Clutch might be the hardest-working band in the business. The band is constantly on the road (both stateside and overseas), and has one of the best live shows around. What makes a Clutch show so great?
First, the band follows the advice of Albert Collins when he said, "Get to gettin'."
"Hey hey now! What's that smell? Just like cornbread done too well. What you need, you know I got. So hands up, WHO WANTS TO ROCK?" Thus began the set at The Music Box. Even if you know it's coming, it's great because it gets the crowd involved immediately. The band sure did rock. Which brings me to first point of greatness for the band. Clutch gets to the rock immediately and doesn't let up until the show is over. The members take hardly any time in between songs. If Neil Fallon says something, he keeps it short. Tim Sult and Dan Maines don't ever stop to change instruments. I don't know if they avoid that just to keep the show moving, but it's one of the great things about a Clutch show.
As if it weren't enough that there is barely any time between songs, Clutch seems to believe that the fans should get their money's worth. At this point in their career, it would be easy for the band to get on stage, knock out about ten or twelve songs and say, "Good night now!" But that's not what this band does. At The Music Box, Clutch was about seven songs into the set before playing something from the latest studio album From Beale Street to Oblivion. At that point, Neil said the band was just getting warmed up. I for one didn't doubt him. The band did a tremendous job mixing it up, playing a little something from Clutch (Big News I, Animal Farm, Texan Book of the Dead) The Elephant Riders (Ship of Gold, Dragonfly, The Soapmakers), Blast Tyrant (Profits of Doom, The Mob Goes Wild), Pure Rock Fury, and Heard It All Before. The band even played a tune that Neil called a work in progress. What other band does that? And as is usually the case for Clutch, the songs were peppered with extended jams, guitar, and drum solos.
Another thing that makes a Clutch show great is the fans. Clutch fans are among the most rabid fans I have ever seen. They are really more like fans of a sports team. They are into the show from the word go: pogoing, singing along, and pumping their fists. The best show of support was when the fans demanded an encore. For probably five minutes, they stomped, clapped, and chanted to try and get the band back on stage. I'll say this much. I didn't see a whole lot of people heading for the exits.
I've seen Clutch a fair amount of times now (somewhere between half a dozen and ten) and that alone says something. I keep going back because the band is so awesome live. I know a few truths about a Clutch show. First, the band will rock hard. Check. Second, Neil Fallon's shirt will be more wet than dry. Check. Third, the fans will have a great time. Check. Finally, no one will walk away feeling cheated. Check.
One word about the venue. I had never been to The Music Box before I saw Clutch there. The layout is great. It's a wide-open standing room only place with an elevated stage. The sound and the lighting were good. You can also hang out on the roof between sets, and I have to say that is a nice touch. It was pretty warm inside so it was nice to go for some fresh (for LA) air between bands. However, if you go there planning to drink, make sure you are strapped with cash. A friend of mine paid $7 for a bottled Heineken and premium mixed drinks are $11. That's exorbitant even for LA standards.