LIVE: Clutch / Valient Thorr @ Camden Roundhouse, London

By James Davenport

As 2016 draws to a close, a lot of people are more than happy to say goodbye to what has been a year of mixed emotions and shocking surprises. Not tonight though, everyone is in high spirits as US mountain rockers Clutch bring their electrifying live show to the Roundhouse in Camden. The band released their eleventh studio album ‘Psychic Warfare’ in October last year and tonight’s show is one of the final dates that closes out their massive world tour in aid of said album.

The main support for the European leg of the tour is none other than Valient Thorr who don’t hesitate in leaving a lasting impression on the crowd. Claiming to have come from “inside the planet Venus”, Valient Thorr are bringing back the old school heavy metal sound and clearly having a lot of fun doing it. Sounding like a much louder version of the type of band you’d expect your dad to have listened to in the 70’s or 80’s, it’s often hard to tell just how serious they take themselves or if there’s some sort of ‘in joke’. Either way, they’re pretty fucking entertaining.

Opening their set with the infamous line “please allow me to adjust my pants, so that I may dance the good time dance” Clutch rip into ‘The Mob Goes Wild’. Which they do, as the crowd erupts with the same energy as the band, there’s 110% being given from both parties to ensure 2016 goes out on a high. It’s not hard to see why tonight’s show is sold out either, as the band have amounted an enormous fan base over their twenty-five year career. “My there’s a lot of people in this room” Fallon says, “it’s making me nervous”, but from the performance being given the latter statement is far from obvious.

For a band with such an extensive back catalogue it must be difficult trying to create a set list that will satisfy fans both old and new as well as push forward any new material. Clutch appear to have done all of the above almost effortlessly as well as including a rendition of ‘10001110101’. Frontman Neil Fallon explains that they don’t play this song all too often, as they don’t have a full time keyboard player but tonight they’ve poached keyboardist Chris Brooks from the opening band, Lionize in order to play this fan favourite.

Clutch tear their way through an hour and half set with each and every track being played with note for note perfection. This is further enhanced by guitarist Tim Sult not passing up any opportunities to show off his musicianship and talent with some awe inspiring solos. Fusing together their unique blend of stoner grooves and layering them with Neil Fallon’s husky but soulful voice, Clutch undoubtedly deserve all the praise they’re given by their loyal followers. The band close out the evening with a blistering encore and the promise of returning to our shores in the summer of next year. If tonight has proved one thing and one thing alone, it’s that Clutch truly are 50,000 unstoppable watts of raw power and excitement.