Clutch's latest LP, Robot Hive Exodus, isn't in progress a minute before the band name-checks REO Speedwagon, Kansas, and Boston. The Maryland brute squad is near the top of the list of contemporary bands that, in a perfect world, would be staples on classic-rock radio. Clutch often gets labeled a jam band, mainly because it encourages the trading of taped live shows in which the group, well, jams at length. But Clutch is that rare creature, a "you really gotta see them live" band that makes better-than-good records.
Clutch singer Neil Fallon once described the band as possessing the "funkified fury of Led Zeppelin served within a modern metal motif," and on the group's latest, its titanium-plated rhythm section recalls Zeppelin at its heaviest. In high Robert Plant fantasy-myth mode, Fallon conjures images of manticores, doppelgängers, and basilisks without sounding the slightest bit nerdy. And the Zeppelinry continues through "10,000 Witnesses," which sees the throbbing band unplug briefly to introduce yet another song that swells into a low-end orgy. Still, good as the album is, all those people who say you really need to see Clutch live for the full experience ain't lyin'. And on this tour, they're playing two full sets, so it's a double dose for those just catching up.