Live Review: Clutch, Cosmic Psychos

7 March 2016 | 5:03 pm | Brendan Crabb

"There's a uniquely vibrant quality about Clutch, one which elicits a primal response."

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The previous instance this reviewer caught yobbos Cosmic Psychos 15 years ago, they infuriated an arena full of Tool fans. Although grappling a little to maintain the onstage rage at points, this time around large sections of the rapidly filling room were more amenable to the Melbourne veterans' loose, booze-fuelled punk. Some uninitiated were soon won over; meanwhile, certain non-believers (in)directly took the band's advice and went to the pub instead.

"And on the microphone... Scorpio!" Charismatic frontman Neil Fallon's oddball, stream-of-consciousness lyrics being bellowed back at him en masse during dynamic opener X-Ray Visions set the tone for the remainder. There's a uniquely vibrant quality about Clutch, one which elicits a primal response akin to what Bobby Cannavale's character in Vinyl demanded his A&R team find when recruiting fresh acts: namely, hummable songs that compel listeners to call their local radio station, dance, copulate or fight.

The Maryland outfit have such an effect on the faithful — well, except the brawling part perhaps. The enthusiasm within the packed venue was infectious, even for a friend of this writer who had primarily attended to see their onstage predecessors and had minimal knowledge of the headliners' extensive catalogue. Playing latest LP Psychic Warfare almost in its entirety would have been risky if it wasn't arguably their strongest outing in some time. Conversely, devotees also embraced staples Electric Worry and The Mob Goes Wild with sheer gusto, a swathe of blues-drenched guitars, Jean-Paul Gaster's swinging drumming style and even a rocking cowbell jam adding further heft.

Brimming with the confidence that more than 20 years in the game affords, but not acting like they were doing the audience a favour by merely showing up, Clutch continue to be somewhat of an anomaly in hard rock — but a vital one.

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