Clutch w/ Removal at the Commodore Ballroom, February 5
Good bill, eh? Two monster bands with their own twists on the heavy rock. Removal brings their instrumental punkprog fistinyourface while Clutch has developed into a kind of Sabbath-meets-Coltrane outfit over the years. Before the show, Smash told me to check out this page, which has hard evidence that Clutch are our sort of people.
We ate at the venue, and I was working on a chicken burger when Removal came on and began slaying. Trying to chew while paying attention to Removal is no mean feat, I tell you. It was great to see them on the big stage in front of so many people, and they sounded huge. With samples and triggered instruments being such a big part of their sound, I wasn’t sure if those elements would come across, but they did. They even had the slide show going. When “We’re Removal from Vancouver, BC” appeared projected behind them, they got a big cheer. As Smash pointed out, as far as much of the crowd knew, Removal might as well have been from Milwaukee...or Mars. I’m sure they made a lot of new friends, including Clutch’s drummer, whom I saw bopping away by the side of the stage during “Frankenstein.” Removal!
It’s amazing how well Clutch do in Vancouver. It helps that they play here often. It’s a bit of the old “chicken-or-egg?” Do they play here so often because they have a lot of fans, or have they gained all these fans because they play here a lot? These followers are genuine know-every-word types, too. Looking at the crowd, I couldn’t see the usual clusters of tourists who turn up because the Rough Guide to Vancouver says the Commodore is the place to go on a Saturday night. No, it was a sea of diehards out on the floor.
Neil Fallon (well into the Beard Rock stage of his career) is the people’s poet and “Mob Goes Wild” is already an all-time hoser anthem, slotting its endearingly cranky bulk alongside “Tom Sawyer”, “Riff Raff,” and Max Webster’s “Hangover.” The set list seemed fairly standard, with all the hits from their classic self-titled album (“Spacegrass” was an obvious encore), plus a couple from Elephant Riders and a good chunk of last year's tremendous Blast Tyrant. Their lineup has expanded to include keyboards on this tour for that extra Heep/Purple vibe. The new guy added some nice shading at various points, but he could have been featured more prominently, especially when you consider that the keys had the potential to take the jamming into Govt Mule territory. Maybe next time.