I went to go see Clutch live at Cardiff Great Hall Sunday 16th June 2019. It was my first concert since the birth of my son, I didn’t want to be away from him too long, so skipped the opening act and got their late.
The support band I did manage to see was Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons; a band with Phil Campbell from Motorhead and three of his sons (and then a singer). They were quite decent, playing mixed tempo rock songs. A few speedy numbers, a few mid-paced rockers and one fun slow song with a stoner rock vibe. They also covered ‘Born To Raise Hell’ and ‘Ace Of Spades.’ This marks the second time I’ve seen a Motorhead member play Ace Of Spades with a different band (I saw Fast Eddie Clarke supporting Saxon previously). I kind of feel bad but like when Diamond Head played ‘Am I Evil?’ versus new songs, the audience reaction was so much more enthusiastic for the Motorhead tunes versus the origional tunes, as was my own. Not being disrespectful, but Motohead tunes are Motorhead tunes. Still, I liked their own material fair enough too, it was a fun warm up and I don’t have anything to say about the band. I feel they would really suit touring with Orange Goblin.
Usually at a gig in the long wait between bands I have no-one to talk to, but this time my brother wanted to see Clutch too, so I had someone to speculate on setlists with a discuss the new album and favourite songs with during the wait.
Because its Clutch, not someone violent and heavy, I decided to stay at the back and just nod along having a good time rather than get into the thick of it. This venue is good in that you can see the band just as well from the back wall behind the sound desk as you can in the middle of the room. I did the same thing for Mastodon the first time I was at this venue, just sit back and watch the band without getting too sweaty.
Clutch are one of those bands that literally do not play the same set two nights in the row, and any night you can hear different songs. Sometimes they even don’t play their most well known songs. Some days they play mostly new stuff, some times they play mostly old stuff, some times anything can happen. The setlist yesterday was an eclectic grab bag of all eras. They opened with a deep cut off their self titled ‘90s classic sophomore album. ‘Escape From The Prison Planet.’ They played a few tracks off their furious and outrageously fun modern album, Psychic Warfare, They played a respectable amount of material from their new album, they dropped in ‘Red Horse Rainbows’ from Pure Rock Fury for the first time since 2011, and even played some rare material like ‘Willie Nelson’ from their B Sides album and the really early track ‘Passive Restraints.’
Luckily, even amongst the eclecticism they got to play what I feel is their most well known song (I may be wrong, they’re not exactly a one hit wonder) ‘The Mob Goes Wild’ which is one of my favourite songs by anyone, ever, of all time. Seeing it live is not a guarantee. Its not like Metallica and Enter Sandman where you know its going to be there, so it was very fun to get to see it once again. Also; they played my favourite song from the new album, the outrageously fun ‘How To Shake Hands.’ My throat is still sore from how loud I sang along to ‘’First thing that I’m gonna do is go for a ride on a UFO.’’ I am sure I’m not the only one either, the room utterly loved it, the energy in the crowd was immense.
Other highlights include a bouncy rendition of ‘Ghoul Wrangler’ with its amusing pest-control-against-lawyers lyrics, (any band can make a lawyers-are-ghouls comparison, but only Clutch are creative enough to have a snowy barn infested with them as the owner gets his pest control business certified and bonded), an interesting take on blues classic ‘Evil’ (also covered by Monster Magnet) and the title track from Psychic Warfare, which I never previously realised was a massive hit, but which the crowd utterly salivated over. The volume of the singalongs was extra loud on that one!
The performance from the band was great. The solos and fills were superb. The vocals so character-filled and colourful. The gesturing and acting out of the lyrics live by singer Neil Fallon so enthusiastic and powerful. The guitar tone was often better than the albums. The mix was pretty perfect with nothing inaudible and nothing over-loud.
It was also just so fun to turn around every few seconds and share with other fans some golden gem of a lyric, drum fill or guitar part. You’d lock eyes with someone else air-guitaring the intro to ‘Electric Worry’ or air drumming the floor tom parts to ‘Gimmie The Keys’ or singing with a grin on their face countless memorable lyrics.
‘Just a glass of water and a ham sandwich,’ or ‘Everybody move to Canada,’ or ‘Weaponized Funk,’ or ‘He said I have seen them, I said ok its yours!’ and so on and so on. Clutch songs and albums are absolutely littered with enough memorable moments to fill a greatest hits album of most bands. Having a whole concert full of them is just joyous.
I had an uproariously good time, the band were fantastic, (and I didn’t have to travel half way around the country away from the baby). I could have happily wathced them play two more hours and still not heard all I wanted to hear from them. Brilliant band, brillaint night.
I cannot recommend seeing Clutch live highly enough. The band write superb music, they play it brilliantly live and the setlist is a roulette where anything can happen, but its always good.