The mighty Clutch brought their No Stars Above Tour to Cincinnati on Friday, along with Amigo The Devil and Nate Bergman.
I am not sure just how many tour legs Clutch is doing this year. There are at least four, but let’s think about the nearest US dates. The current one is with Amigo The Devil and Nate Bergman, then in a few months (after returning from Europe) they are out again, with Red Fang and Dinosaur Jr. Now, if we pause to think about this for a minute, we will realize those sets are fascinating combos. In this first case, the supporting bands do not seem to sound much like Clutch, but the three work spectacularly well together. In the second case, the same, except on a different plank of the spectrum. Incredible. What we do know is that Clutch always puts on a great show and everything else is icing on the cake.
Nate Bergman opened the night at the Andrew J. Brady ICON Music Center on the river in Cincinnati, Ohio. I have raved about this venue before so I will mostly spare you the accolades this time around. I will say that the place is new, less than two years old, and it has a huge stage. The first two bands set up across the entire width of the stage, making them very spread out, much more than is usually the case. That’s not a big deal … it is just different.
The show began when Nate Bergman walked out on stage by himself and stood beneath a single white spotlight. He sang the first song solo, unaccompanied, and the crowd was silent, mesmerized by his soulful, haunting voice. The full band joined him after that, and they played through a set of rock-tinged folk/country songs that ran the range of emotions. This was my first time seeing him live, but it won’t be my last.
Amigo The Devil is the stage name of musician Danny Kiranos. His music is frequently described as murder folk, which I have come to understand as folk-like songs about unsavory subjects. I’ve seen Amigo The Devil at least a dozen times, always at huge music festivals where he came on stage by himself with only his banjo and guitar. He is an affable fellow, and he always worked the crowd for a while and flashed his disarming smile then sang a song about how he hoped the husband of a lady friend of his would die. I have heard everything he has ever recorded, and I never miss a chance to see him live.
This time, it was different because Danny brought a full band – something I have never seen before. His most recent album, Born Against, had a bigger production than some of his previous work and maybe he thought he would give that a try to tour, too. It worked out spectacularly. I recognized every song, but this time around they sounded a little different. It is still Amigo The Devil, and the songs are still on subjects most won’t sing about, delivered with an absolutely heartbreaking sincerity. It was a wonderful set, and it was also nice to see him perform outside of the festival setting. Now, if I can just catch him in a small club sometime…
The band I have seen most live is Clutch. I am a metal head from way back, and I have been going to metal shows for decades. My usual haunts are heavy / death / doom / black / thrash metal, and I do mostly see those sorts of bands. But Clutch is my favorite band. I would watch a live Clutch show every week if I could. I have heard all of their music, too, and I know most of the lyrics from the repeated plays. There is a Clutch song for every mood, every time of day, and they never let you down.
Another fascinating thing about the band is their set list changes for every show. It is on a sort of rotation, but it is entirely unpredictable. They post a photo of the set list from every show on their Instagram and Facebook accounts, so go and take a look at them sometime. It is incredible the amount of music that must be in their heads all the time to be able to pull up songs they haven’t played for a while and not miss a beat.
There aren’t any Clutch songs I don’t like, but of course I have my favorites. They played new songs from their latest album, Sunrise On Slaughter Beach, and they also played tunes that reached all the way back to the beginning. With so much music to choose from, there is no going wrong. At the show, you never know what’s coming next – it could be “Hot Bottom Feeder,” a great song I haven’t heard them play live before, or “Worm Drink” from the certified classic album Blast Tyrant. Apart from the incredible music and the dynamic performance, the thrill of not knowing what comes next is a big part of the experience.
The band – Neil Fallon, Dan Maines, Jean-Paul Gaster, and Tim Sult – sounded incredible, just as everyone thought they would. Fallon had a big stage to roam on, and he made use of it in his usual fashion, moving back and forth, front and back, and engaging the audience. Another amazing show. The No Stars Above Tour continues through mid-May before taking a short break. I have included the tour posters for the four announced legs below so you can check the dates. See them every chance you get. I know I will. And if you would like to see more photos of the performances, there are links to photo galleries for all three bands below, too.
Photos by Wayne Edwards.
Amigo The Devil, https://www.amigothedevil.com/
Nate Bergman, https://www.natebergmansings.com/
The Andrew J. Brady ICON Music Center, https://bradymusiccenter.com/
More Clutch photos, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2023/04/23/photo-gallery-clutch-at-the-icon-music-center-cincinnati-april-21-2023/
More Amigo The Devil photos, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2023/04/23/photo-gallery-amigo-the-devil-at-the-icon-music-center-cincinnati-april-21-2023/
More Nate Bergman photos, https://flyingfiddlesticks.com/2023/04/23/photo-gallery-nate-bergman-at-the-icon-music-center-cincinnati-april-21-2023/
© Wayne Edwards