Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Dave Burke (Photographer/Live Gig reporter)
If you saw the members of Clutch off stage you probably wouldn’t give them a second look. The four Maryland natives look like any other middle aged guys you might run into at the grocery store or see picking up the kids from school, but maybe that’s part of their appeal. There’s no rock star posturing, just high energy music that rocks hard, but never compromises it’s greasy groove.
With the pending release of their 11th studio album and presumably a tour to follow in the fall of 2015, Clutch embarked on a short Spring tour with co-headliners Mastodon, criss crossing the US in the months of April and May. This spring jaunt brought them to Milwaukee’s Eagles Ballroom at The Rave, a 25,000 square foot, dome ceilinged ballroom built in 1926. This night the stage was actually set up in the center of the ballroom, only utilizing about half large room’s space.
Kicking off the nights festivities was Graveyard, a Swiss blues metal band who’s early 70’s retro sound brings to mind early Pentagram. Having never heard of them I was pleasantly surprised and they seemed to go over well with those that got there early.
Taking the bare bones stage dressed in simple jeans and t-shirts the four members of Clutch opened their set with the heavy funk of “The House That Peterbuilt” from their 1995 self titled sophomore release. Guitarist Tim Sult lulling the audience into a trance with it’s simple but hypnotic riff, creating just the right amount of tension before drummer Jean-Paul Gasture, bassist Dan Maines and vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Neil Fallon came exploding in, sending a roar through the crowd. Over the years the heavy funk groove of the song seems to have been emphasized as compared to the more metal delivery of the recorded version.
While Gasture and Maines are content to occupy their spots at stage right and left for the course of the roughly one hour show, Fallon brings it to the audience, stalking the stage and egging them on to give back all of the energy he’s putting out to them, at times taking on guitar, harmonica and keyboard duties in addition to vocals.
With their hybrid of blues, funk, hard rock and psychedelia Clutch’s music is hard to describe. From song to song it’s a mix of the shuffling blues of ZZ Top, the funk infused aggression of Rage Against The Machine, the organ drenched heaviness of Deep Purple as well as Grunge and “Stoner Rock”. The 2nd song of the night, from the 2001 album of the same name, summed up the show pretty well, “Pure Rock Fury”. The night was a mix of old and new material, treating the excited fans to one as of yet unreleased song and a special guest appearance in the form of tour mate Bill Kelliher of Mastodon, who joined the them onstage for “Texan Book Of The Dead” from their self titled album.
No official name or release date as been announced for the upcoming album, so look for information on it and upcoming tour dates atwww.pro-rock.com