Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers
All text and images ©2016 David Hill Photography
World Cafe Live
October 16, 2016
The twentieth anniversary celebration of The Refreshments' album Fizzy Fuzzy Big and Buzzy, commonly shortened to FFBBXX, has pulled into the northeast. The first stop north of the Mason-Dixon was World Café Live in Philadelphia. I was really impressed with this venue. It seemed very spacious for its size. The main concert area is downstairs, below street level. It includes a bar, a good size standing room section up by the stage, some table seating behind that, and a reserved seating section in the balcony. The stage was big enough for the band to be able to move around, but not so large that they were swallowed up by it. The sound and lighting were slightly better than what I've seen at similar sized venues.
Openers Andrew Leahey and the Homestead were a pleasant surprise. I had checked out a few of their songs on-line, and to be honest, at first listen I thought they were alright, but nothing special. They won me over with their set. The Nashville based quartet, came out with a ton of energy, and got the crowd going. "Silver Linings" was a definite highlight, and "10 Years Ago" really let Andrew and Tim, with his beautiful aqua Fender Telecaster, shred. As a frontman, Leahey did a great job engaging the crowd, and his story about making a mix tape for a road trip back in 1996, which included "Blue Collar Suicide" by The Refreshments and playing that one song over and over, pumped the audience up for the show to come.
Nick Scropos, P.H. Naffah, Roger Clyne, and Jim Dalton perform at World Café Live in Philadelphia.
Singer/songwriter Andrew Leahey and his band The Homestead played a 45 minute set opening for Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers
RCPM's high energy show was met by an enthusiastic crowd in Philadelphia.
After a twenty-five minute break to reset the stage, Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers took to the stage in front of a nearly full house, many of whom were very enthusiastic long-time fans. As expected, the show led off with the aforementioned "Blue Collar Suicide", and the band roared through the rest of Fizzy Fuzzy, really tearing it up on "Mekong", "Nada", and "Mexico", which featured nightly guest and tour manager Jason Boots on trumpet.
After the twelve song album was complete, the band continued on with the second half of the set, which featured a wide range of songs from both the RCPM and The Refreshments catalog. From the rocking "California Breakdown", to "Jack vs Jose", with its country western feel, and "Counterclockwise", arguably one of their strongest songs, Roger, P.H. Naffah, Jim Dalton, and Nick Scropos switched genres and tempos with ease.
Roger is a master of crowd inclusion, letting the crowd count in the beginning of "Mexico" with a raucous "uno, dos, tres, quatro", and probably half of The Refreshments biggest hit "Banditos", most notably the end of the chorus, "yeah, that seems fair.
While Roger is obviously the face of the band, the rest of The Peacemakers each bring something to the table as well. P.H.Naffah has been with him since The Refreshments days, and as Roger puts it, "has been staring at my ass for twenty years". This is the first chance I've had to get a good look at the drummer in action, and it was impressive to see him work the kit. Nick Scropos does a great job as the other half of the rhythm section, laying down a solid beat, but adding in some really interesting fills to compliment Naffah's drumming. Finally, Jim Dalton put his Les Paul through a workout, a little country twang on "Tell Your Momma", straight ahead rock for "Suckerpunch", and then he got a little southern fried with a cover of ZZ Top's "LaGrange", a song that he nailed the vocals on with his deep baritone .
To close out the show, the band brought out a song they've covered in the past and have been playing with some frequency lately. Roger introduced Chris Kantor, the stage tech/manager, and a very distinctive riff reverberated through the building as they launched into "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)" a hit for Rupert Holmes thirty-five years ago. The crowd really came off their feet, as they danced and sang along to this well-known hit.
Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers continued their east coast swing Monday night in New York City then they will move on to New Jersey, Providence, Hartford, Boston, and Pawling, NY over the next week before heading west again for the rest of 2017.
Clockwise from upper left: Nick Scropos, P.H.Naffah, Jim Dalton, Jason Boots
Closing things out with a little "Escape", with Chris Kantor on vocals