Hurray For The Riff Raff – Cluny 2 Newcastle – 19-1-17

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It is a sold out crowd at Cluny 2 as we wait for this New Orleans Blues group to take to the stage. This gig is organised by the Jumping Hot Club and it feels like a perfect match.

Politics are in the air tonight – the eve of Trump’s inauguration. Hurray For The Riff Raff ’s multi-cultural, New Orleans atmosphere certainly points to an almost protesting vibe to the evening.

Support comes from the young, local folk artist Rhona Dalling with Matty Jones joining her on guitar. She plucks her banjo sweetly, matching her very sweet vocals. Her political input comes from her fiddle tune ‘Obama’s March To The White House’ – she has a great rapport with the crows and is certainly one to watch.

We are introduced to the main act through an insides-trembling play of Nina Simone’s ‘I Wish I Knew How It Feels To Be Free’ – it’s supercool and atmospheric as the band take to the stage.

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The bass player wears a ‘not my president’ t-shirt as we’re told it “feels like tomorrow is the end of the world” – yep, this will be a politically charged gig.

The new record is to be released in March, called The Navigator so we’re set to hear a great deal from that. But the crowd are singling along to their first few numbers.

The sound is as clean as on a record, though Cluny 2’s acoustics means backing vocals are a bit lost. It’s clear the crowd are loving it though, as much as the band themselves as they nod their heads and fall into their songs.

Sadly I had to exit early due to a migraine. Perhaps the Trump effect had kicked in early for me. My colleague and photographer, Andy Lochrie kindly fills in the gaps, below.

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The set contained a great mix of old favourites such as the wonderful ‘The Body Electric’ and some new material, and I’m sure this new material is destined to become as equally loved by their fan base over time.

Great performances of the early album tasters, ‘Hungry Ghost’ and the funky ‘Rican Beach’ went down well with the delighted audience. The title track from the new album ‘The Navigator’ returned the evening to a more traditional alt country feel, as did others including older song ‘Young Blood Blues.’

From the audience reaction to the new songs there shouldn’t be any reason why the band won’t have a successful album on their hands and as the evening drew to a close they dropped in a snarling cover version of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song ‘Fortunate Son.’ The Trump factor was never going to be far from Alynda’s thoughts it seemed.

There was a healthy and appreciative buzz in the venue as the capacity audience filed their way up the stairs and into the cool evening air.

Photographer (and wordsmith!) – Andy Lochrie

Jess Volpe

Jess Volpe

I am a bit of a music geek with a very eclectic mix in musical tastes (generally veering towards bearded rock bands of the 70s and the indie bands of the 00s). After spending three years in London, I recently moved back to Newcastle to start my own business in digital marketing where I specialise in social media. I tinker occasionally in playing music myself, but I love going to gigs and enjoying the talents of others (whilst secretly wishing I could do that).
Jess Volpe

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