ON their last visit to these shores, Clutch supported Thin Lizzy round the corner at the legendary City Hall. With their latest album, Earth Rocker, garnering rave reviews they returned for an extensive run of dates running the length and breadth of the country.

Their show in Newcastle was the opening night of their European tour and the final leg of their year-long trek in support of Earth Rocker. Joining them along the way were the recent signings to Clutch’s very own Weather Maker Music label, Lionize.

Built around the granite hard, rasping vocals of lead singer Nate Bergman, the funked-up bass of Henry Upton and the stabbing Hammond organ of Chris Brooks, Lionize were s big on groove and heavy on guitar.

As a band who cover a lot of ground musically and wear their diverse influences with pride, Lionize combine a potent blend of hard rock, blues, funk, reggae and a few other influences for good measure Packing a punch few can match, Earth Rocker sees Clutch releasing their best album in over two decades of consistently impressive records and with a healthy eight of the album’s eleven tracks being featured on stage, the band clearly think so too.

As a rabid Neil Fallon launches headlong into Crucial Velocity, Clutch show their class from the word go.

While Fallon takes centre stage the contribution of the rest of the band cannot be understated.

Drummer Jean Paul Gaster packs one Godzillasized groove backed by the funk-driven bass of Dan Maines. While guitarist Tim Sult may have the appearance of shy retiring librarian, his Gibson spits out towering riffs and glorious wah-soaked solos with The Mob Goes Wild ticking all the boxes.

When the band lock in tight during the cowbell clanking Funk fest of DC Sound Attack, it is truly an earth-shaking moment. A wonderfully understated Gone Cold allowed the band space to breathe, Electric Worry to get down to some dirty blues, and Unto The Breach at their hardest, face punching best.