Wednesday, December 7th, 2005
The Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC Canada
**Review & All Live Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
The Mob Goes Wild!
For anyone who is a Clutch fan, seeing the band play not one, but TWO, 75-minute sets would be akin to a kid being let loose in a candy store. The Vancouver show was sold out, or very close, and the rabid crowd was pumped for what was to come. The Virginia-based rockers never disappoint and their loyal (dare I say, “cult”) following equals that of bands like The Grateful Dead, Slipknot and KISS (bet you never thought you’d read those names all in the same sentence!!). It has been twelve years since TRANSNATIONAL SPEEDWAY was released but their latest, ROBOT HIVE/EXODUS could very well be the definitive Clutch album. Two blues covers conclude a winding trip through obscure lyrical references and brilliant stompers like “10001110101” and “Burning Beard.” The band’s inclusion on this past summer’s Sounds of The Underground tour was, ahem, interesting and their music really did not suit that audience. The long, blues-based jams left many heading for the exits and failed to impress me either within that context, however this two set outing was just what the doctor ordered.
Vocalist Neil Fallon, whose facial hair would allow him to moonlight with ZZ Top, is an oddball lyricist using words like “haruspex,” “dodecahedron” and “basilisk” in the songs. Not exactly your typical “T&A”-type tracks, to say the least. Fallon’s spastic gesturing and wild-eyed glares are a bit off-putting and the band’s well-documented love for all things green, leafy and smokeable certainly answer where the singer draws his inspiration from but one cannot deny that Clutch knows how to groove, rock and ultimately deliver the goods. Fallon isn’t the most charismatic frontman but there is just something about him that is very…commanding. Guitarist Tim Sult works the distortion pedal like he’s cruising the Autobahn and his solos and riffs really crunch. “Profits of Doom” and “Texan Book of the Dead” were made all that much better by Sult’s six-string bending. Jean-Paul Gaster pulled out a simple, yet impressive drum solo complete with jazz-influenced fills, while his solid backbeat with Dan Maines, most notably on “The Mob Goes Wild,” thundered through the venue. The addition of Mick Schauer on organ gives many of the songs a southern feel and Schauer even nailed a solo after “Brazenhead” that had me thinking I was in church. “The Incomparable Mr. Flannery,” “Burning Beard” and “10001110101” from the new CD are even better in the live setting, while older chestnuts like “Rock ‘n Roll Outlaw” and “El Jefe Speaks” still pack all the punch of the originals. Medleys and lengthy jams on tracks like “Cypress Grove” (with road crew member, Brad, on second guitar) appeased the fans although their screams for obscure tracks like “Willie Nelson” and “Animal Farm” went unheard. Still, no one could be disappointed with Clutch’s performance. This was like night and day from the Sounds of The Underground show and the punks, metalheads and hackey-sack crowd mingled peacefully, no doubt due to the ever-present haze of pot smoke that wafted overhead.
Two and a half hours of Clutch was superseded by a unique performance from William Elliott Whitmore, a heavily-tattooed banjo-playing blues artist from “the shores of the Mississippi.” Whitmore’s gravelly voice and simple but riveting stage presence left many people whooping for more, including myself, before promptly heading over to the merch table to pick up his latest CD, ASHES TO DUST. Fans of Tom Waits will wet themselves over Whitmore’s croaking croon and storytelling lyrics. Very cool and a complete surprise.
Clutch seems to have carved themselves a very comfortable niche in music. They don’t sell a lot of records, yet are able to play sold-out shows night after night and people live and die by their sound of blues/stoner/rock/metal. Not many bands are able to appeal to that varied of an audience but going into their thirteenth year and riding high on the brilliance of ROBOT HIVE/EXODUS, expect Clutch to continue making the mob go wild for years to come.
CLUTCH SET #1
The Incomparable Mr. Flannery
The Yeti/Big News I/Raised By Horses/Big News II (Medley)
Profits of Doom
The Mob Goes Wild
~15 MINUTE BREAK~
CLUTCH SET #2
A Shotgun Named Marcus
El Jefe Speaks
Brazenhead/Mick’s Solo/Rock ‘n Roll Outlaw/Texan Book of The Dead (Medley)
Escape From The Prison Planet
Land of Pleasant Living
The Swollen Goat
Who’s Been Talking?
**Thanks to Erin at Timbre Productions for the press pass.
Visit Clutch’s official website
Visit William Elliott Whitmore’s page at Southern Records