The first time I saw legendary US rockers, Clutch, was at Download Festival back in 2006. They played under a huge circus tent to a crowd that was less than enthused; only present to get that coveted front row spot for the shit fest that was to follow. Watching one of my favourite bands play to a crowd that didn’t care was both saddening and frustrating. Worst still, it appeared that Clutch themselves were becoming less than inspired by the ever increasing volume of InMe and Atreyu t-shirts that were filling up the first couple of rows of their set. After their set, I felt deflated. I had been looking forward to seeing Clutch all that week and now that I had, I wished I hadn’t. Everything was wrong; wrong venue, wrong crowd, wrong attitude. So much so, that for years my opinion of Clutch as a live band, has been less than positive.
So when I heard that Clutch were to play in my own city, in a venue that proclaims to have a capacity of 800, I was intrigued to say the least.
Team Bone-Yard assembled in our favourite Edinburgh haunt, Bannermans Bar, at 6:30pm on the 6th of May 2014. In a matter of hours Clutch, a band that has supplied the soundtrack to many of my fondest memories in life,would take to the stage of Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms. Spirits were high and the beers started to flow at a welcoming rate. One by one more and more friendly faces would join us; everyone united by excitement and anticipation .
At around 8:30 our pack staggered out into the cool evening air, there was a buzz flowing through the Edinburgh streets and it was heading towards the the Liquid Rooms.
As we arrive at the venue we join even more familiar faces. Its fantastic to see so many people out and the sense of community really creates an electric atmosphere. We go inside and head straight to the bar. The support act, Lionize, are fresh off the stage. I was a bit saddened to hear that Clutch weren’t offering a local band the chance to open for them, but from speaking to a few folk, apparently Lionize were actually rather good.
Beers in hand we make our way to the middle of the crowd and wait.
Eventually the music dies down and Clutch take to the stage, the crowd erupting into cheers of awe when Neil Fallon and his iconic beard become visible. They’re here, they are actually here and the realisation that we’re about to see one of the best rock bands in the world throw down in one of Edinburgh’s most intimate venues, because extremely clear.
Opening with the dusty-blues-heavy anthem “Gravel Road” its clear from the offset that this is going to be a set full of classics. Third song in and Fallon and co are in full swing, as band and audience unite to belt out the words of groove-laden crowd favourite,”The Incomparable Mr Flannery”. Half way through the set and my memories from 2006 seem to have faded away; like the hazy recollection of a bad dream. Tonight Clutch are on fucking fire, they deliver their set with confidence, power and genuine enjoyment; and the crowd eat it up course by course. They finish with another sing-a-long classic, the highly energetic “100011″, straight into one of the newer tracks, “The Wolfman Kindly Requests”.
Having left the stage, the crowd go straight to work encouraging an encore. For what feels like an age, the crowd chant, stomp, cheer and boo. Eventually, our heros of the night join us once again; happy to ensure that we leave having had our fill from their killer rock buffet. They close with an absolute powerhouse rendition of “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” and as quickly as they came and rocked, they are gone.
Outside and the crowd come spilling out, each alight with the satisfaction that they may have just seen one of the best gigs to ever roll through our beautiful city. Sweaty bodies linger, sharing stories, swapping views and opinions and generally connecting over what was simply a truly amazing gig.
Its been just short of a week since Clutch rocked Edinburgh and only one thought spins round in my head. Why are gigs like that so far and few between in Edinburgh? This is the capital city of Scotland, yet I can’t even recall ever seeing a good “established” band play my much loved burgh? The good thing is, this could soon be coming to an end.
With Machine Head, perhaps one of the biggest metal bands in the world, announcing a show later this year in this very city, in the same venue that is most likely still hot from Clutch’ volcanic performance; are we about to start seeing the capital claim the throne as the “place to play” for these established touring acts?
Let’s hope so; because if Tuesday’s gig was anything to go by, the people are hungry for it!
Photo’s by Alan Swan Gig Photography