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Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

Rialto Theatre, Saturday, June 23

Hello. My name is James, and I'm a ... excuse me. I'm a Peacehead. Meaning, I'm a fan of Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers.

I know what you're thinking: "Who's this cheap-suit-wearin', hipster-doofus, music-snob, Paul Weller/Morrissey-wannabe trying to fool?" But it's completely true.

I'll admit I was not a big fan of Clyne's first band, Tempe's The Refreshments, when MTV was shoving their humorous "Banditos" video down my throat back in 1996. Years after Clyne disbanded the 'Freshies, a good friend urged me to revisit the group, and I was hooked. When Clyne got back into the music biz, forming the Peacemakers in 1999, I was quick to the bait. I got to mingle with fellow Peaceheads at Rialto Theatre last Saturday, though I still felt like a fish out of water among the shorts-and-sandals, cowboy-hat-wearing crowd.

Saturday's show was the first Tucson appearance for Clyne since March's release of his new CD, No More Beautiful World, and going against an audience's typical fresh-material reaction, the crowd was more than familiar with the 10 new cuts performed during the 29-song (!) set. From the opener "Hello New Day" to the finale "Lemons," the new material fit seamlessly with older, boisterous 'Freshie favorites like "Mexico," "Wanted," "Preacher's Daughter," "Down Together," and "Mekong," a song that may have surpassed the hit "Banditos" in popularity, with its chorus inviting a theater-wide toast and a utopian desire for an endless happy hour.

While trading drinking anecdotes, flask hits, straw hats and stuffed animals (there were a bunch of little kids on shoulders up front) with the crowd, Clyne personified the Mexico-bound, beach-loving, free-spirited drifter we 9-to-5ers can only live vicariously through, while singing his tequila-fueled tales, always served up with a chaser of clever wordplay.

Of the dozens of Peacemaker shows I've seen, this was one of the most enjoyable, save for a few vocal bad apples who must have started pre-partying around breakfast, as well as the personal-space obsessives who think Clyne is performing for them alone. The new material is more accessible than the introspective alt-country numbers off the last release, ¡Americano!, and the Peacemakers' acoustic-based tunes off their debut, Honky Tonk Union, though it's hard not to hug a stranger while you belt out the CD's tear-jerker, "Green and Dumb."

Even if you're the only one wearing a pink shirt and a skinny black tie.

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