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Yet again, Hurray for the Riff Raff feels no absence

Paradise Rock Club, Boston, April 23, 2015

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

Hurray for the Riff Raff could never be accused of living up to the adage "absence makes the heart grow fonder." In fact, this was their fourth appearance in the greater Boston area (that is if you count last year's Newport Folk Festival for being in the general areas) in 12 months.

Like other shows, Hurray, which is really Alynda Segarra and her fine backing quartet, came out with acoustic guitar in hand to play "The New San Francisco Bay Blues."

Segarra's vocal delivery remains full-voice, commanding and certainly makes you pay attention. She weaves in stories that matter, particularly, "The Body Electric," about the murder of a woman, ("Said you're gonna shoot me down, put my body in the river/Shoot me down, put my body in the river"). Haunting to say the least.

While the focus is clearly on Seggara - and she easily fills the role - it sure helped that her backing band knows a thing or two about country, blues, New Orleans-styled sounds and more.

Sidekick Yossi Pearlstein on fiddle remains a potent force as he has every time out. He breathes a lot of life into that small instrument. Casey McAllister also is a powerhouse on organ though more in the background than Perlstein.

The traditional country songs worked especially well with drummer David Jamison setting the proper beat.

The one problem with the set was that the songs have tended to be the same at every gig. That's what happens when you keep touring behind the same album ("Small Town Heroes" from February 2014).

They did play one new song, "Living in the City," which led off the encore, and was more rocking, a bit less rootsy, but still invigorating.

Excellent songs and delivery for sure on a night where they did not overstay their welcome (the show clocked in at just over an hour), but a different set list ought to be considered next time around.

In reality, Hurray for the Riff turned the adage on its head. The crowd was definitely fond of the band, wanting more not less.

Son Little opened with of blues and soul sounds. There was a bit of Hendrix in there as well along with Stevie Wonder.

The New Jersey-based singer, who released a six-song EP last year on Anti-, was restrained in his delivery, indicating that one song was particularly quiet (not that that kept the crowd from yapping).

For reasons unknown, Son Little, aka Aaron Livingston of Princeton, N.J., had a proclivity for cutting the songs quite abruptly. He should let songs breath more because they deserve it.

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