From Beale Street To Oblivion
Live review from The Underground, Reno, NV May, 22. 2007
Fans of this site will remember our feature on Clutch back in issue #61. At the time they were on the road promoting their Robot hive/ Exodus long-player, which we still agree was their most cohesive album to date. Two years later they return with a tremendous addition to an already stunning portfolio of work entitled From Beale Street To Oblivion. The jury was still out as to weather this new beast could hold weight to “Exodus” - that was until the band’s stopover at the Underground Tavern in dusty ol’ Reno.
The true sign of a band’s comfort level is in the quality of their openers - those they pick to warm up the audience. Clutch nailed it when they brought in Year Long Disaster and Backyard Tire Fire. The first band, Year Long Disaster is creating a huge buzz with their pedigree alone. Daniel Davies (son of Kinks’ Dave Davies) strikes one monster riff after another and with his Robert Plant-like vocals puts the sex back in rock n’ roll. Bassist Rich Mullins (Karma To Burn, Speedealer) stalks the stage, thumping as he goes in time with Brad Hargreaves (Third Eye Blind) heavy drumming. As a three piece these guys were unstoppable blowing through a 30-minute set like it was vapor. Heads were still turning when Backyard Tire Fire took the stage in support of their current Vagabonds and Hooligans release and injected their southern rock charm into an already soaked crowd.
With the Maryland state flag hanging as a backdrop, Clutch took full advantage of the sweaty foreplay and launched into their best tracks from Beale Street. “You Can’t Stop Progress” and the guitar-driven “Power Player” got the floor bouncing. Known for their gospel/blues stoner rock, the Maryland five-piece proved they’ve come along way since their rudimentary roots as an angry Faith No More/Zeppelin/Sabbath bar band. Moving Tim Sult’s guitar to the forefront has made them a serious force to be reckoned with. Combine that with Mick Schauer’s B3 Hammond and the harmonica playing of Five Horse Johnson’s Eric Oblander and you have a serious rock show. Like a modern-day Canned Heat, songs like the lumbering “Big News I and II” (from Clutch ’95) have the band running on all six with vocalist Neil Fallon doing his best preacher meets prophet Muddy Waters delivery.
Never one to play the same set list twice in a row, they mix it up getting through the first half of Beale Street then on to Blast Tyrant including the steel traditional blues of “The Regulator” that extends out into a blues/jazz jam almost doubling its original length. “The Mob Goes Wild” has the sold out crowd shouting the lyrics of the chorus at the top of their lungs. “La Curandera” was especially heavy with mammoth drummer Jean-Paul Gaster destroying his kit while bassist Dan Maines filled in the gaps. The resonating dobro intro of “Gravel Road” and the organ-laden “Never Be Moved” brought back memories of Robot Hives/Exodus clearing the way for what will go down as the band’s biggest hit yet: “Electric Worry” from Beale Street. If you can get the crowd singing the song twenty minutes after the show ends you have a bona fide hit. Vamanos, vamanos!
Set List: *You Can’t Stop Progress, *Power Player, Never Be Moved (Robot Hive/Exodus), Slow Hole, King of AZ, Going To Market (Jam Room) , Big News 1, Big News 2 (self-titled), Gravel Road (Robot Hive/Exodus), *The Devil and Me, JMB, The Regulator (Blast Tyrant), The Mob Goes Wild (Blast Tyrant), *White’s Ferry, La Curandera (Blast Tyrant), *Electric Worry.
* Songs From Beale Street To Oblivion
Websites: Clutch, Backyard Tire Fire, Year Long Disaster