Clutch are a strange band live. Watching them play, they should, at least in theory, be boring. Apart from Fallon there isn’t much by way of movement or big “rockstar” stances, yet they are easily one of the most entertaining live bands on the circuit today.
There are one or two complaints I need to make before getting onto the good stuff, the good stuff being Clutch.
Complaint the first: It was far too busy downstairs. Often when gigs don’t sell all that well, venues ship the upstairs people downstairs and make all tickets bought on the door downstairs standing. Common practise. It seems to be what happened tonight; unfortunately it had still sold quite well. This led to massive jams on the stairs as queues of stubborn Glasgwegians battled to step supremacy, some wanted up, others down, the rest wanted to just stand there (or like me, got stuck in the middle. It definitely felt like a small section of the curtained off upstairs could have been left open to ease the pressure.
Complaint the second: Painfully quiet sound. I don’t know if this was the venue or not, but when you can hear the guy near you talking it could be time to turn those drums up.
Now that I’ve stopped being a petulant child, let’s talk about Clutch!
If there’s ever been a day Clutch haven’t brought it, I haven’t heard about it. While the initial explosion of X-Ray Visions is lessened slightly by the quiet sound, the sight of the glorious beard of the Fallon and his eerily commanding stage presence (it’s the manic eyes, I’m sure of it) is enough to energise everyone into action.
The pit area promptly turned into an ice rink with spilled drinks and proceeded to get “icier” through the eighteen song set. The latest album got heavily represented, with eight songs finding their way into the set. It was good to see the songs received well, there’s nothing worse than when the crowd shuts down during a new song.
It’s a bit of an old cliché to say some songs feel like they’re written for live performance (I’ve definitely written that shit before), but you get the feeling Psychic Warfare is one of those albums. They sound great on record, but live they really come into their own.
Not forgetting Earth Rocker, they also pull out four or five songs from the previous album. Though surprisingly this doesn’t include the title track itself. It speaks for the song writing of Clutch, if you visit setlist.fm you’ll notice that only six songs out of the eighteen song set are from albums older than 2013. A fact the crowd seems not to care about, there’s energy, there’s singing, there’s a lack of demands to play “old song” all the time.
Actually, that’s a lie. A pretty convincing chant for Willie Nelson sparks up and for a second it looks like the band are about to oblige before moving onto the next track.
Burning Beard gets one of the biggest responses of the night, other than the obvous Mob Goes Wild, however it takes a while for some of the audience to catch on to the tune with the intro being mudded over the speakers.
The highlight of the set for my money was easily Soapmakers though. It’s one of my favourite Clutch songs and I had never seen it live before, that has now been corrected. There’s just something about the slow stomping groove of a live Clutch song that separates them from the herd. There are many bands like Clutch, but none are close.
Despite the 02, there isn’t a world in which seeing Clutch perform their songs live is a bad thing. Sure there were some other niggles, such as a couple members of the crowd shoving people in the small of their back into the pit and a burning desire to urinate which is my own fault, but they can’t dampen the spirits of a live Clutch gig. Considering they tour all the time, I look forward to next years show already.