2nd March 2013
The Deaf Institute
Where most bands shout “Yes”, Clinic have always intoned with a resounding “No”. Having recently put out their seventh long-player, Free Reign, and counterpart remix album, the imaginatively titled Free Reign II, the Liverpool band continue to stride in their own awkward and angular direction, as ever unfettered by the pressures of selling records, selling out or settling down and calling it a day.
In comparison to tonight’s support act the excellent Mugstar, Clinic look frankly like spritely novices, however. Post-rock and post-the-age-it-should-be-possible-to-rock-this-hard, Mugstar aren’t going to win many plaudits with today’s 1D-touting generation. Showcasing a distinctly dystopian lightshow, a fierce blend of krautrock, industrial and psychedelia and some ferocious drumming they are more than deserving of note here.
With the venue filled with an audience befitting no particular demographic, the giant disco ball spinning from the ceiling and Clinic clad in their usual stage attire (surgeons’ scrubs and face masks), the stage almost looks set for some bizarre and very avant-garde horror flick. Alas, the band quickly dispel this notion, launching into a set that includes several choice cuts from the last album and a number of ‘old favourites’ (if Clinic qualify as a band where you could have such a thing). Songs such as the urgent ‘IPC Subeditors Dictate Our Youth’ and ‘See Saw’ definitely benefit from an airing in the live arena, the latter’s clarinet enveloping the room, where on the album, it simply hoots brashly.
Clinic specialise in that head-nodding style of ‘60s grooves and riffage, but played in their own eccentric manner. On songs like ‘Lion Tamer’ and ‘Children of Kellogg’, this translates very well, though it does become repetitive and a little trite on others. Further, it’s a shame that tonight’s set omits the haunting ‘Misty’. That, however, leaves their signature ‘Walking with Thee’ to be received with some aplomb, as the band deliver a scintillating encore.