Great Hall, Cardiff University Students Union, Sun 16 June
Let me set the scene. It’s Saturday 11 November 2006; Cardiff city centre is streaming with red, two games into the Welsh rugby Autumn International Series. Many of those supporters, in addition to rockers and metalheads, are making their way post-game to Cardiff University’s Student Union for a set by legends Motörhead. Support on the bill that night was from a band unknown to me, Clutch.
Fast forward nigh on 13 years, and the American funk-metallers are on their umpteenth headline tour and back at Cardiff University once again. And coming full circle, doing the honours this time around in support is Motörhead’s Welsh guitarist Phil Campbell. Since the untimely death of Lemmy, Campbell now plays with his three sons, Todd, Dane and Tyla, plus vocalist Neil Starr as Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons [below]. They played a blistering set, warming the crowd up perfectly: suffice to say that any band covering Ace Of Spades with an actual Motörhead guitarist on stage is setting the bar high for the night ahead.
Maryland natives Clutch hit the stage strutting their stuff from the get go. Firing through hits from their 12-album strong back catalogue, X Ray Visions and Gimme The Keys light up the early part of the set. Willie Nelson cuts a catchy tune, and Hot Bottom Feeder and Electric Worry go down a storm – huge crowd pleasers to the cult-like following in attendance.
Lead singer Neil Fallon [top] didn’t stop moving the entire set. His vocal style, totally distinct to anything out there in the mainstream, sets him out there on his own. Indeed, Clutch’s whole sound is somewhat unique. I can only pull some comparisons from the likes of Rage Against The Machine and early Red Hot Chili Peppers. To have a band set in their own little ballpark is hard to come by these days.
After a brief break off stage, the trio return for an energetic encore of H.B. Is In Control and How To Shake Hands. Fresh off an impressive set at Download Festival just two days previous, Clutch kept their foot on the gas for their return visit to south Wales.
words OWEN SCOURFIELD photos HUGH RUSSELL