Review by Ivor Whitten for MPM
The Limelight is once again showcasing its ability to cater for the rock and metal genre by hosting a sold out show with the one and only Clutch, and in support was the quirky cultivators of Agri-Metal, The Inspector Cluzo.
Even though many had not heard of The Inspector Cluzo before the Limelight was very full by the time they took to the stage. This idiosyncratic duo, guitarist/vocalist Malcom Lacrouts and drummer/backing vocalist Phil Jourdain, hailing from Gascony are full time organic farmers and the songs showed their agricultural influences.
Which seemed to fit in with Northern Ireland very well, as a lot of those in attendance came from rural areas. Malcom introduced themselves “Hi Guys, we are The Inspector Cluzo and this is our first time here” as the crowd roared in approval, already feeling a kinship with these wonderfully fun looking farmers. And the music they delivered solidified that.
First on their set list was “A Man Oustanding In His Field”, and immediately set up the rest of their set as delivering a jacked-up eruption of soulful blues funk of the classic rock variety. Everyone was immediately taken in by their intense energy and sound.
They may be only a two piece band but their sound and presence was like a full five piece. It felt like they were the long lost rural love child of Tenacious D, as Malcom’s looks and vocal gymnastics just screamed Jack Black. But French. And from a farm.
On they went with “Fishermen”, “Running a family farm is more rock’n’roll than playing rock’n’roll music”, “Saving The Geese” and “The Outsider”. Each song was raw but polished as they stripped back the roots of rock and gave it their own spin. Powerful, entrancing and fun. The now almost full Limelight 1 was rocking out without any hesitation as the crowd had now fully taken these two crazy rock artistes into their hearts.
Malcom’s guitar work and vocals were attention grabbing and toe tapping while Phil’s drumming skills were intricate and mesmerising. Then came “The Answer Activist”, “Rockophobia”, “Hey Hey, My My” (a Neil Young & Crazy Horse cover) and finishing with “Put Your Hands Up”.
The last of which was an utterly spellbinding performance as they got the whole place putting up their hands and clapping along while in time to their heart pounding rhythms and riffs they destroyed the drum set while still playing. Absolutely fantastic and harkened back to the original controlled anger of rock and metal, yet was still refreshing.
After a short wait and onto a very sparse stage came Clutch. Since they formed in 1991, the band line-up has remained unchanged with Tim Sult (lead guitar), Dan Maines (bass), Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), and Neil Fallon (vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards). A rarity nowadays for a band who have been playing together for this long.
By the time they step on stage, the Limelight is at capacity with fans from all over Ireland and the UK who travelled to see this incredibly solid band deliver their brand of blues-based stoner rock. From their first step into the public arena, tonight they completely own the stage and have the full enthusiastic attention of the audience who immediately roar in approval.
They don’t mess about either going almost immediately into “Passive Restraints”, “The Mob Goes Wild”, “X-Ray Visions” and “Firebirds!”. The crowd are immediately going ballistic singing, headbanging, waving their fists and just plainly letting loose in time to the fuzzy, hard hitting, funky hard rock blues.
The whole sound vibrated through the air and floor and you could feel your heart pounding now in time with the sorcery Neil Fallon was spelling out with his grounded, grungy anger infused vocals. The whole band were just fully in tune with each other as if they were connected as one organism. Professional, at ease with each other and pulling off pounding riffs, pumping bass lines, and thumping drums.
Then came “Crucial Velocity”, “Burning Beard”, “We Strive for Excellence”, “The Soapmakers” and “A Quick Death in Texas” that just continued to rouse the crowd in adoration of the Black Sabbathesque stoner metal with a real funk upbeat feel.
They have mastered their corner of the genre and remain unconquered. Next came “The Elephant Riders”, “Cypress Grove”, “Subtle Hustle”, “How to Shake Hands” and “Red Alert” as the crowd heaved and moved in time, singing along with Neil as if in hypnotic veneration. All the while Neil jumps, stands, gesticulates and directs the crowd to his will.
For many this is some serious physical workout as hardly anyone stops as each and every tune pounds from the stage like a sermon to the reverential audience.
Then they dropped a cover of Black Sabbath’s “Lord of This World” which Neil told everyone came about as something they did for their live stream series Doom Saloon, which you can watch again on YouTube. It felt so natural for Clutch it felt almost as it was one of their own songs then finishing their set with “Spacegrass” where Neil showed off his more playful side, as he perfectly pranced around the stage directing moments to people he caught in the crowd.
And with that they left the stage and the impatience for Clutch to reappear was growing. The crowd really wanted their encore and that is indeed what they got. With “The Regulator”, “Pure Rock Fury” and “The Face” the crowd went wild for the last few minutes in order to fully exhaust whatever energy they had left. What a show from start to finish.
Overall, the two bands strangely fit well together as they are both high energy, even if from slightly different angles. Anyone there came away with an absolute understanding why this was a sold out performance. It was raw, pure, real and thoroughly enjoyable on every level.
The Inspector Cluzo are genuine, entertaining, humble, fun and strip rock back to the very roots and well worth seeing whether with other bands or even on their own. Clutch are, well Clutch. They are pure heavy stoner rock with a funkier upbeat blues feel, mesmerising and tribal in their delivery, their performance never disappoints. You owe it to yourself to see them live.
For more information on The Inspector Cluzo check out their website at https://theinspectorcluzo.com/accueil
Check out Clutch and their tour dates at https://www.pro-rock.com/
Photography by MPM