WHILE other American bands were re-considering their tours across Europe Clutch didn't make a fuss, just turned up to play in Belfast producing a night of pure unadulterated hard rock.
It was a three band line-up with Irish act The Mighty Steff opening the evening (November 21st) in Limelight 1. With many still in the neighbouring bar there were only a couple of dozen in the venue when they took to the stage.
Energetic and perky, the band looked as if they have loads of potential but probably need more time on larger stages to hone their set and stagecraft further.
The same couldn't be said about Planet of Zeus - they came on stage as if headlining, their recent run of dates as well as their Bloodstock slot on the Sophie Lancaster Stage have turned their hard grooving act into colossi on stage.
The Greek quartet are assured without being arrogant, confident without being crass and showcase a set that would the envy of many. 'Macho Libre' was among the stand-out tracks as Babis (vocals and guitar) smiled throughout the set, exchanging happy glances with fellow axe man Stelios as Giannis (bass) and Seraphim (drums) nailed down a solid, tight rhythm attack. Hurry back soon was the message from all in attendance.
The main attraction, Clutch, drew a rapturous response from a crowd who appreciate the hard rockers making a second date in 19 months.
Neil Fallon dominates the stage from the off, prowling and grinning in equal measure from opener 'X-Ray' through to 'DC Sound'.
'Sucker for the Witch' and 'Earthrocker' are played with aplomb and the sort of straightforward on stage attack that earns deep applause and roars from long-standing fans and those seeing the new band from the Maryland monsters.
This was as close to a faultless set - despite the sound becoming muddy in places - as you will see in a long time.
PS - After the show we meandered around to see Pat McManus in Voodoo, to launch his 'From Blues Train to Irish Town' album. As usual Pat laid down a great set of intense blues tinged rock. There was not a fault in this fluid set.
Review by Jonny
Pix by Darren McVeigh