LIONIZE  have clearly taken a hell of an influence from tonight’s headliners, all swinging, Southern groove and buzzsaw guitars, but bringing Clutch’s Tim Sult onstage for a couple of tunes just highlights the gap in ingenuity and songwriting craft. VALIENT THORR  certainly have more personality of their own, their half-naked, shit-talking, greasy biker shtick backed up with seriously ace Stooges crossed with Skynyrd rock’n’roll. It’s a perfect setup for the main event. CLUTCH  leave you without a second you’d be willing to miss. The fact that they can chuck out a song like The Mob Goes Wild as an opener is proof that their cup is overflowing. But it’s more than just musicality that make Clutch so special – this is a band with serious personality. Jean-Paul Gaster’s unmistakable style makes them swing in the way that Bill Ward used to with Sabbath, and Neil Fallon’s hyperactive preacher persona is magnetic, his lyrical flights of fancy conjuring some of the most colourful and bizarre tableaux in rock. Bringing on Chris Brooks from Lionize to add keys on 10001110101 and Escape From The Prison Planet gives them another dimension, and by the time they close with a venue-wide singalong of Electric Worry and X-Ray Visions, there can’t be anyone who isn’t satisfied. Next stop Wembley if there is any justice.
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