Clutch, Big Business and more at Diamond Ballroom (2019)
Diamond Ballroom (Oklahoma City, OK, USA)
Clutch, Big Business, Inspector Cluzo
March 9, 2019
CLUTCHis just a freaking great band live. There's just no other way to say it. If you can attend a CLUTCH show, and somehow not manage to come away impressed, there's just something wrong with you. The band brought their "Book Of Bad Decisions" tour to the Diamond Ballroom, the faithful home of Oklahoma City's Metal scene for another DCF Concerts one night stand. On a Saturday night no less. The fact that the old building is still standing is pretty remarkable.
I was fortunate to review "Book Of Bad Decisions" back in October of last year. I enjoyed it quite a bit, giving it an 8/10. Yet, I had never had the opportunity to see the band live, which I'd heard over and over was a must see. So, finally having the opportunity to catch them, I didn't hesitate to miss my chance. I'm really glad I didn't.
Not wanting to sully my first impression, I didn't look at any setlists from the previous nights. Funny thing is, It wouldn't have mattered. CLUTCH, for lack of a better word, takes a "jamband" approach to setlists. Much like the good ol' GRATEFUL DEAD, or WIDESPREAD PANIC, the band treats each night's show like a new experience. Songs are picked based on rotation and even placement can change randomly. Or maybe it's structured somehow. Regardless, the setlist is completely different each night. It's challenging and takes balls, and the fact that the band does this immediately won me over. The setlist on this night (which is below) included plenty of classics as well as a healthy dose of the new album. There was even an adventurous first time breakout of CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL'S "Fortunate Son". Hard to not like that.
Without question CLUTCH gives its audience 100% each night. Vocalist and occasional guitarist Neil Fallon roams the stage and interacts with the crowd incessantly. The man has to be completely exhausted by the end of each show. But it unquestionably pays off. In return, he creates an undeniable energy in the audience that must help fuel him though. While guitarist Tim Sult, and bassist Dan Maines are more reserved and stoic with their presence, their contributions to the aforementioned energy creation and consumption are undeniable. More in comparison to Fallon, drummer Jean-Paul Gaster is a man of constant motion. A whirling machine of arms and legs pounding out a steady foundation and propelling the band constantly forward.
Highlights were many. The already mentioned "Fortunate Son" cover, while perhaps a bit rough, was undoubtedly a lot of fun. The set opening "Book of Bad Decisions" and the following "Weird Times" set the blistering pace for the night. "Burning Beard" and "Firebirds!" rocked plenty hard, and "H.B. Is In Control" was unquestionably crushing and heavy. Even the encores maintained the main set's energy, with "Escape from the Prison Planet" being one of my favorite cuts of the night. CLUTCH have a few more dates left here in the states before heading over the pond to the UK for a bit. If they're headed your way, do yourself a favor, and check them out. They're firing on all cylinders for sure.
Oklahoma City, OK USA
Book of Bad Decisions
Texan Book of the Dead
Gimme the Keys
Big News I
Pure Rock Fury
H.B. Is in Control
In Walks Barbarella
Fortunate Son (CCR cover; first time played)
Escape from the Prison Planet
Electric Worry / One Eye Dollar
The support bands were similar, yet different in their approaches. First up was the French duo INSPECTOR CLUZO. Featuring Malcom Lacrouts on Guitar and Vocals and the dapperly dressed Phil Jourdain on Drums/Backing vocals the guys did a fascinating job of connecting with the Oklahoma City audience. Their set was quite engaging, and unusually fun. Despite holding down the drums, Jourdain somehow manages to perhaps roam more of the stage than Lacrouts. The set ending dismantling of the drums while still maintaining the beat was nothing short of terrific.
Taking a slightly lower end approach, BIG BUSINESS came up next. With distinctly less theatrics, Jared Warren and Coady Willis relied on their songs to connect with the audience. A bass and drum duo, BIG BUSINESS also managed to enlist a contingent of new fans during their set. Their music takes on Sludge and Punk and mixes it up quite well. I've seen that they've toured with guitarists previously, but truth be told, I found the stripped down duo approach refreshing. Willis has a kit and accessories that would make Neil Peart smile, and he knows how to supplement the band's sound. Warren's vocals take on a haunting wail at times as he weaves his bass notes around them in a constant solo. All things taken in account, this was as fine a Saturday night as we've had in some time. A really great night of heavy music.