Clutch, Graveyard & Kamchatka @ The Roundhouse

18th December 2019

Another rainy winters night in Camden, but thankfully we had some fine rock and roll in town to raise our spirits prior to the oncoming Christmas holidays.

First up were Kamchatka, the blues rock band not the Siberian Mountain range in case you were wondering (and yes I had to google that). As they journeyed riff first into their opening track the formula was clearly set. Intro, verse and bridge of each track were always nifty but never truly took flight until the solo. At which point the trilby donned Mark Rylance(alike) frontman let loose and owned his fretboard completely. In fact their image was a mixed bag containing ‘The cool’ (blues) ‘The hair’ (prog) and ‘The leather’ (metal).

However overbearing deep bass tended to drown out the already underpowered vocals. This rumbling was a constant nuisance but they did make good with a few very good knockout melody, riff and chorus combinations. A composed and non stop run through some decent bluesy and head banging hard rock numbers.

Graveyard appeared out of the darkness and quickly set about their business, the business of vintage rock and rolling. These long haired Scandinavian cave dwellers undergo a mega evolution from studio to stage. LP’s just don’t translate their deliberate, melancholic, soulful and ragged brand of psychedelic meander rock.

Here in the round(house) they sounded absolutely stunning. Going in ever decreasing melodic circles with no real destination has never sounded quite so good. They moved seamlessly from uptempo layered blues rock to super slo-mo, warm comforting burners which are their undeniable strength. The intricacy in which they craft their delicate yet gargantuan dual guitar harmonies is a genuinely rare beauty. This is doubled up with power packed gruff vocals that say everything with mere emotion, without seemingly forming an English word. A dazzling set which shows that time and space can still exist at a hard rock show much to the bemusement of a cluster of cluster of metalheads.

They also get the very special award for being the first band to sound amazing in this troublesome sonic venue.

Next into gear were Clutch, as the hard hitting, fast talking blues-mobile roared into the red. They brought their alt styled, southern rock veined hard rocking riff machine to the starting line.

Along with the opening notes of Burning Beard, a sea of humanity flooded pitwards. The sway or ebb and flow was a constant reminder of the legion of fans gathered to party. Having formed way back in 1991, this isn’t surprising. The big surprise however was their set choice which eschewed from the typical new album focus and ‘the hits’. Rather you felt they played what they wanted from the archive, old, new, rare, cover or anything in between. (Having checked setlist.fm tour stats I can confirm their set choices are massively varied). Tonight it was 2004’s Blast Tyrant which got the most coverage but some stretched even as far back as 1998 on groovy The Butterfly.

Frontman Neil Fallon was a true force of nature, exhibiting powerful arm-o-graphy and muscular flexing of both vocal chord and biceps. His rapid fire gravelly delivery is as uncompromising as his bounding about stage. His almost preacher like stances, passion (and pointing) give him authority in his revered ‘church of rock and roll’.

Backing him up was the immense power of the humble blues riff firing from lead guitarist Tim Sult’s Gibson SG. His obvious mastery of the phaser and warp pedals were evident. Each fretboard run had its own heart and soul which forms the bedrock of their appeal.

The crowd demographics was an interesting one too. There was a huge mix of younger hip folk, middle to aging rockers through to pierced punks and patched metal heads. Their dance moves also ranged from funky struts (In Walks Barbarella), rock and roll twisting (The Mob Goes Wild) wild head banging (Mercury), mental moshing (Noble Savage) bluesy toe tappin (Sucker For The Witch) and even seductive swaying (The Face).

Throughout the energy and intensity levels were high, topping off a really superb performance. For me, it could have done with some ‘Earth Rocker’ tunes. But there lies the mystery set appeal…I already want to see them again!

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