Music » Livewire


With the Bell Rays and Backyard Tire Fire. Sunday, May 13, at the House of Blues.


Neil Fallon's beardo connections to Jerry Garcia and ZZ Top run deeper than just sharing a contempt for shaving. Immortalized in the Headbanger's Ball classic, "Burning Beard," the singer and guitarist's facial hair makes his band Clutch a logical successor to the beard-rock throne. Like Garcia and the Dead, Clutch is a road dog who's developed a rabid live following through onstage jamming, perpetual touring, and a pro-tape-trading policy. But unlike the Dead, Clutch doesn't put sober audiences to sleep.

Unlike ZZ Top, Clutch easily reproduces the grit and soul of the blues, a music Billy Gibbons and company have only diluted over the years. Clutch, in fact, gets even bluesier on its latest album, From Beale Street to Oblivion. Recorded analog-style, Fallon and guitarist Tim Sult brandish an impressive cache of wicked riffs and, in the process, have created an early candidate for hard-rock album of the year.

But the biggest advantage Clutch has over both bands is Fallon's lyrics, and Beale Street features some of his best. Whether he's ridiculing hypocritical self-righteousness in "When Vegans Attack" or the arrogance of the rich in "Power Player," the man is ridiculously on point.

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