Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Wow! Just Wow!

I saw Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers at Smith’s Olde Bar last night. The performance by the Arizona based band was one of the most engaging and exciting shows I have seen in many years. They had the audience in the palms of their hands from the beginning, and never let them out.

Roger Clyne can just flat out sing! For as long as he sang, as loud as he screamed, and as much as he drank, although at the end more alcohol was going up in the air than into his mouth, it was amazing that he did not miss a note. He is a consummate showman, and kept the crowd enthralled the entire show. While many bands try to coax the crowd into singing, Clyne had to make an effort to be heard over the crowd. Okay, just before the band cranked up the first song, Clyne asked the audience if they knew what to say after he said “One, two, three, four.” The crowd screamed “Uno, dos, tres, cuatro.” The wonderful lady I attended the show with, who had never seen Clyne before, or even knew who he was, commented on how surprised she was that everybody there knew the words to all the songs. Of course this comment was followed up by her telling me that she was going to break up with me tomorrow so she could follow Clyne throughout the country seeing all his shows.

The band was tight. Lead guitarist Steve Larson, face hid beneath a black cowboy hat, kept the intricate hooks coming all night long. It is almost unimaginable that he was the second guitarist for the band at one time. Rhythm section Nick Scropos on bass and P. H. Naffah on drums kept the band thundering down the road in timely fashion. Any opening band must hate being followed these guys. I forgot every lick the opening band played minutes after these guys hit the stage.

The audience was treated to night about love, drinking and, of course, Mexico; love and drinking in Mexico; love of drinking; with love and drinking Mekong tossed in for good measure. Probably half of the first Refreshment’s album was played which revved up the crowd, while the newer Peacemakers’ stuff seemed to be more mature. The rocker in the cowboy hat next to me kept telling me how every one of the slow songs was “his favorite.” The song writing is top notch regardless of tempo. Lyrics were both meaningful and funny. Clyne’s insight into the human condition is remarkable yet he does not take himself too serious. Did I mention that the guy can flat out sing?

Evident throughout the show is Clyne’s love of the audience. The interaction was sincere. His laughing came from the heart. There is no doubt he gave us his all, and did everything he knew to entertain us. The show was long. The encore was not rushed. After the lights were on and the PA playing, as some people chanted while others started heading for the door, the curtains just popped open to Clyne with his guitar as he started another song. The band was scrambling to get on stage to join him in time for the second verse. Throughout the show the band was shaking hands and high fiving everybody they could. I suspect they might have come out and have a drink with the crowd after we left.

Again the show was just incredible. The lovely lady I was with said it was pobably the best show she had ever seen. I certainly rank it near the top. I can't figure why the guy isn't just huge, other than his love for being on an indie label. Oh, and I learned something. We are The Peacemakers! Well, we as in the crowd that night. He kept telling us that, "You are The Peacemakers." I like that.


The Stuffmeister said...

Right on. I saw Tboggs randumb ten had a Refreshments song and saw your comment with a link to this review. I've been a fan since I heard "Banditos" on the radio. "The Bottle and Fresh Horses" is one of the best albums ever made. I've seen Roger and the Band play maybe half a dozen times, once in Tempe, once near santa barbara, once in Boise (don't ask) and a couple of times in SF.

And I agree with everything you said. The band is SO tight (reminds me of the bands Warren Zevon used to tour with), the songs are so good, the lyrics are so clever and powerful, and the way they can bounce from "Jack vs. Jose" to "Broken Record" and back, country to rocknroll, is just plain special. Thanks for the review!


gttim said...

Now I am jealous! I have never seen Warren Zevon, and now can't. His live album "Stand in the Fire" is intense!