- Neil Fallon (vocals, rhythm guitar)
- Tim Sult (lead guitar, backing vocals)
- Dan Maines (bass, backing vocals)
- Jean-Paul Gaster (drums and percussion)
On Dec 28th, Clutch once again brought the full fury of their funky, toe tapping, hard rocking rhythm of over two decades to the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio. After almost a year’s hiatus from the area, returning to a completely SOLD out venue. There were more than a handful of fans who missed the bus, combing the line out front prior to the show trying to score last minute tickets from anyone they could. Learning the hard way that it really is the early bird that catches the worm.
Clutch brings a very unique look and sound to the scene. They’re not pretty boys, and they’re certainly not glamorous, they don’t have any extravagant sets or props, but what they bring to the table is raw and rock solid, and the way they bring it is aggressive, powerful and in your face. Unlike many tour performances today where fans get the same show in LA that they would in Cincinnati or Cleveland, Clutch bring a fresh experience to every performance, rarely if ever will Clutch perform the same set list twice, so each show; each venue; is a fresh and unique experience. Clutch’s mix of blues-inspired hard-rock-reggae appeals to very broad audiences (regardless of musical preference) and a dance groove that is so catchy and so addictive, that it is all but impossible to resist the foot stomping urge to move around to the beats.
Taking the stage in their typical and well known “happy-hour, let’s go have a beer after work” attire. Singer Neil Fallon effortlessly commands the stage arms flailing in sudden, irregular and jerky moves in complete contrast to lead ax-man Tim Sult; who generally maintained an almost completely fixed position throughout the entire set, while shredding out the rough and crunchy rhythms that bring the unique sound of Clutch alive.
As the crowd clapped and danced to the irresistible beats and toe tapping tempos laid down by Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster in between Tim Sult’s monumental guitar riffs and bassist Dan Maines unrelenting bass line grooves. Tim’s guitar sounded a little heavier, with a little more distortion than in the past, which appears to be part of the new direction for the band. Judging from the shouts and cheers from the crowd, it is obvious that the fans approve of this new, heavier sound.
Touring in support of the band’s latest album release “Earth Rocker” which the group maintains is focused on more of a hard rock sound then much of their earlier work. It was very apparent that the guys have a lot of confidence in this latest studio effort, playing an unprecedented 5 tracks off the new album. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the fans didn’t miss a beat on the set, not only singing and shouting along to the classics but also to every single one of the new tracks. Something that did not escape singer Neil Fallon’s attention, pausing throughout the set to thank the fans for their support on several occasions, and remarking once that,
Bringing the set to ear piercing, fist pumping close, which included the 1998 smash “Elephant Riders” it quickly became apparent that the fans just simply were not ready to turn it in and call it a night. Upon leaving the stage, one fan remarked, “They could play a whole another set with all the great songs they didn’t get to play!!” What was only a few moments, but what seemed like eternity, the shouts and chants from the audience enticed the guys back on stage. After showing their admiration and appreciation for the fans one more time, they exploded into an aggressive four song encore which included one more track off the new album and an ultimate fan favorite “Electric Worry”. The crowd responded in kind, fist flying in the air, people dancing to the groove and shouting out every word along with Neil.
Clutch put on a simply amazing show that night. It was loud, it was gritty, and of course it was heavy metal groovy!! The crowd? The crowd was polite, overwhelmingly bearded and rowdy as hell!!
Clutch has certainly reached legendary status with the fans, nearly 25 years after the first Clutch EP release “Pitchfork”, in which time Clutch has released 10 full length studio records, several rarities and live releases, all the while maintaining the original line up for over two decades. Be sure to check out their latest release “Earth Rocker” if you haven’t already, it promises to be just a little different and just a little harder than previous releases. As the current tour winds up in mid January the band has plans of hitting the studio again to start work on their next release, be sure to check out the band links below for more information and keep an eye out for that new release in 2015.
You can visit the official CLUTCH website, pro-rock.com for complete tour listings and band updates. And on behave of myself and Zombie Tapdance Productions we would like to thank the CLUTCH PR Team, who stuck with us after a list mix up at the HOB box office, we were able to contact the PR Team and get everything worked out so that ZTPMAG could bring you the coverage of this legendary band and some shots of their crowd pleasing performance. Thanks for sticking with us and making this happen!!!
The guys from Clutch were not the only “Rock Stars” in Cleveland that night….
Seems worthy of mention that later that night, having traveled from out of town to cover the Clutch performance, I booked a room at the Wyndam on Playhouse Square, just down the street from the venue to rest up for the night before heading back to Columbus, OH. Around 2 am I woke up to an awful smell of burning plastic, after a quick look around the room I initially dismissed it as nothing serious and attempted to return to bed, but as the smell grew increasing stronger I decided to take another look around the room, when I opened the curtains on the window I found it completely blanketed out with smoke. I immediately woke up both my partner and my 8 year old son, who came along with me on this particular trip, and headed for the stairs and emergency exit.
The Cleveland Fire Department was already on the scene by the time we hit the street and with camera in hand I began snapping some shots. Special shout out to the Cleveland Fire Department crews for their incredibly fast response and making quick work of the situation. As well as the very kind firefighter who noticed my son with me and offered to let him sit in the Ambulance to warm up if he was cold!! The fire was quickly brought under control and the all clear was given shortly afterwards that it was safe to return to our room. There were no injuries and all was well in the end. The Cleveland Fire Department were definitely “Rock Stars” on this night as well as every other night.