The problem with Clutch is that they will never play a perfect set, and with each new album perfection becomes more unattainable, like trying to catch the setting sun. The problem with Clutch is they’re just too damn good. Perhaps I should explain…
You see, the thing with Clutch is they don’t just put out an album with a couple of good songs that carry over into the live set, and then disregard the rest. They put out classic albums, masterpieces from start to finish, and have done so consistently for 23 years, each of those albums containing at least half a dozen songs that are somebody’s favourite, and each album with a different flavour, from hardcore to blues and straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll. Which, even for an average band, would present some problems. And then, to make matters even more difficult, they change the set every night! You can – and I have – follow entire tours and never hear the same set twice! It’s kind of a Catch 22 situation, or Clutch 22, if you will. Clutch will never be perfect because they are perfect.
Tonight’s set, then, as you may have gathered, is not perfect, but is, as always, quite brilliant. There are glaring omissions, – no Unto The Breach, no Spacegrass, no Cyborg Bette, nothing at all from Transnational Speedway League – and yet there is never a single moment when the band are anything less than, well…perfect. What’s more, there is never a moment when somebody in the audience isn’t freaking out because they’re hearing their favourite tune, which, more often than not, is something that they wouldn’t have thought to include on the setlist in the first place. Sea Of Destruction, The House That Peterbilt, Passive Restraints, well, fuck yeah, we don’t mind if you do.
Clutch isn’t just a band anymore, and hasn’t been so for some time; in the best traditions of rock ‘n’ roll, it’s a religion, a lifestyle, a family. Friendships are based entirely on their music. Moreover, there is a realisation this evening that with the passing of Lemmy and Motörhead, Clutch are now the standard-bearers for rock music, the ones who will carry that road-tattered flag until death. Forgive the melodrama, but it’s a bitter/sweet moment that is fuelled by too much Jack Daniel’s, a beautiful moment, and, yes, a perfect moment. It doesn’t get much better.