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Clutch, Whelan's, Dublin, 11th April 2003.

While Clutch were doing their sound-check earlier in the day, two fans walked in off the street and began requesting songs. That's how much people were waiting for tonight, they couldn't even hold on until the band took the stage, they had to come in a few hours early.

First up, though, were Throat, long-term friends of Clutch and one of the young bands in which Ireland's future lies. A short sharp set made up almost entirely of new material won over a lot of fans. Distorted riffs flew from the stage at the crowd, which had gathered near the bar. A solid bass, provided by Russell Crookes, built the foundations over which Mike Barr delivered the sort of slicing, staccato drum patterns that Fyfe Ewing would be proud of. 'Cleaver' and 'Soho' were the only familiar sounds, but it's clear that Throat have developed on their initial sound and now seem intent on carving out their own niche.

The headliners were the band of the night, though. A fluid mix of rock, stoner grooves, deep southern-fried bellows and plain old pure, rock fury; they weren't leaving until everyone was happy. Talking the stage, Neil Fallon asked "Who wants to rock?" and with that Clutch were off. Hitting their stride from the get-go, there was no letting up for the duration of their set. The band are currently touring on the back of their live album, "Live at the Googolplex", but there is only so much you can capture on record. In the proper live setting, you can SEE Clutch shine through.

They love what they do. Neil, now without his trademark beard, dominated the stage simply with his voice alone. The roar of 'Pure rock fury' was enough to send the pit off into a seething mass, before it was levelled by the almighty 'Immortal'. The highlight of the night though had to be seeing Graham Hopkins (ex-Therapy?/Halite) standing open-mouthed in amazement when Jean-Paul took off into a stunning display of stick work, which almost ended in his drum kit being put out of commission. A pleasure to watch the masters at work.

Ken McGrath.

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