Maryland hard rock band Clutch is coming up on their 20th year, maintaining a consistent following with constant touring, unique wit, and fearless tendency to mix metal with genres like blues and funk. Much of the band's direction and personality is thanks to Neil Fallon, Clutch's singer, co-songwriter and lyricist who is known for weaving historical, literary and downright nerdtastic references into his hard-banging songs--as he told the Austin American-Statesman in August, "I'm reading all of the Hugo and Nebula [science fiction award] winners in sequential order."
Clutch is currently touring in support of ninth LP "Strange Cousins from the West," which was released in July and peaked at No. 38 on the Billboard 200, the band's top showing to date on the album charts. The Oct. 9 show was the first of two dates at New York's Irving Plaza, and came on the heels of an appearance the Austin City Limits festival in Texas on Oct. 4.
The band kicked things off with "50,000 Unstoppable Watts," the first single from "Cousins" and anthemic in its "Anthrax, ham radio, and liquor" refrain. The high-energy singalong might have been better placed later in the set after some momentum had built, but it was a strong start as a gathering call. Other songs brought out from the new record included the tight and rhythmic "Struck Down" and "Abraham Lincoln," an intense march in three-four time about the assassination of our 16th president.
Fallon proved his command of a crowd with songs like "Burning Beard" from 2005's "Robot Hive/Exodus," in which the frontman turned preacher-esque in dynamism and cadence, working everyone up over the Holy Ghost and cow-tipping. The band detoured at one point into a five-minute, wordless, jazz/funk/psych jam, before Chris Brooks of opening band Lionize joined on keyboards for a funk-heavy performance of "10001110101". The room hit the appropriate level of chaos with main set closer "The Mob Goes Wild," a hit from 2004's "Blast Tyrant".
The band's energy took a bit of time to build over the course of the show, but by the time they returned for encores "Escape from the Prison Planet" and "Spacegrass," the collective lyric-shouting and arm-flailing was on high.
Clutch is touring in Europe through November, and will close out the year with North American dates through December.
Here is Clutch's set list:
"50,000 Unstoppable Watts"
"The House that Peterbilt"
"Strange Cousins from the West"
"The Devil & Me"
"Child of the City"
"Let a Poor Man Be"
"The Mob Goes Wild"
"Escape from the Prison Planet"