A Clutch concert is always a quasi-religious experience, and last night was ideal for such a church service. It’s become an annual tradition in Pittsburgh for Clutch to swing by for an evening of worship, a fall classic if you will. And you will. Rock that is, by the will of iconically bearded electric evangelist Neil Fallon and his murder of crows. This having been my seventh Clutch show, I found the set to be somewhat subdued, the wintry weather seeming to have cooled the band’s fury somewhat, but not too much, racing encore cut “X-Ray Visions” acting as a second wind for these aces of bizarro hard rock. The setlist was heavy on the last three albums, particularly Book of Bad Decisions, the latest record. However there was time for classics such as “The Elephant Riders,” eerie acid trip “Spacegrass,” and the lurching “Escape From The Prison Planet.”
Sevendust went on before Clutch, dazzling the sizeable Sunday night crowd with their rhythmic, funkadelic, grunge-fueled alternative metal. Excellent frontman Lajon Witherspoon displayed his muscular heavy metal James Brown moves with a vocal and physical agility that matched the stuttering, streetwise swagger of his crew of rock mechanics. They served as a bridge between decades, leading us from the hoary past into the present, and from there, the snake-handling headliners.
Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown were a nice, expertly performed pastiche of hard seventies blues rock, touching on Muddy Waters, Led Zeppelin, and Black Sabbath equally, their pretty boy frontman stealing hearts with his soulful vocals and axe prowess. They did nothing new, celebrating and reinterpreting classic rock for Millenials and Gen Xers, and there ain’t a thing wrong with that. If I had a complaint, it was that their set was a little long and overindulgent. But then again, such was that bombastic era, which Clutch keeps alive also.
I’m running out of superlatives, metaphors, and analogies for Clutch concerts. I’ve said that they’re akin to revival meetings, Neil Fallon serving as a paranoid, unhinged pastor, sermonizing about aliens, werewolves, reptilians, and conspiracies. Quite the bizarre frontman, one begins to think he just may well levitate as he spasms and nearly speaks in tongue, his microphone becoming a venomous serpent he took up for a fallen angel.
The rest of the band always has Reverend Fallon’s back, that league of bluesy, funky, hard rock hitmen staying out of way, lying in wait in their own grassy little knolls, hidden in plain sight, flawlessly picking and thwacking away, outsmarting and outclassing grunge in their own manner.
Clutch do not compare to any other act despite drinking from the same well that so many others do. Get saved next time their traveling salvation show comes to town.