Clutch Live in Burgerweeshuis, Deventer, Holland
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Clutch Live in Burgerweeshuis, Deventer, Holland

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In the heart of Holland’s countryside, amid windmills, canals and old stone cathedrals, lies a quaint venue built inside a former orphanage. Walking through the paved courtyard before the gig I bump into Clutch’s bearded singer Neil Fallon with a laundry bag slung over his shoulder. He tells me Clutch have played here almost every year for ten years because it’s such a cool little venue and the fans here are really dedicated. In the tiny bar across the courtyard the walls are covered with hundreds of framed photos of bands that have played here ranging from Hermano to Turbonegro, Monster Magnet to RL Burnside.

Local support act Automatic Sam are watched by the members of Clutch, whose large frames and beards stand out in the crowd. The locals bring booty-shaking, bluesy garage rock mixed with more polished harmonies and dual guitar solos. It’s a tight, well-rehearsed set, but things get messy during their last song with strings snapping and guitar straps coming lose, but they hold it together and receive hearty cheers for more.

Clutch takes little time to start stomping – throwing in neck-jerker The Mob Goes Wild early. The current line-up is a four-piece, without organ player Mick Schauer, so some songs are less jammed out than times I’ve seen them previously. Fallon spits his witty lyrics at the crowd with precision and bite. His bushy eyebrows and darting eyes give expression to every word as he leans over the front of the crowd. The Dutch are a tall bunch but Fallon says, “Up here I can see over all your heads,” with a laugh. There is humorous banter throughout the set and the crowd are in good spirits, swinging their hips and banging their heads to Clutch’s blend of dirty heavy riffs and boogie bass grooves. Baseball-capped bassist Dan Maines leans back and sleazes it out, while JP Gaster is simply a monster on drums. He shows off his skills with a couple of thundering solos between songs.

Tracks like The Devil and Me, Swollen Goat and Power Player have fists pumping and people singing along to great lines like “I’m not giving you attitude/ I just want another drink/ I don’t care about the altitude/ I just want another drink!” Indeed many Grolsch pints are consumed and many more spilt in the shaking mash of bodies in the small space between the stage and the sound desk. After a short encore, Clutch wave, give thanks and exit the stage smiling. It’s clear they have enjoyed the night and the fans are equally thrilled to have seen Clutch in their element, playing in such an intimate environment.