Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review: Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers

On Tuesday night at Knucklehead’s Saloon, Roger Clyne literally became a Peacemaker.

Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers made their first appearance in KC with new lead guitarist Jim Dalton Tuesday night, to the delight of a sparse crowd on the outdoor stage. The rain threatened throughout the 2 hour show, but never materialized.

In the 90’s Clyne was the front man for the Arizona-based band, the Refreshments, who’s single “Banditos” gave them a modest amount of fame. After a weak sophomore effort, and a record label buyout, the Refreshments broke up. Eventually, Clyne formed the Peacemakers which included Refreshments drummer P.H. Naffah as well as ex-Gin Blossoms guitarist Scott Johnson, ex-Dead Hot Workshop guitarist Steve Larson, and bassist Danny White.

The Peacemakers’ sound is less post-grunge, and more southwest-flavored, pop/country/rock than the Refreshments. Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers have been a completely independent band for 10 years, and though they’ve endured several personnel changes, still boast a small but loyal fan base.

The current lineup still includes Clyne’s longtime friend and partner, P.H. Naffah on drums, but White was replaced by Nick Scropos on bass in 2004. Johnson left the band to rejoin the Gin Blossoms, and earlier this year, Steve Larson was replaced by Jim Dalton on lead guitar.

The quartet pounded out 28 songs, 10 of which were Refreshments songs. The small crowd was enthusiastic from the start, singing along and shouting out at all the appropriate times as if they were at the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Clyne’s energy was projected on the crowd all night. He came to KC with a reputation for putting everything he’s got into every show, and Tuesday was no exception. He accepted shots of tequila as well as requests throughout the night, and constantly thanked and complimented his loyal fans. (“The best rock and roll audience on the planet!”)

A highlight of the show was the popular Refreshments’ song “Mexico,” which featured band friend Jason Boots on trumpet to provide a little mariachi flavor.
Unfortunately, the alcohol was flowing and about two-thirds of the way through the show, a small fight broke out right in front of the stage. Clyne implored the parties to break it up and “make peace.” He then took a request from each side of the scuttle (two Refreshments songs, of course) and played them both, “in no particular order.”

Clyne entered the stage announcing that Tuesday was an “international holiday: Nick Scropos’ birthday.” Later in the show, the band was joking about Scropos’ birthday, when the bassist started playing the bass line from the Pixies’ “Gigantic.” The band joined in and played a somewhat sloppy impromptu cover of the song. “Happy birthday, Nick!”

After over 90 minutes of rocking, the band left the stage briefly and returned for a five-song encore. The encore began with the slow waltz “Green and Dumb” and picked up from there. Even though the show was nearing its end, it felt as if the band was just getting warmed up and could have played a few more hours. They covered Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” and closed the show with the Refreshments’ “Nada.” A fitting close to a long night of peacemaking and celebrating life through rock and roll.

Setlist: I do, Beautiful Disaster, Preacher’s Daughter , Sonoran Hope and Madness, Contraband, Mexico, Mercy, Down Together, West Texas Moon, I Know You Know, Tell Yer Mama, Dolly, Never Thought, Maybe We Should Fall in Love, Wanted, Jack vs Jose, Gigantic, Tributary Otis, Girly, (Fight), Interstate, Mekong, Counterclockwise, Banditos, (Encore), Green and Dumb, Hello New Day, American Girl, Blue Collar Suicide, Nada