Hurray for the Riff Raff at Gateshead Central Bar
There are scores of reasons why a gig can leave music fans feeling short-changed. Sometimes the venue is cold and unwelcoming or the support act isn’t the right choice and sometimes the headline act is feeling under the weather but needs the fee.
Tonight; none of those things were applicable and a sold-out concert room played host to a magnificent pairing of Holy Moly and the Crackers from the Bohemian Quarter of Newcastle and Hurray for the Riff Raff from New Orleans; who were both well on top of their game.
Holy Moly are reminiscent of the Waterboys or even the Pogues in their formative days and appeared to play their debut album FIRST AVENUE in full; with vocals shared by Conrad Bird and the delightful Ruth Patterson; who also plays a pretty mean fiddle.
Tonight; the quartet were supplemented by a Cowtipper Double Bass player and the trumpet of JT Mullen; who sounds like he was born in Basin Street. The songs; normally very good, took on a brand new lease of life and the threat of actual dancing was ever present during the short set.
The magnificent Comfort in Lies was played quite early and quickly won over the Riff Raff fans, judging by the cheers at the end. I’ve also got to tell you that at one stage Conrad was playing his guitar so violently he bust a string, but didn’t want to break the mood that they had created so played the last 3 songs using just 5 strings!
I could rave about each song; but suffice to say the frantic finale Devil and The Danube which featured a fiddle-accordion face off had a queue forming to buy the CD before the band had left the stage.
That set the scene nicely for Hurray for the Riff Raff whose latest CD LOOK OUT MAMA is garnering some very complimentary reviews.
Opening song My Little Black Star featured some delightful harmonies and even had the band doing Appalachian handclaps and clog dancing.
Look Out Mama from the album of the same name upped both the tempo and the temperature in the compact room as Alynda Lee’s crystal clear voice and yodeling filled the rafters.
This was followed by one of my favourite Riff Raff songs – Slow Walk and tonight’s version was simply beautiful with Yosi Perlstein supplying what could only be described as ‘Scottish Presbyterian’ fiddle playing with not a single note being wasted in any shape or form.
After a couple more songs Perlstein and drummer Sam Doores swapped instruments as Alynda Lee sang two songs on her lonesome. I love Hurray for the Riff Raff but would pay good money to see the young Puerto Rican play a solo set; as she was spellbinding.
The concert was immediately taken to a whole other level as the new format started with What’s Wrong With Me? which packed some of the finest harmonies and acoustic guitar playing I’ve heard in a long time, into three short minutes.
As Lee and Doores sparked off each other, all I can say is Doores must have inherited Robert Johnson’s guitar at some time, because I’ve never heard a sound like the one he delivered tonight on the sultry St. Rock Blues.
Hurray for the Riff Raff don’t sound like any other band; they squeeze folk, Blues and Country together then sprinkle them with a pinch of Ragtime and a splash of Jazz to create a sound all of their very own.
The night ended in a nicely shambolic fashion with the Riff Raff being called back for a third encore which necessitated a band conference before they launched into the Ronettes, Be My Baby.
This really was ‘one of those nights’ and yet again the Jumping Hot Club did is proud with a pairing made in Music Heaven.