Clutch Live: Ritz, Manchester 10-07-13

I woke up this morning sweaty and still tired from the night before, with sore legs from dancing, a hoarse throat from shouting and a really sore neck from head banging.  I felt good.

I fell hard for Clutch and their LP Earth Rocker this year and I leapt at the chance to grab a ticket to see them at Manchester Academy 2 (a small room basically) and never minded when it got upgraded to Manchester Ritz (a bigger room, but still only 1500, or so).  None of my mates were into them and Mrs 1537 was needed back at the Rancho-1537-o, so this is one I went it alone on.

Yup, I was that burly, slightly intense dude standing plumb front and centre last night, nodding his head vaguely in time to the pre-gig music and exuding that certain air of insouciant, inscrutable calm which is so irresistible to all the ladies.  That was me.  Not the sad, loser sweaty bald dude wearing a Flash T-shirt who clearly didn’t have any friends and/or is so socially inadequate that he can only interact with others through the twin mediums of music criticism and Lego.  Nope not me.

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The support was a frighteningly young-looking British band called Sons of Icarus, who were energetic and loud, ploughing a similar groove to Black Spiders but maybe a little more metallic-sounding.  If I had a criticism it would be that they were a bit on the shrill side, but hey, they clearly really enjoyed themselves and their bassist, Alex Masson, had the best range of rock facial expressions I’ve seen in years and years of gig going.

Waiting for the main event I did wonder whether the fact that the only Clutch I knew was the new LP would limit my enjoyment a bit.  I met a pleasant guy who had seen them already on this tour and had the beard and T-shirt to prove it, who told me that the whole set was based around Earth Rocker and also that Blast Tyrant was the next LP to buy.  But I digress, you wanna know what one of my favourite things in the whole world is? it’s when you’re at a gig and the lights go down for the main act.  You really can’t beat that feeling.

Clutch came on after using Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers ‘We Need Some Money’ as an intro, which was a cool-as-hell choice, really setting the groove for what was to follow and you know what? rockers they may be, but Clutch are a seriously groovy band.  The stage at the Ritz isn’t the biggest but they compressed the space, setting the drums up about half-way up the stage – I’m guessing that this is because, Neil Fallon aside, they don’t move around a great deal.  In fact I don’t think that guitarist Tim Sult, or bassist Dan Maines moved more than a foot from their starting positions during the whole set; I like that, it was just straight playing and no show-boating.  Drummer Jean-Paul gaster just pulverizes everything in sight.

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Neil Fallon on the other hand is a really engaging frontman, without saying an awful lot, or being particularly over-the-top.  He just punches his way through each and every song, his reward being an absolutely ecstatic reception from the crowd who refused to wilt in the heat.  I always find Manchester audiences a bit stand-offish, a bit keen on looking cool and posing, not last night they weren’t – every man, woman and blogger was willing to do his/her duty and fight and die for the cause of Clutch.  Which was just as well because Clutch were simply awesome last night.

They opened with ‘Earth Rocker’ and proceeded to play, by my unscientific reckoning, every track off the LP, almost as if it were being done for my benefit.  It was all intense, all very groovy and all-conquering.  My favourite bits were Fallon’s cowbell solo on ‘D.C. Sound Attack!’, the crucial ferocity on ‘Crucial Velocity’ and the change of pace that ‘Gone Cold’ offers – the extra that Neil Fallon adds to the band when he picks up rhythm guitar is instructive, the more guitars the better I say.  A few of the tracks I didn’t know so well such as ‘A Subtle Hustle’ and ‘Regulator’ were fabulous too.  Clutch do just have such a great sound, live you can really hear the hardcore and Fugazi influences on their sound, especially on the faster ones such as ‘Cyborg Bette’ and the awesome ‘Unto The Breach’.

About to give it some cow bell ...
About to give it some cowbell …

I can’t wait to see clutch again and I really would recommend any of you out there who don’t suffer from a rock allergy, make sure you see them too.

After the gig I got to experience my second favourite sensation ever – that bit when you step out of a gig or a nightclub and you hit the cold air when you’re top is a sweaty mess, for about 5 minutes that icy feeling is just incomparable bliss and a half, being the veteran campaigner I am these days I even had a change of T-shirt in the car – smooth.

So there you go that’s why I’m aching, battered and bruised this morning although things were pretty benign down the front.  Dad, desk jockey and vinyl hunter-gatherer I may be, but I’ve walked around with a bit of a secret smile on my face today because deep down inside I know that I’m a Wednesday rocker.

206 Down (still)

P.S – sorry for maintaining radio silence recently, but living real life does get in the way of regular blogging.

8 thoughts on “Clutch Live: Ritz, Manchester 10-07-13

  1. I was there too man…it was a truly epic gig. Waited a long time to see them (I turned down seeing them earlier in the year when they opened for Thin Lizzy…totally regret that decision now). He may not be the most talkative, but Fallon is a titan of a frontman, whereas Tim looks like he’s waiting for the gig to finish so he can go shopping and collect the kids from school!

    Myself and my mate agreed that as much as we want everyone to like Clutch, it’s a blessing to us that they are still only playing small, intimate venues like The Ritz…kind of like a guilty pleasure. You know how awesome the experience is whilst everyone else is oblivious….

    btw…that guy was right, you REALLY need to get hold of Blast Tyrant. Slightly different sounds, but together with Earth Rocker, they are two epic albums.

    1. Hiya mr/mrs/captain/lord/reverend/miss/ baron Hooper, thanks for stopping by my humble home!

      It was an epic gig and you’re dead right about Neil Fallon he’s an unconventional front man, but it just works so well – he is absolutely spellbinding.

      They surprised me by how bluesy-sounding they were.

      Blast Tyrant will be ordered just as soon as I can source the vinyl, that and the Clutch LP too.

      See you front and centre next time they play!

    2. PS – couldn’t agree more about the everyone liking them vs small venue dilemma. Bands are always so much better close up and sweaty.

  2. Excellent stuff. Sounds like an amazing show, and I totally know what you’re talking about, the bit about hitting the cool night air after sweating five years of your life away at a show. Nothing else like it.

    I’m glad your living the dream for the rest of us dad rockers that can’t make it out to play at the moment. Rock on!

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