O2 Academy Brix­ton, Lon­don 21/12/2018 KKK

Kerrang! (UK) - - Lives -

Mary­land blues-rock­ers strug­gle to get into the groove in Lon­don

■ It’s very pleas­ing that Clutch can pack out a venue as big as Brix­ton Academy, and be­tween crowd and band there’s enough beard oil un­der one roof to con­sti­tute a pos­si­ble fire haz­ard. “Let’s have a party!” cheers man-moun­tain singer Neil Fal­lon. And you re­ally want to, but de­spite his good­will and all the hir­sute faces, tonight’s set sadly never truly ig­nites.

Given how many great songs Clutch have, it’s now in­evitable that not all of the fan favourites will get an air­ing – tonight there’s no The Soap­mak­ers, A Shogun Named Mar­cus or The Mob Goes Wild, to name three – but there’s an­other prob­lem: de­spite the de­mand for tick­ets, this grand venue feels too cav­ernous for their con­coc­tion of wild rhythms and gonzo lyrics. Mice And Gods doesn’t soar high enough to touch the domed ceil­ing, 50,000 Un­stop­pable Watts echoes rather than elec­tri­fies, and Pure Rock Fury can’t peel the paint off the Grade Ii-listed fea­tures. Mid-set plod­ders Big News I and The House That Peter­bilt, mean­while, com­pound the funk that hangs in the air at times, along with the pot smoke.

Be­ing Clutch, there are mo­ments of bril­liance, though: X-ray Vi­sions’ mid-song in­tro­duc­tion of each band mem­ber by their star sign is ge­nius, The Reg­u­la­tor re­ju­ve­nates the lat­ter half of their set as it swag­gers with in­tent, and Elec­tric Worry is al­ways a barn burner that you could light a fire­work off, all stop-start mo­sey and rolling thun­der rhythms.

Sign­ing off with a song from their lat­est al­bum, Book Of Bad De­ci­sions, proves to be prophetic, though. How To Shake Hands plays to in­creas­ing pock­ets of space as some fac­tions of the crowd opt for an ear­lier tube home. Tonight, the mob goes

mild, un­for­tu­nately. ALI STAIR LAWRENCE

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