Saturday, January 20, 2018

PHOTO RECAP: CLUTCH New Years Eve 2017-2018 at Express Live! In Columbus, OH

Clutch - Psychic Warfare World Tour 2017
EXPRESS LIVE! - 405 Neil Ave Columbus, OH 43215
Sunday, December 31, 2017

Thanks to CLUTCH for providing us with press comps and photo credentials once again. It's always a joy to shoot this fierce foursome and their openers in action. Check out our photo features on NYE Opening Artists: Devin Townsend Project and The Obsessed.

The New Years Eve show (appropriately enough on NEIL AVENUE) was incredible, with a stellar mix of old favorites and even a few brand new tunes off their upcoming release, slated for later this year. 

NYE Setlist:

We love that the band members take turns making the set list and it's always different from town to down, like the Grateful Dead of the metal scene. After over a quarter century touring together (still with the original lineup), they've got more than plenty of material to choose from, and tend to play a vast variety of obscure tracks mixed with old and new hits and fan favorites.

Two hours to showtime, we began the evening in earnest, with a pre-show meet up with a bunch of Gearheads from the private Clutch fans FB Page. Here's a shot from earlyish. Lots more members of the "Clutch family" showed up closer to show time. It was great to put some faces to the friends we've been on line with in the Clutch group since 2014, and to meet some new fans too.  

We met a girl celebrating her birthday, 
a couple celebrating their anniversary, several hard core fans 
who've been seeing shows since the mid 90's like us, 
and a handful of newbies catching their first live CLUTCH show. 
Energy was high and everyone was stoked to be there, from the back of the balcony to the rail riders that got to the venue 
hours early to stake out a spot.
Clutch did not disappoint. 
I can't think of a better way I'd rather welcome in a new year.

Here's our full set of photos in the slide show here, with a few favorite shots embedded below. All photos by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara for

Clutch NYE 2017/18 Express Live! 
Columbus, OH

Click here to check out Clutch's Official Website, for current tour dates, merchandise and tickets, and updates on their new release. 

At present, Clutch is back in the studio starting in January, working on a new release. We're excited to hear it. The world needs more Clutch! Clutch is in heavy rotation in our home, and remains one of our long time, genre defying favorites. 

We had a chance to catch a few of their upcoming songs during the new years show. Good news is, it sounds like classic Clutch. Bad news is, the new stuff seems to be lacking a bit of something. We're hoping they'll funk it up a bit more during the recording process. They're pros with 25+ years in the trenches, mostly under the radar, yet they're coming off their most commercially successful two albums ever, while staying true to their unique sound, so the bar is high. It's the old band catch 22, if you sound too much like your recent hits it's redundant, and too little like them and your core fans will revolt. 

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we've caught CLUTCH in Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana for over two decades. We're Chicago based, but we were more than happy to road trip from Chi, IL to Columbus to catch CLUTCH for New Years Eve 2017/18. We've covered and photographed CLUTCH live numerous times and this was our 2nd time to catch them for a NYE show. I've even done a video interview with lead singer, Neil Fallon, a few years back, right as Earth Rocker came out, that's still one of my favorite metal band interviews of all times.

VIP for the ADA:
At the venue I was beyond thankful for the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) seating. I've had major knee surgery twice over the past 14 months and I'm still healing from my most recent operation. This is the 4th time I've covered Clutch from ADA seating in 4 different venues. I wove through the crowds and made a trip up to the photo pit for the first 3 songs of each band's set (pretty standard for shooting shows) and was eternally grateful for a chair to return to, in a way no-one truly understands till they've been in major pain. 

I'm finally healed enough to get back to shooting live show as of December, but standing for hours is still a pretty painful prospect. It's been amazing meeting other fans in the ADA section. Some of the most hardcore, enthusiastic music lovers are there. It takes some true devotion to navigate a metal show in a wheelchair, on crutches, or otherwise differently abled. Clutch fans are some of the friendliest, most interesting people out there.

The guy on crutches in the seat next to me had also had knee surgery. He began our conversation "I've never seen Clutch...". I jumped in "They're amazing live, and NYE would be a great first show to see." He laughed and said, "No, I've seen them a ton of times for the past 20 years or more. I was gonna say, I've never seen Clutch on crutches before. This is pretty kickass. We have seats up close to the left of the stage. This is great." Yes, yes it was!

Clutch combined elements of funk, Led Zeppelin, and metal with vocals inspired by Faith No More. Formed in 1991 in Germantown, Maryland, the group included Neil Fallon (vocals), Tim Sult (guitar), Dan Maines (bass), and Jean-Paul Gaster (drums). They built a local following through constant gigging, and after just one 7" single (the classic Earache release "Passive Restraints") Clutch were signed by EastWest Records. Their debut LP, Transnational Speedway League, followed in 1993. A self-titled album appeared two years later and afforded Clutch some mainstream exposure. Pure Rock Fury appeared in 2001, and the similarly uncompromising Blast Tyrant came three years later as their first for DRT Records. Their seventh full-length, Robot Hive/Exodus, followed in 2005 and featured the first lineup change since the early '90s, the addition of organist Mick Schauer.

Clutch's numerous side releases included a groove-based album as well as Live at the Googolplex and the rarities record Slow Hole to China, both issued in 2003. Also issued in 2005, Pitchfork & Lost Needles combined Clutch's 1991 Pitchfork 7" with unreleased demos and early tracks. In the fall of 2006 the band hit the studio with producer Joe Barresi (Kyuss, Melvins) to record its next album; the resulting From Beale Street to Oblivion appeared in March 2007. In 2008 Clutch released a CD/DVD compilation of live tracks from shows in New Jersey, Pittsburgh, and Sydney titled Full Fathom Five: Audio Field Recordings 2007-2008 on their own label, Weathermaker Music. The band followed up in 2009 with Strange Cousins from the West before delivering its tenth album, Earth Rocker, in 2013. Buoyed by the success of that album (their highest-charting release ever) and eponymous lead single, Clutch continued their relentless touring through late 2015, when they released their 11th album, Psychic Warfare.

Disclosure: Thanks to CLUTCH for providing us with press comps and photo credentials once again. As always, all opinions, photos and experiences are my own.

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