[Review] Clutch at the Backyard Stage at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre

Clutch 1
Photo taken from band’s Facebook page

Ever since my first show with Clutch, there’s always a lot of excitement leading up to an evening with them. And this night was no exception. December 5th promised to be something special, as they were playing at one of my favorite venues, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, at their more intimate Backyard Stage. Special doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Photo cred: HobieArt

Opening the evening, we had The Obsessed. Unfortunately, I was only able to get there in time to hear the last song. I’m truly sorry I missed them, as they’ve clearly earned the respect of the other musicians performing after them, as well as the entire crowd. Their name could be heard throughout the night, and I didn’t hear a negative word spoken about them. They’ve definitely made it onto my running list of ‘must-see’ bands.

Photo taken from band’s Facebook page

Next, we had Canadian legend Devin Townsend. I had conducted a little research prior to the show, so I had an idea of what was in store for me. Nothing could truly have prepared me for what came next. Supported by Dave Young on guitar, Ryan Van Poederooyen on drums, Brian ‘Beav’ Waddell on bass, and Mike St-Jean on keys, frontman Devin Townsend gave us a little taste of what goes on inside his head. Let me tell you – it was quite the journey!

Devin has indicated that, with his latest album, _Transcendence_, his goal was to “make something beautiful because the world is so ugly right now.” Between his hilarious on-stage banter and spirited performances of fan favorites such as “Stormbending” and “Kingdom,” my world got a little bit brighter that night. If you ever get an opportunity to see a DTP performance…take it!!! You’ll leave feeling fulfilled, but also scratching your head, wondering what in the world just happened.

The evening was already going so well, and we hadn’t even gotten to the main event! I was with several friends who had never seen Clutch live. They all laughed as I jumped up and down and punched the air to warm up. Every time I see them play, I learn something new about them as a band. I just had a feeling that this evening was going to further deepen my love for them. As the lights went down and the house music transitioned to a powerfully funky tune, a devilish smile brightened my face. I knew they were about to exceed my expectations tenfold.

Photo cred: Tim Sult

Clutch immediately grabbed the audience, opening with “Crucial Velocity,” one of my favorites from the 2013 album _Earth Rocker.” _ They followed with powerhouse hits “Immortal,” “Gravel Road,” and “Suck for the Witch,” with jams and transitions that display why they continue to dominate the scene after all these years. Frontman Neil Fallon rarely took a second to catch his breath before moving on to the next song. Their epic performance of “Electric Worry” had the entire crowd banging their heads, rattling off every word in full support.

My go-to album when I’m feeling down or angry, is 1995 self-titled album _Clutch._ Apparently, I’m not alone, as a loud roar could be heard throughout the crowd, when they came back with an encore that included “Big News” and “The House that Peterbilt.” Honestly, I could have gone on all night with these guys; two hours with them just doesn’t ever seem like enough.

On the drive home, I reflected on the evening’s performance and what new tidbit I had learned about this band that never ceases to amaze me. The chemistry onstage between these musicians allows them to seamlessly transition from funky beats to jams, all while maintaining a level of rock that keeps your head banging and the pit moshing. This, coupled with their songwriting craftsmanship, reminded me why they’ve been able to not only remain relevant, but inspire new fans after 24 years in the scene. There were a number of youngsters in the audience that night. I’m hoping they walked away as awestruck as the rest of us did over this top-notch show. The only thing that could have made it better was if they’d delivered the song everyone was begging for. Someday, I’ll get that “Spacegrass” performance and it will be oh-so sweet!

Clutch setlist
Photo cred: Tim Sult

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