Music: Hurray for the Riff Raff @ The Lantern 

by Polly Hember

“Pa’lante!” the Riff Raff songwriter Alynda Segarra cried out repeatedly, her rousing voice crashing over the sold-out Lantern, sending shivers up and down spines, showcasing Hurray for the Riff Raff’s new music with breathtaking and highly resonating power, shocking transparency to the human condition and heavy guitar work. The New World Spanish phrase means “keep on going”, as Segarra spoke out to her Puerto Rican sisters and brothers, confronting tense issues surrounding colonisation, marginalisation, segregation and oppression, she rallied the entire room and the entire gig seemed to revolve around this one momentous concept: Keep Going.

Photograph Credit: Katherine Anne Rose for the Observer

Singing with honestly, with passion and with aggression – Hurray for the Riff Raff’s musical progression from soft, relaxed Americana with languid bluegrass roots of their incredible 2014 album Small Town Heroes  to this radical, shocking protest music was unexpected and unabashedly welcomed and embraced. Putting down the fiddle, and seen in Bristol as a cohesive five-piece force of nature with bigger, angrier sounds of electric guitar, drums and keyboard – in this tense political climate they gave engaged their art and risen to new levels of creative power. Their new album The Navigator is scheduled for release in March, and if their performance in Bristol is anything to go by, it is sure to be personal, public, political, engaging, important and (as ever) enjoyable.

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Pa’lante, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Pa’lante.

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