The Missing Link Tour. Red Rocks. 05.03.15

Missinglink

The Missing Link Tour. Red Rocks. 05.03.15

It’s always amusing when someone claims they don’t like a certain genre of music. I understand not liking a band, or even an extreme subgenre like depressive black metal or horrorcore rap, but to say you don’t like country or metal or jazz just screams ignorance. That’s not to say I’m not guilty of it myself. A friend of mine recently reminded me that I said “I hate reggae, it all sounds the same.” He reminded me of this when I asked him if he wanted to go to Reggae on the Rocks this year. I also used to spout hatred for jam bands quite often, and although I do hate most jam bands, I’m trying to be more specific when I speak out about things I don’t like. Instead of the generic “I hate jam bands”, I now say “I hate it when a band noodles on from here to eternity.” Sunday night at Red Rocks was a perfect example of why applying blanket hatred to a genre can be a disservice to your own listening pleasure. Graveyard, Clutch and Mastodon can all be considered metal by definition, but each band is very different from the other. Metal is an extremely broad term. Plugging your ears and calling it all noise is your prerogative, but you just might be missing out on your new favorite band.

RR

Red Rocks

For those of us who are open to the heavier things in life, The Missing Link Tour was a great way to kick off the 2015 season at the monolithic amphitheater in Morrison. Early May is always a little risky when it comes to outdoor shows in Colorado; the unpredictable Spring may or may not approve of us ushering Summer in before its time, so the foreboding clouds that blackened the skies above the Rockies were an unwelcome, but not surprising sight as we made our way to the Upper North Lot. As it turned out, they were just setting the mood for a night of raucous fun among the Rocks. Their bark ended up being bigger than their bite as the slight drizzle gave way to a clear night with a blazing full moon. There was a crisp chill to the air that ran havoc on the sinuses, forcing me to enjoy the show through the blur of freshly formed tears, but that was a small price to pay to get an early start to a packed series of shows that will run through October.

Graveyard

Graveyard

We were in the 17th row next to the soundboard when Graveyard kicked things off. Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, where heavy metal still sings the blues, they were the only band on the bill that I had not seen before. Joakim Nilsson took the stage at 7:00pm to warm things up with a solo performance before his band joined him for “The Siren” from 2011’s excellent Hisingen Blues. Obviously Graveyard flew here from Sweden, but they might as well have come in a time machine from the 70’s. Every member of the band sports a mustache and straight hair that rides well past the shoulder line. They are heavy as hell, but they don’t shy away from the ballads that are truly more blues than they are metal. Rockers like “Ain’t Fit to Live Here” and “Endless Night” were always followed by slow smokers like “Hard Times Lovin’” and “Slow Motion Countdown”. I’m not sure the early evening crowd really picked up on what they were throwing down, but for my money they were worth the price of admission alone. I was really looking forward to seeing this band and they blew away my expectations. Their shout-out to the locals in Speedwolf just made me like them even more. The set was a stripped down, no-frills, down-and-dirty rock show that had an emotional weight that only the deaf could deny. I’m anxiously waiting for them to come back to Colorado to headline a smaller venue. Maybe their smoke machine will do more damage there. And if we’re lucky, Speedwolf might even join them.

Clutch

Clutch

Clutch were up next. As a co-headliner, the Maryland-based band were able to perform well over an hour, although it didn’t seem nearly that long. Having existed with the same line-up for over two decades, Clutch are true professionals of the stage. They are pure energy in a live setting. They are so good that it’s almost to the detriment of their recorded work. After seeing them live, the studio work just doesn’t pack the same punch. That being said, they brought many of those albums to life on Sunday night…even throwing in a couple from the upcoming Psychic Warfare. I’m not an expert on Clutch, but I don’t think the new songs will disappoint longtime fans. I mean it in the best way possible when I say they sounded like all the other Clutch songs I’ve heard. These guys aren’t deep. They might get a little political at times, but in all reality it’s songs like “The Mob Goes Wild” and “Pure Rock Fury” that define the ethos of Clutch. Just turn off your mind, kick your worries to the curb, slam your beer, put your fist in the air and rock along with Neil Fallon as he yells at you while running around the stage like a maniac. “Are you in the party zone?!!!” If you weren’t the first time he asked, you no doubt were when he introduced Brent Hinds for “D.C. Sound Attack!”. Watching Hinds on the pedal steel while Fallon beat the shit out of a cow bell was a true highlight of the evening. If you weren’t enjoying the hell of that set, you were probably too stoned to know what was going on.

Mastodon

Mastodon

You know you’re at a metal show when there is a long line for the men’s room. It was because of the line that I was standing at a urinal when Mastodon cracked the night open with the ironically named “Tread Lightly”. Having seen the Georgia boys a half dozen times over the past few years, I tend to take Mastodon for granted. I know I’m going to enjoy the show every time I buy the ticket, but I don’t anticipate the shows like I might others. It’s probably because of this attitude that every time I see them is like the first time. Mastodon are a much heavier band than anything that came before them on Sunday night. As hard as the rocks that held the venue in place, Mastodon laid down their brand of progressive southern sludge layer after layer, until it was almost hard to breath in the open night air. Forgoing the usual backdrop with each album’s artwork, the band made the right choice by letting the simple lighting illumine the sandstone behind them. They took us through much of Once More ‘Round The Sun as the moon shone a spotlight down on the crowd, but “Bladecatcher” was a nice schizophrenic break from the new material. “You have no idea how amazing you look from here!” It’s always nice when bands appreciate the stage they are standing on at Red Rocks, but those were the only words that were spoken from that stage during Mastodon’s set. “Megalodon” brought the chaos right back before the epic “Czar…” closed things out. Having seen that song performed so many times, we listened to it on our way back to Upper North, figuring we’d beat the traffic out without missing much. I later learned they brought Neil Fallon out to literally try to tear the Rocks down with “Blood and Thunder”. That must have been insane! It’s too bad we were already on I-70 by that time, but I can’t complain. My ears were ringing, I had a smile on my face, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for my friends who claim they don’t like metal.

Graveyard:
(Unknown)
The Siren
Seven Seven
Ain’t Fit to Live Here
Hard Times Lovin’
Endless Night
The Shove (new song)
Slow Motion Countdown
Uncomfortably Numb

Clutch:
The Mob Goes Wild
Profits of Doom
Earth Rocker
Unto the Breach
Pure Rock Fury
Texan Book of the Dead
Cypress Grove
Gravel Road
Crucial Velocity
Cyborg Bette
The Regulator
New Song from Psychic Warfare
X-Ray Visions
D.C. Sound Attack!
A Shogun Named Marcus
Electric Worry
One Eye Dollar

Mastodon:
Tread Lightly
Once More ‘Round the Sun
Blasteroid
Oblivion
Chimes at Midnight
High Road
Aqua Dementia
Bladecatcher
Black Tongue
Halloween
Ember City
Megalodon
The Czar
Blood and Thunder

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