classic rock and roll show.

Let’s put it this way. Clutch are better than ever, and tonight I’m sure everyone in the room would agree.

Review – Lisa Coghlan
Photos – Katja Ogrin

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