Despite playing for 12 years now, this is the first time US band Lionize have made it to the UK. No need for them to worry about being well received here though, Clutch fans are an open-minded bunch of music lovers, their sound is analogous to Clutch’s, and more importantly they’re a shit-hot band. With a backbone of bottom-heavy grooves, big vocals, and waves of 70’s Hammond organ attacks, it’s easy for Clutch fans to take to Lionize. Adding soul, gospel and reggae elements to their rock makes their music uplifting and infectious, and a ray of sunshine in Manchester is never ignored. Tonight Lionize roared, and they needed to, it’s no time to act coy when you’re opening for a band like Clutch.
With no fanfare, Maryland’s Clutch come roaring onto stage with ‘Crucial Velocity’, and by that I mean both the song from latest album ‘Earth Rocker’, and the kinetic energy of the band. Clutch are a musical Mike Tyson, biting your ears off and aiming to knock you out in the first round. Neil Fallon is a modern Zeus in sneakers, lightning bolts of lyrics bursting forth from his huge beard and gesticulating with the fervor of a televangelist. I first saw this band 16 years ago and they just keep getting better, I don’t know how but they do. With each member taking turns to create a unique set-list every night, they ensure each gig is fresh and unique. This also means they dust off old gems you thought you’d never hear live, tonight’s surprise being ‘Space Grass’, pre-2007 the venue would have smelled like Bob Marley’s trousers at this point. Fifteen songs in they finish with ‘The Wolfman Kindly Requests’, they could quit now, instead they return and blast out ‘The Regulator’, ‘D.C Sound Attack’, ‘Electric Worry’ and ‘One Eyed Dollar’. The crowd, who’ve been howling along to every song from the get-go are now drunk, sweaty, and fully sated. Clutch, you have ruined Manchester’s panties once again.