Clutch + The Picturebooks + The Inspector Cluzo @ Brixton Academy, London

Spread the metal:

Clutch + The Picturebooks + The Inspector Cluzo

@ O2 Academy Brixton, London

December 2018

Review by Ryan Whitwell
Photos by Ya Cheng (Glasgow show)

There was some Electric Worry (wink) as a stage right speaker was making a horrendous buzz before the bands started. Not a nice, low-fi fuzz, more like something was about to go BANG buzz. Staff were sorting it, but us fans were a bit nervous that we’d have to put up with it for the duration. Fortunately, I think it got solved, or they figured out a workaround before the first of two support acts began.

 

The Inspector Cluzo were first up. The French farmer duo have a solid sound, bluesy at times, hard rock at others. The banter was great too, a political statement against Macron (keep fighting the politicians, everyone!) and encouraging some crowd participation with the title line in the song For My Family.

Vocals were usually towards the higher octaves, with quite the talented display. Occasionally the aggression would boil over with bursts of growling to match the bump in guitar distortion.

Being a duo, drums were important and the great mix of gentile jazzy riffs juxtaposed with hard-hitting hard rock styles worked well. It kept me guessing, as someone that hadn’t heard them before, where the set and each song was going.

At one point during the thumping final number, singer/guitarist Malcolm Lacrouts held aloft one of the drummer’s cymbals, forcing drummer Phil Jourdain to raise his hands upward before the cymbal and stand were tossed into the photo pit. Gradually the drum kit was knocked over bit by bit, leaving the bass drum upturned and a tom in reach, which actually sounded pretty good. A bit of a crazy way to end a set.

The Picturebooks were next up. I really enjoyed this set and their heavy blues sound. Fortunately, the drummer was doing a great job with just kick and huge floor toms, I’m sure that has nothing to do with the previous bands’ aversion to cymbals. The fact that it’s a two-piece creating so much noise and energy makes it all the sweeter.

 

Distorted hollow body raucous roots coming from the guitar, alongside the near tribal drum beats, really got the crowd amped up. Some crazy effects here and there were added to the noisy and loose attitude. I loved it! No fucks were given, with messy tones and plenty of reverb on the kick drum.

Funnily enough, they have a track named Zero Fucks Given, which they played, so my earlier summary about the number of fucks present on stage was correct. They included a prompt to stick all your middle fingers up to, “all that bullshit” going on in the world, which the crowd had no issue doing.

Nice shout out the fans for supporting the support bands too. And a nice shout out to singer dad who was up at the sound desk. They also mentioned a new album in March and that they’ll be back in London in May 2019. The penultimate number, Rabbit and the Wolf, offered a simple southern rock sound, stripped back and raw, which juxtaposed well with the punchier finale, Your Kisses Burn Like Fire. Plenty of attendees were singing along and headbanging, great stuff!

There was a short wait before Clutch came out, and unfortunately the workaround with the speakers became apparent: basically, it didn’t sound loud enough. There was also a lack of that bass hit you’d expect at a live rock gig as the whole mix seemed a bit too tinny in my opinion.

Sound issues aside, the atmosphère was really good. Each track got an amazing response from the fans with great energy singing along and getting some movement in nearer the front. The setlist was a great mix covering the full timeline of the band’s repertoire. Having Pure Rock Fury followed by Earth Rocker was a personal favourite moment for me. Earth Rocker actually got a bigger response than Pure Rock Fury, which surprised me.

As someone that has spent almost every gig this past year with my camera in the photo pit and not in the crowd, it was weird being in the crowd. You have your own ecosystem of people and because of the slightly too quiet music, it was interesting to hear people talk to each other and share their opinions about their favourite songs. The atmosphere seemed to really pick up for the second half of the set as tracks like Crucial Velocity and Emily Dickinson kicked out, followed by the previously mentioned Pure Rock Fury and Earth Rocker, but the one number that seemed to get the loudest “YES!” from people around me was the encore, which started with Electric Worry.

Ending on a high, the previous concerns about sound seemed to fade away. The crowd were clapping along, as I knew they would, chanting “Bang bang bang”, fingers and hands rising. It was a great moment and really lifted the atmosphere. Clutch finished off with another cracker, How to Shake Hands, to round off a solid set full of high energy tracks.

Setlist:
H.B. Is in Control
50,000 Unstoppable Watts
Mice and Gods
Ghoul Wrangler
In Walks Barbarella
X-Ray Visions
Firebirds!
Big News I
The House That Peterbilt
The Regulator
Crucial Velocity
Emily Dickinson
Pure Rock Fury
Earth Rocker
D.C. Sound Attack!

Encore:
Electric Worry
How to Shake Hands