There are few certainties left in this world.. however the band Clutch just happens to be part of two of them. 1) They put on a great show for their audiences and 2) They usually play aspectacular end of the year show in NJ at the Starland Ballroom. Clutchmas this year was actually a 3 night event happening in three different states: NC, NJ and then finishing up in Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve.Lucky for me that I was able to be there for this year’s CLUTCHMAS concert in NJ.
The night began for me with Damon Johnson, who by name I was not familiar with. However he was the singer and guitarist for the band 90’s southern rock inspired Brother Cane who had some popularity with the tune “And Fools Shine On” which was amongst his short set. He also made mention of the fact that he was honored and lucky enough to be able to play with Thin Lizzy and more recently Black Star Riders and kicked into an old classic Thin Lizzy song “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed”. The crowd seemed to be a bit unfamiliar with the tune, but still seemed interested as it’s actually quite a good song. Damon’s set was a bit short as he was the opening act of the evening.
The Steel Woods were the next band on the stage, an interesting choice as direct support for Clutch this evening. The band quietly stepped up to the microphone and began playing their own brand of Southern Country rock. Their set did not start out with a big rocking number but rather the laid back “Rock That Says My Name”. The crowd seemed to enjoy it though. Almost as if the bands slower paced music was a nice respit for what was to come. Though the band’s songs weren’t well known by the audience they did manage to kick into a rawcous version of the Allman Brothers’ classic “Whipping Post” which mid-set seemed to be a nice shot for the crowd to get ready for what was to come later…That being Clutch.
Clutch’s shows have become almost legendary. Not for anything gimmicky either. Clutch is good ol’fashioned blue-collar rock. Four guys on stage playing their music for their audience. All killer, no filler. They are and should be the standard for entertainment. Hit the stage, start playing and leave it all out there for the audience. No crazy light show needed, no pyro- let the music do the talking.
This night was no different. Hitting the stage with “We Need Some Money” playing through the speakers, it was obvious that Clutch was here to play. Kicking right into “Passive Restraints” the crowd just soaked up the boundless amounts of energy that front man Neil Fallon expelled. Following that up with “X-Ray Visions” and “Firebirds” the band found their groove early and were all systems go from the very start.
Guitarist Tim Sult and Dan Maines maintained almost the same poses all evening focussing solely on the music and not any sort of crazy stage antics. Drummer John-Paul Gaster was even the receipient of a “J-P-G!” chant a few times during the evening. Acknowledging the crowd with a hand wave with his stick, all the while keeping a steady groove on the skin. But the main focus is the music, and Neil’s precision vocal delivery.
With a setlist which included such classics as “Spacegrass” and “A Shogun Named Marcus” which were mainstays on WSOU back in the day. Probably playing one of the best setlists I’ve heard them do in a long time, the band foreyed back and forth into some slower tunes and then went right back into heavier and faster tempoed songs.
Songs from the album Blast Tyrant were not played this night as the band was going to be doing that entire album during a New Year’s Eve bash the next evening in Philadelphia. However for their encore, they did end the show with the song that the one and only Lemmy Kilmister once regarded as their ‘Ace of Spades’, Electric Worry to the crowd’s approval, along with their newly released CCR cover of Fortunate Son.
As I said, seeing Clutch is an experience, a master-class on how a band should and CAN rock the house.
Clutch have some Australian and European gigs coming up this year. Check out the gig dates below:
Fri. 3/20 – Download Festival in Melbourne, Australia
Sat. 3/21- Download Festival in Sydney, Australia
Tue. 7/21- Limelight Festival in Belfast, United Kingdom
Wed. 7/22- The Academy in Dublin, Ireland
Fri. 7/25- Metal Days in Tolmin, Slovenia
Tue. 8/4- Capitolio in Lisbon, Portugal
Sun. 8/16- Kulturbolaget in Malmo, Sweden
Tue. 8/18- Grona Lund in Stockholm, Sweden
Wed. 8/19- Rockefeller Sentrum Scene in Oslo, Norway
For tickets and further information on any of the Clutch gigs listed above, click here.
Fans can find CLUTCH at the following locations: