Clutch

support Hark
author AP date 03/02/13 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

Only my third concert this year, and I'm already through two of my most anticipated ones this year. This time the honor of railing up my expectations befell to Clutch, whose previous, and allegedly unforgettable performance in Denmark at the late Rock I managed to somehow miss. No such misstep was going to be acceptable this time, so I conquered my hangover and braved the sleet-storm outside to make my way toward Amager Bio, my personal expectations through the roof.

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Hark

Though there are nuggets of promise to be heard in the music of Hark, a Welsh quartet practicing in the doom/sludge metal genre, their set passes by without much fanfare. This is perhaps owing in at least some part to the enormous expectations the crowd, myself included, seems to have for Clutch's return to Danish pastures; but even so, the slow, and relatively anonymous compositions the band has assembled into a setlist for us tonight bode few, if any moments of true brilliance. Think trudging pace; think a heavy low-end sound; think extreme volume. These are the tools with which Hark hopes to win over an audience still in the process of spilling into the venue; and save for the occasional tasty riff or dreamy instrumental section, there really is very little value to this performance. Vocalist/guitarist Jimbob Isaac waits until the end of the second last song for his hello-and-thank-you, which is as much intimacy or interaction we have, and are to get from this group, whose sole preference seems to be to stand on stage and hammer their way through one solid, if unimpressive sludge song after another. Decent, but nothing to rave about.

6

Neil Fallon of Clutch worshipping the audience

Clutch

It comes as somewhat of a surprise to me that Clutch are not actually firing on all cylinders during their first song, "Pure Rock Fury". No indeed, it takes these blues rock veterans several minutes to grind into a confident groove, and to sort out the mix issues plaguing that song at first. But on the following personal favorite of mine, "The Mob Goes Wild", the quartet is well and truly back in business, and preparing for another showing that should guarantee their status as the undisputed masters of this style of music.

Why is it so? Well, for one thing, Neil Fallon is an absolutely breathtaking vocalist, both by his singing ability and his profession as an entertainer of the highest caliber. With his Elvis Presley stylings and gruff barks, it takes exactly one second for Fallon to send shivers through what appears to be a sold out venue at this point - the kind that enable us to accept the much less extroverted demeanor of Tim Sult on lead guitar and Dan Maines on bass guitar. These two, particularly Sult, emanate their own charm by virtue of really submerging themselves in their riffs, solos and licks. But it is Fallon and his energetic companion behind the drumkit, Jean-Paul Gaster, who steal the show with their irresistible charm, swagger and panache. Fallon appears genuinely impressed when he tells us that this is - by far - the biggest show on the Earth Rocker Tour thus far, and politely thanks us for the strong turnout despite this being no ordinary Sunday night given the Super Bowl taking place later.

Tim Sult of Clutch focusing...

The trouble with bands like Clutch, who have decades of experience and countless albums to pick and mix from, tends to be that they simply have too many classics to condense into a single night's setlist. Thus it is hardly a surprise if everyone is missing a personal favorite (that would be "Spleen Merchant" for me). But look at that setlist nonetheless: it's one banging hit after another, with the likes of "Burning Beard", "Profits of Doom" and "Electric Worry" in particular making a strong impression. The band does have a new album underway in "Earth Rocker" of course, so we are treated to a number of picks from that as well - and if you weren't already stoked about it, then I can tell you that the songs "Cyborg Betty", "Crucial Velocity", "Earth Rocker", "Unto the Breach" and "Gone Cold" will drop your jaw on the floor. These songs follow the usual riff-tastic, heavy blues rock approach that Clutch has perfected and become renowned for, just with even more purpose.

When this night - one of the longest on the tour in terms of the number of songs performed - comes to an end through an encore featuring "Gravel Road", "A Shogun Named Marcus" and fan favorite "The Regulator", only one feeling seems to resonate throughout the venue: that was one hell of a concert. That Fallon promises they'll be back this summer, or at least in the Fall if all goes to hell, is a welcome teaser as well. Maybe Roskilde Festival or Copenhell will facilitate their return?

Setlist:

  • Pure Rock Fury
  • The Mob Goes Wild
  • Immortal
  • Child of the City
  • Cyborg Betty (new song)
  • Crucial Velocity (new song)
  • The Soapmakers
  • Burning Beard
  • Earth Rocker (new song)
  • Unto the Breach (new song)
  • Profits of Doom
  • Subtle Hustle
  • (Notes from the Trial of) La Curandera
  • The Elephant Riders
  • Gone Cold (new song)
  • Electric Worry

--Encore--

  • Gravel Road
  • A Shogun Named Marcus
  • The Regulator

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