Clutch at the Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights, MI

Guitar amplifier explodes on stage during a Clutch concert as Tim Sult delivers a smokin’ guitar solo to thousands of Michigan metalheads.

Tonight, the Clutch Army will unite and together we shall storm Freedom Hill (a.k.a. Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre) and join our beer-drinking, bearded brethren burrowing into the bowels of BOOM! Clutch, the power quad of stoner sass and rock ‘n’ roll riff-raff has brought their No Stars Above Tour for a much needed Michi-gandic stop at Sterling Heights (a sparkling little burb, just a stone’s throw from the Motor City). Tonight, thousands upon thousands have gathered to spend an evening with the cult-like, underground groove soldiers from Germantown, Maryland… Clutch!  Now thirteen studio albums in and more than thirty years in the making, they have brought a hefty plate of offerings to this hungry mob of music lovers. So let’s get to the gravy…
 
9:21 PM on an oh so steeeeamy Friday night… and we see the massive stage of the MLA is plastered with a huge banner displaying the Clutch logo along with the words “No stars above to guide me…No sunrise shall I see again.” Stage lights dim as the Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers classic “We Need Some Money” begins to play.   The tune comes to a close and the stage lights pop, and we can see three of the four horsemen are ready to ride. A confident and smiling bearded Fallon casually strolls onto the stage, and the horde explodes in response with a BLAAAMMMM of anticipatory energies. Fallon finds his way to the microphone, and in his calm, cool, Neil voice announces, “Let’s do this!” Fallon’s pipes unleash the first Clutch-tastic eargasm of the night as the lyrics of the spirited new banger “Red Alert(Boss Metal Zone)” bowl over the fist-pumping fans. 
 
Next up, the dark and crunchy new track “Nosferatu Madre” and it’s well received by the crowd. This vampirically-verbed, macabre menace is sure to become a Clutch classic as it checks all the boxes of an old-school rock romp with a tip of the hat to the band’s younger years. The big C follow this with the fun time classic “Walking in the Great Shining Path of Monster Trucks.” Fallon’s not-so-fictional factoids of fabled folklore press forward with the third single and semi-title track from the band’s new album, “Slaughter Beach,” blasts from their amplifiers next in the set. This hard-hitting ass-slapper is the first Clutch tune of its kind, introducing a vibraphone, female backing vocals, and the theremin. Neil explains some of the inspiration behind this song involves long walks on a Delaware beach, where odd things happen.  The beach is actually a sanctuary for horseshoe crabs that, in days past, were harvested for medicinal purposes (hence the name Slaughter Beach). This crowd is ready to party, and keep to mood with occasional mosh pits breaking out as the band presses forward into “Burning Beard,” “We Strive for Excellence,” “The Dragonfly,” and a Fallon-led group singalong to the cult classic “Spacegrass.” “Sucker for the Witch,” an extended play version of “Profits of Doom,” and the knuckle-buster “X-Ray Visions” hit the set next. Guitarist Tim Sult and bassist Dan Maines dig in, ripping out those rock-tacular riffs and working those fretboards together in divine synchrony. Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster’s razor-like rudiments and powerfully placed precocious paradiddles bring that secret sauce that makes the Clutch sound a truly cerebral experience.
 
Just now at halftime, Clutch puts the pedal to the floor sending “Firebirds,” “The Regulator,” and “A Quick Death in Texas” into a beer-soaked brigade of bearded moshing metalheads (with just a hint of refer madness). 
 
The Muddy Waters-inspired “Electric Worry” rolls out next and Fallon steps center stage, bringing us into the scene with some tasty slide licks before launching into the tune’s iconic intro. Fans sing along with Neil and, of course, everyone joins in for a celebratory “Bang, Bang, Bang…Vamonos Vamonos!.” “Electric Worry” transitions perfectly into the old-school face-smasher, “The Mob Goes Wild.” The tune comes to a close and the boys from Germantown suggest this just might be the end of the show….  ironically, this mob did go wild, and Clutch returns to the stage to deliver a three-song encore. They hit with a one-two combo and serve up “Big News I,” followed by “Big News II” and they close the night on the sweetest little tuck-me-in story, appropriately titled… “The Wolf Man Kindly Requests…”
 
Clutch comes as a horns up, in-your-face Loud Hailer-recommended concert experience. A must-see thrill ride of gear-jamming, adrenaline-chugging, and fist-pumping that is sure to delight the live music aficionado in you as well as the deepest, darkest parts of your headbanger’s soul. Be sure to catch them on the No Stars Above Tour underway now. Head on over to the band’s official website for concert dates, details, and current news. While you’re there, grab yourself a copy of Clutch’s 13th studio album, Sunrise on Slaughter Beach; nine tracks of tympanic tyranny that will melt the middle of your medulla (and dig this.. it’s also available on a super cool, limited-edition vinyl picture disc).
 
Clutch Army strong! 
 
CLUTCH
 
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About Jay Dunbar 54 Articles
Jay Dunbar is a professional photographer that enjoys wearing a multitude of hats. He is active in the commercial and stock photography arenas and currently owns and operates a Detroit based investigations firm and photography agency. Despite his many endeavors, Jay can frequently be found in attendance at your favorite concert venues, capturing breathtaking images of live performances of many genres of music. A skilled author and photographer, he could be described as a " Serial Music Journalist." Carrying the photo bug for nearly thirty years, Jay enjoys all styles of photography, testing new gear, and helping aspiring photographers, artists and models to develop their skills and learn their craft.