With one guitar being played through three (count ’em) amps and one drum-kit being played using upside down drumsticks, Melbourne’s King of the North don’t really do subtle. Fittingly, neither does the audience – which is mostly filled up, naturally, with people who decided their Clutch shirt was the most appropriate shirt to wear to a Clutch show. The duo’s boom-thwack approach to downtuned meat-and-potatoes rock & roll might win over your uncle who insists on not listening to “that Triple J shit”, but has little to offer a more discerning ear hoping for some substance beyond the red levels.
A documentary might have brought new-found attention to pub-rock veterans Cosmic Psychos, but one gets the impression Ross Knight and co. would be chugging away on beers and instruments regardless of whether us slack-jawed yokels were staring back at them or not. Their setlist remains unchanged since the infamous Dune Rats tour, but it doesn’t exactly need rearranging – Pub sets a furious pace, Lost Cause brings it home and everything in-between is worthy of a raised fist and a screamed refrain. It’s loose, it’s loud, it’s live and, as far as tonight’s headliner is concerned, it’s a near-perfect fit.
One of the great things about a packed show at a relatively-big venue is how an audience can make whoever is on stage feel like the biggest musical act in the world. It’s a feeling that comes to mind as the lights dim and desert-rock die-hards Clutch arrive on stage – the roars are low-pitched, rumbling and near-deafening; with the primarily long-bearded brethren howling at the Maryland natives much in the same way their daughters would presumably scream at the latest pop sensation. There are points early on in the set that frontman Neil Fallon doesn’t even need to sing into the microphone – it’s being amplified tenfold by the masses, many of whom have evidently been seeing them live for over a decade.
It’s this energy that elevates the entire performance – this is a celebration of all things Clutch, past and present. The lion’s share of the set derives itself from last year’s Cosmic Warfare, which the audience laps up with just as much fervency as it does earlier numbers such as Minotaur and The Mob Goes Wild. Fallon saunters and shimmies like a man possessed, completely embracing his role as frontman. The guitars are loud and heavy, the drums ricochet off the walls and every one of the 18 songs played is given the reception of a number-one hit single. It’s a bizarre alternative universe inside a Clutch show, but it’s one you should visit sometime. You never know just what it is that you might discover.
Gallery: Clutch, Psychos @ The Metro, Sydney 2016 / Photos By Maria Boyadgis