As a warm-up for their awaited Trabendo show, CLUTCH played the night before on L’Album de la Semaine for French TV channel Canal Plus. Being a fan of both the band and show host Stéphane Saunier, I couldn’t miss that. But the experience turnt out to be frustrating: despite a correct sound, appropriate lighting and the ideal placement to see the foursome in action, it felt like a half-hearted performance. It was only a seven-song set, but we already knew that. But also because despite a rather energetic start, the band quickly ran out of steam and Neil Fallon seemed quite tensed. “How is it possible?”, you say. Clutch running out of steam? Yes, that was the unanimous opinion after the show. Maybe the band didn’t feel comfortable to play on a TV set, for the contact with the crowd was too limited? The fact remains that it got us a bit worried about today’s show, a thought that we could hardly consider.
D-day. PLANET OF ZEUS are in charge of warming up the packed audience – the show is sold out – and do the job well. The Greek formula is pretty simple: a Clutch-like stoner blues rock mixed with a ballsier approach à la Dozer. The energy is here from the beginning of the set. The only black point is the songwriting, as we’re getting bored after only a few songs. Fortunately enough, by the end of the show the band also to be good blues jammers, for the pleasure of a very receptive crowd.
Here we are, it is now time for CLUTCH to take the stage, kicking off with some of their heaviest and ballsiest products: “X-Ray Visions”, “Crucial Velocity”, “Cyborg Bette” and even “Burning Beard”, all songs being delivered at full throttle. Yep, we’re definitely not here to twiddle our thumbs. A moshpit quickly forms, people merrily throwing themselves against each other, pouring beer all over the place. It won’t really stop until the calmer rhythms of “A Quick Death in Texas” and that’s for the best. I just regret that the sound engineer has decided to highlight treble so much, which remove a lof of warmth and finesse to Jean-Paul Gaster’s drumming. However, there is no doubt: the guys are here to party tonight, offering a setlist focused on the best songs of the two latest albums as well as some finely chosen oldies.
Of course, the show is suffused with some kind of post-trauma atmosphere after the Paris attacks. Moshers go harder, booties are being shaked with more energy. Like this crazy “climber” who makes the most of any promontory to show a t-shirt with message about resistance on it. But mostly, the scene that will remain printed in my memory (which will surely be the case for everyone in the room) is a French flag with the latin words “fluctuat nec mergitur“, waved by this long-haired guy who gets lifted then carried by the crowd during “Our Lady of Electric Light”. The emotion is palpable, a joyful applause accompanies him as he overflies the pit, like a more intimate and specific way to pay tribute to the rock’n’roll community that was recently hit right in the heart. Then, through a fortunate chain of circumstances, “Earth Rocker” start echoing in the Trabendo, allowing everyone to release tension by cathartically screaming bwaaa haaa haaa haaa !!! along with Neil Fallon. A thrilling moment, and Neil Fallon won’t contradict that, as proven by his moving message on Instagram.
It’s now crystal clear: the night before on that TV show, the guys were keeping their energy to honor the French crowd tonight, as with old but evergreen tunes (“Escape From Prison Planet”, “Spacegrass”). The crowd got possessed by the demon of dance and the pit turned into a proper Go-Go Club on a frantic “DC Sound Attack” (as evidenced by Fabian Belleville’s video). Finally, the whole mob went wild, all naturally.
I’ll give Neil the final word about that special night: “Nothing out of the ordinary happened. People danced. People sang. People threw liters of beer across the room. By all accounts, it was a typical rock show. But these seemingly ordinary behaviors were extraordinary. The show wasn’t about Clutch. It was about Paris. It was about the indomitable spirit of humanity’s best retaliating against its worst… with joy.“
Couldn’t have said it better. Thanks, guys.
Unto the Breach
Sucker for the Witch
A Quick Death in Texas
Our Lady of Electric Light
Escape From the Prison Planet
Your Love is Incarceration
Son of Virginia
D.C. Sound Attack!
The Mob Goes Wild
Last modified: 28 April 2016