Motörhead and Clutch
House of Blues Boston, Kenmore Square, 03/01/11
The last note still reverberated throughout Newbury Comics as I left in haste for my second show of the night. Once outside I was surrounded by trendy shops, Berkley hipsters, lustful Cougars, and individuals with more money than I. Looking about, I acknowledged that my scene was soon to be flipped on its head, and as I walked East towards the House of Blues, I prepared myself for stark change. I had just seen an intimate set of acoustic Freak Folk attended mostly by reclusive shoegazing stoners, and now was on my way to hang-out with multiple generations of Metalheads.
Turning onto Landsdowne Street I was awash in a sea of people who had black t-shirts, leather, long hair, beards, and the smell of whiskey close to their breath. A strange combination of Hells Angels, Punks, Outlaws, Rednecks, Speed Freaks, and Union Members were in-line waiting to get in. Thankfully I had Foundation Room access, so while avoiding eye contact with these assorted characters, I cut underneath the velvet rope and budged my way into the show.
Thus far in 2011 I’ve paid my respect to some of the great rock elders of our past. I’ve given homage toRobert Plant, raised a toast to President George Clinton, and now was about to give Fraser Kilmister, or as he’s better known as – Lemmy, his just due. Lemmy is a legend, the once Jimi Hendrix roadie is now a Rock God of his own, and his legend has been on the tip of many tongues following the documentary on his life, “LEMMY: 49% Motherfucker. 51% Son of a Bitch”. Lemmy is the Evil Cal Ripken Jr. of the Rock ‘n’ Roll circuit, outlasting all, while changing none.
I’m not, and never was, that into metal, but there’s certain bands I was able to appreciate from the periphery, and Motörhead was one. The crowd went ecstatic upon hearing the first curls of Lemmy’s bourbon growl burst from the Marshall’s behind him, but I have to admit – the whole experience seemed to be lacking a little for me. The drum kit was obscene, and much larger than necessary, and the guitar solo’s were poorly executed and generic. Lemmy was a powerhouse, but his voice was as monotonous as a machine gun, never allowing you to forget it’s power, but being repetitive enough to put you into a trance. I appreciated it all, and the fact that Lemmy’s doing this at the age of 66 is as big as an inspiration as any, I couldn’t help but be a little bored though, and I blame part of that on Clutch.
Clutch was the middle band on the bill, and by my ear had the superior evening on stage. While Clutch peaked in the mid-90’s with album sales, I think it’s today that they’re truly finding their style and way. They pounded through a bluesy psychedelic attack that had branches to numerous cousins within the rock family tree. The feel and vibe of their music still has a tough dirty finger nail quality to it, but the changes of rhythm along with their improvisational tendencies made them appear to be a metal jam band.
Motörhead was the reason for me being at the House of Blues, and seeing Lemmy was something I needed to do at least once in my lieftime, but on a night where I was tipping my cap to the consistent one note act of Lemmy & Motörhead – Clutch ended up changing my perspective on both their diversity and music – all the while stealing the show.