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Clutch 

The Galaxy Concert Theater
Santa Ana, CA
16 December 2005

by Gary Schwind

Let me start off by putting one thing to rest. I'm just going to come out and say it. Clutch is king. They reign over all the pretenders to the hard rock throne. 

I have seen Clutch about half a dozen times and I have never felt that they were off for even a song. I'll say this much. I don't think you'll ever find a band tighter than Clutch. You may find some bands equal to them, but never tighter. And their fans are some of the most devoted fans around. They know every lyric to every song and in between songs, they all shout the song they'd like to hear next. The audience erupted when Clutch kicked off the show with "Big News I" and "Big News II" and didn't stop until the house lights came up after "Impetus."

It occurred to me last night that Neil Fallon might be the perfect frontman. He certainly is the personality of the band but he doesn't need to be the center of attention. After his Greg Graffin-like expressions and wild gesticulations, he is happy to step aside and watch the other guys do their thing.

Another thing that makes Clutch king is that you don't feel cheated when you go to one of their shows. They were on stage for probably an hour and a half and performed 20 songs. Knowing Clutch fans, they probably wanted more, but come on, you don't get that sort of effort from every band.

 As expected, Clutch drew most heavily (7 of 20 songs) from their most recent album Robot Hive/Exodus. However, they also performed at least one song from: Clutch, Blast Tyrant, Pure Rock Fury, The Elephant Riders, Transnational Speedway, League, Impetus. You have to give them credit. They could have just gone up there, performed eleven songs from Robot Hive/Exodus and said, "Good night now!" But they didn't. They gave us a heaping helping of Clutch goodness and that's what we love about them.

Elliott Whitmore opened for Clutch as he has been for three weeks. It's an interesting pairing that you probably wouldn't expect. Elliott Whitmore is a singer-songwriter who plays banjo and acoustic guitar. When he started to play, the audience came alive for the first time all evening and with good reason.

Whitmore is an excellent songwriter with a powerful voice. He sings simple old-time rootsy songs and I got the feeling that he'd be just as comfortable performing on someone's porch or a boxcar as on a stage. I will definitely have to add some of his music to my collection.

Elliott Whitmore was preceded by two local bands, Duress and SiX. Duress was OK. They are a young band reminiscent of Candlebox. I don't know for sure, but SiX may have chosen their band name based on the number of songs that they know. Even if they do know more than six songs, they'd never have time to play more than that because the lead singer spends so much time talking and being "angry" between songs.


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