Live Review: Clutch - Live At The Doom Saloon
27th May 2020
Support. Crowbar, Blacktop Mojo, Saul
Review Tim Finch.
It seems like an age since I wrote about live music, over two and a half months in fact when checking. Since then the world has changed, hopefully temporarily, and maybe soon live music will return. In the meantime a smattering of bands have been performing live sets on services like Youtube, Facebook live and even Instagram. It's been a nice break from the experience of lock-down but so far none of them have really matched the experience of seeing three or four bands in a small, sweaty club on a Saturday night.
Tonight Clutch step up to the plate with something a little different still. Using the 'Live From' platform they have put a full show together featuring Saul, Blacktop Mojo, and New Orleans kings of heavy Crowbar! The paid event just $9.99 (roughly £7.50 to us Brits) not only brought the live music experience back from the dead somewhat, but also managed to raise money to help to COVID-19 relief efforts.
Much as with any real live show, a few technical issues delayed the start. Starting a fashionably 25 minutes late, Saul took to the stage from their lock-down bunker. A full light show in effect as the progressive modern metallers kicked off their short 25 minute set. Elements of metalcore soaked in technical wizardry throughout and sitting in contrast to tonight's headliners.
Second act of the evening are Texan's Blacktop Mojo performing from their Fort Worth studio base. "The only concert you can attend naked" announces frontman Matt James, cutting a foreboding figure centre stage, his look.. that of Tormund Giantsbane... but his vocals are powerful, hard hitting and delivered to perfection. The blues rock outfit alter pace and feeling throughout a majestic set. Melodic, blues driven rock and metal. Beautifully delivered guitar solos cutting through the rocking set. The only thing brighter than Matt's Hawaiian shirt are bassists Catt Murtis' turquoise Nike High-tops, but for me this set was a perfect introduction to a band I will looking to get to know further.
Kings of heavy, Crowbar, ramped the pressure up a notch next. The gruff voice of Kirk Windstein rasps through the air as the heavy riffs roll forth. A battering ram of sound, never flamboyant or manic on stage, this is an outright heavy assault. The forty minute set spans the bands career and highlights the strength of Kirk's years of writing sludge perfection. Opening with sludge behemoth 'Planets Collide', the set highlighted with 'Like Broken Glass', and left me missing live music even more. Hopefully soon they will be back in the UK.
Headliners Clutch close off this colossal live stream, from their rehearsal room space - The Doom Saloon in Philadelphia. Their previous forays into Youtube sets have spanned three songs and 15 minutes, tonight however is different, this is a full on Clutch show kicked off by 'Who Want's To Rock?'.
You know exactly what you are getting with a Clutch show, no frills rock and fucking roll and as the set progresses, the energy flows and the audience is transported back into that live arena. 'The Soapmakers' a very welcome addition to the setlist, played only thirteen times live by the band in 2019, it's the personification of Clutch's song writing abilities. This leads into a flurry of crowd favourites... 'The Regulator', 'Firebirds!', 'Unto The Breach' and the majestic 'Electric Worry'. The crowd went wild... and so did Neil Fallon... who will forget that close up image of him screaming "FIREBIRDS!" into the camera any time soon?
As the set winds down the magic of a Clutch shows maintains its pace. An impromptu cover of Cactus' 'Evil' is followed by show closer 'In Walks Barbarella'.
These types of shows will never replace the feeling we fans get of being in the same room as hundreds/thousands of like minded people getting our rocks off to our favourite tunes. But whilst restrictions remain in place, Clutch have mastered the next best thing. If we can't get back outdoors any time soon, let us hope Clutch roll out one or two more of these.