TVD Live Shots: Clutch with The Steel Woods and Damon Johnson at the 9:30 Club, 12/29

Maryland’s Clutch received a hometown-style welcome when it sold out Washington, DC’s legendary 9:30 Club during the last weekend of 2019, bringing with them The Steel Woods and Damon Johnson.

Damon Johnson, known for his work with Brother Cane, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, and Black Star Riders, kicked off the night. I was looking forward to seeing Johnson again as, while I’m old enough to have heard Brother Cane on played on the radio back in the 90’s, I never got to see Damon until he toured with Black Star Riders in 2018 when they supported Judas Priest. Stepping out of the shadow of that band, we got to see Damon taking the lead, showcasing some new tracks and setting hits from his back catalog aflame including Brother Cane tunes “And Fools Shine On” and “Got No Shame” along with a very fun cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed.”

The Steel Woods then took the reins. Donning cowboy hats and turquoise jewelry, the Nashville-based band appears to embody the Southern rock tradition, mixing blues-rock with an outlaw spirit and giving a nod to their brethren during a muddy cover of “Whipping Post.” Lest they be pigeonholed however, influences on their 2017 debut Straw in the Wind are said to include Metallica and Led Zeppelin. The band formed after guitarists Wes Bayliss and Jason “Rowdy” Cope met in Nashville and became friends, later collaborating musically and adding bassist Johnny Stanton and drummer Jay Tooke to the lineup. The band added a dark country outlaw edge to the rock lineup and it worked well.

Finally, in what has become an annual occurrence during the holidays, Clutch (Tim Sult, Dan Maines, Jean-Paul Gaster, and Neil Fallon) played three holiday “Clutchmas” dates from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. The dates in DC, Sayreville and Philadelphia featured three distinct set lists, 54 songs in all. Appropriate to DC, Clutch hat tipped DC Go-Go legend Chuck Brown, taking the stage to “We Need Some Money” while the enthusiastic crowd sang along. The DC flavor wove its way through the set as local musicians joined the band—horns and bongo—for a few songs, resulting in a particularly ass kicking rendition of “In Walks Barbarella.” Good choice.

While Clutch do not have any tour dates currently scheduled, Damon Johnson hits the road again starting in February, and The Steel Woods resume touring in early January.

DAMON JOHNSON

THE STEEL WOODS

CLUTCH

DAMON JOHNSON SETLIST
Breadmaker
Dallas Coulda Been a Beatdown
Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed
Got No Shame
20/20 Faith
And Fools Shine On
Shivering Shivering

THE STEEL WOODS SETLIST
Rock
Wild and Blue
All of These Years
Blind Lover
Whatever it Means
Same Old Blues
Whipping Post
Compared to a Soul
Axe
Let the Rain Come Down

CLUTCH SETLIST
You Can’t Stop Progress
Power Player
A Good Fire
Weird Times
Gimme the Keys
Vision Quest
The Incomparable Mr. Flannery
Book of Bad Decisions
Rats
Mice and Gods
Ghoul Wrangler
Sucker for the Witch
Frankenstein
In Walks Barbarella
Brazenhead

ENCORE
How to Shake Hands
Electric Worry
Fortunate Son

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