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Lamb of God, Clutch & Corrosion of Conformity Live at NOLA’s Orpheum

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I ended up seeing Lamb of God, Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity live at the Orpheum in New Orleans after seeing the sponsored ad for it on Facebook, despite not having “liked” any of the bands’s pages at the time. Social media’s Big Brother algorithms had clearly tracked my movements to Louisiana by way of my “check-ins,” and detected the recent uptick in metal-related content on my timeline since I’d started contributing to Invisible Oranges. Creepy, but useful.

After seeing the ad I remember thinking: “Damn, that’s an awesome line-up. Wouldn’t expect to see anything like that outside of a festival.” Indeed, Lamb of God pre-gamed at the Welcome To Rockville festival in Jacksonville, Florida, before picking up Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity to kick off their spring tour.

New Orleans’ Orpheum Theater opened in 1921 and originally housed vaudeville shows. It served as a movie house as well as multiple other iterations, including housing the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, until 2005 when it sustained significant flooding damage during Hurricane Katrina. The theater was eventually purchased by Dr. Eric George and Tipitina’s owner Roland Von Kurnatowski in 2014 and underwent a $13 million renovation. Orpheum re-opened in the fall of last year. It’s original plaster work, color scheme and general grandeur were meticulously restored while it’s audio and lighting tech were massively modernized to “complement The Orpheum’s original acoustic layout.”

In an unfortunate surprise turn-of-events, the night’s festival-esque lineup was accompanied by festival-esque photography restrictions. I was allowed to photograph the first three songs of each band’s set from the photo pit beneath the stage (standard practice), then escorted by security all the way to the lobby of the venue for the remainder of each. There are a number of reasons why management teams set these additional limitations, most often to prevent abuse of the “first three songs” rule by press who might otherwise covertly shoot from the sides of the pit or from the back of the venue. While it is vital to the symbioses between bands and press to respect these boundaries, it does tend to leave the weary reviewer stranded without a whole helluva lot to talk about.

What I can say is that the 1500-capacity theater was packed to the gills early with a diverse and easygoing crowd. Crusty southern metalheads abounded, but I also noticed people bringing their children, and saw some unexpected familiar faces of local musicians in line. The ways in which the music scenes in New Orleans are inter-supporting is always refreshing. This was no different.

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Slumped on a couch in the lobby after Corrosion of Conformity’s quick and dirty opening, including “Bottom Feeder” and “Broken Man” my attempts at small talk with the other photographers gone unrequited, I strained my ears against the walls of the building trying to pick out anything that might help me fill my word count. It was for naught; only muddy vocals, bass and thundering cheers triumphed over the architecture.

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Back in the pit for Clutch, we were treated to “X-Ray Visions,” “Firebirds!” and “Burning Beard.” They played fast, fun and hard. Back on the “time-out” couch, my search for content was less fruitless this time. Neil Fallon announced a guest artist and I shook my head, “motherfuckin’ Mike Dillon.”

Dillon, primarily known for The Mike Dillon Band, is an innovative percussionist who sits with an impressive array of bands. I’d heard of him for the first time upon my arrival in New Orleans the previous week, and since then had photographed him during sit-ins with The Revivalists at Jazz Fest and Galactic at Orpheum Theater. He’d also been part of the lineup for an improvisational music series at The Hi-Ho Lounge called “Instant Opus” that I shot the night before the show at-hand. I’d started joking that shooting shows in New Orleans was akin to playing “Where’s Waldo” with Mike Dillon, and here he was again. Not being able to shoot or see him was breaking my heart.

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Lamb of God opened with Resolution’s “Desolation” and “Ghost Walking,” and VII: Sturm und Drang’s “512.” Vocalist Randy Blythe is friendly and unassuming in person (so much so that I completely didn’t notice him when asked to take a photo of him and a fan at an unrelated show a couple weeks prior). He is an absolute monster on stage. His presence commands one’s complete attention.

Thirty minutes into Lamb of God’s set, unable to get any real feel for what was going on and barely able to discern the songs from one another, I decided to beat the crowds out the door and made my way to my favorite 24-hour French Quarter dive to examine the contents of my memory card.

Lamb of God’s Spring 2016 tour is currently working it’s way west across the US with Corrosion of Conformity and Clutch in tow for the duration. They’re set to stop at a handful of festivals including Northern Invasion, Rock on the Range, and Bonnaroo before wrapping up in the band’s hometown of Richmond, Virginia, in August.

—Blair Hopkins

Corrosion of Conformity

Clutch

Lamb of God

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