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Hurray for the Riff Raff still has a lot to say

The Sinclair, Cambridge, Mass., March 7, 2024

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Hurray for the Riff Raff - really the moniker of lead singer Alynda Segarra - hasn't come around to the Boston much in six years. About once. But their return at the sold-out club underscored that they remain ever relevant.

While the group featured more of a rock sound (and not a very distinctive one at that) half a dozen years ago, the group returns to more of a more rootsy/Americanish sound these days. In effect, Hurray's newest disc, "The Past Is Still Alive," is a welcome return to the past. And Hurray honed in on the new disc, playing all 10 songs.

One of the most telling intense songs of the night, though, was a decade-old song, "The Body Electric," which Segarra introduced by stating, "share humanity and love...It still remains so relevant...and it sums up how I feel," referring to wars going on today. The song is based on Walt Whitman's 1855 poem, "I Sing the Body Electric," and retains its haunting quality.

With the deliberate pacing of Segarra, there was a certain melancholy to the songs like "I Sing the Body Electric" and the acoustic-based "The World is Dangerous."

But not all was necessarily a downer. On the anthemic closing song, "Pa'lante!," Segarra was at her most outwardly intense by far. The song is about the downtrodden and maybe giving them encouragement with the word "Pa'lante" (slang for "go forward") closing out the lines at the end of the song. There was an urgency to Segarra's delivery because the downtrodden still need to rise.

Parker Grogan deserves a lot of credit especially since he's with the band for less than two weeks. That's not a lot of time to be integrated, but Grogan gave the songs added texture with his guitar playing. Nothing flashy. Just effective.

It seems to be a bit of a thing these days, but Segarra and band were bathed in dark blue/purple light for most of the 75-minute show. Not the best idea if looking to interact with the crowd as it was just hard to see the group. But, fortunately, the music was powerful enough to overcome that.

Hurray for the Riff Raff (still a great name) doesn't provide the ultimate concert high – there's probably too much darkness for that. But in the hands of Segarra and company, when you have something - make that a lot - to say, that's okay.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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