Last updated on March 29th, 2023 at 06:56 am
Tom Petty had the Heartbreakers. Jason Isbell has the 400 Unit. At first glance, you might think this style of band moniker extended to Roger Clyne, who brought his Peacemakers to the Fine Line in Minneapolis last night.
And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong: his ace band of drummer P.H. Naffah, bassist Nick Scropos, and guitarist Jim Dalton are obviously included. But when you hear Clyne announce “Hola Peacemakers!” to the crowd after their first number, you realize that the term extends far beyond the performers on stage; it includes the road crew, the family back home, and especially the dedicated fans who turn out in force.
Last night’s crowd was no exception, singing along loudly to fan favorites “Down Together,” “Tell Yer Momma,” and “Green & Dumb.” If you didn’t know any better, you’d think those were radio hits like “Banditos” (from Clyne & Naffah’s 90’s group The Refreshments) or the lone cover of the night, Cracker’s “Low.”
And their road crew went beyond the typical roles of stage sound and guitar swaps, like emceeing the show and running auctions for fan gear. But the biggest crowd reaction came when Minnesota’s Jason Boots took on trumpet duties during “Mexico,” after which Clyne invited everyone to their June festival dubbed “Circus Mexicus.”
Several Peacemaker songs echo the humorous storytelling of “Banditos,” tales of desperados drifting across the Arizona/Mexico border endlessly until the right con gets pulled off. Featuring big, meaty hooks from both vocals and guitar, their catalog could serve as your soundtrack for buying a switchblade, sticking it to the man, or at least trying a new tequila.
Clyne has a knack for pulling the crowd in during a live performance, leaving space for fans to sing out favorite lyrics or raise their glasses on a “Here’s to life!” toast. One lucky fan even got to join the band on stage, hammering out the backbeat on a giant metal triangle during the Clyne-penned King of the Hill theme song.
Opening act Parker Ryan put the early bird fans on cloud nine with a classic power trio performance, personified by his autobiographical anthem, “Beachtown Bars.” As if Stevie Ray Vaughan went through a stoner Zeppelin phase, Ryan’s East Texas twang delivered rebellious lyrics between robust jams.
Ryan’s crack rhythm section brought serious heat to the stage with skillful chops that they showed off on every number. After two songs, his drummer stripped down to a tank top, prompting Parker to quip, “Y’all got my drummer sweating…we’re too far north for this bullsh*t.” Despite forgetting which state he was in, Ryan endeared himself to the crowd with the longest song title of the night, “The Song About How My Mom Says I Write Too Many Songs About Smoking Weed.”
The Peacemakers’ current Midwest tour extends into April, with Parker Ryan for most of those dates. Wherever you catch them, you’re guaranteed an energetic ode to cowboy punk fueled by independent spirits. If your holy trinity is honest lyrics, loud guitars, and tequila, I highly recommend them.
I almost didn’t make it to last night’s show until a friend offered up an extra ticket. This morning’s sore back and tired eyes speak to my lack of practice in escaping the household gravitational pull. But catching an act like Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers reminded me that while my body is getting old, live music never will.