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‘Fight Song’ singer Rachel Platten performs intimate concert in Cambridge

Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Rachel Platten performed Monday at Sonia in Cambridge.

By Kaitlyn Locke Globe Correspondent 

Rachel Platten, best known for her soulful 2015 pop single “Fight Song,” which last year became the Democratic National Convention’s anthem for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, returned to Boston to perform to a sold-out crowd at the live music venue Sonia on Monday night.

Though sold out, the show — the first of a short nationwide tour promoting her new album, “Waves” — felt intimate by the small size of the venue. Platten, clad in a hot pink sequined bodysuit, stood on a raised stage so close to the audience that twice, her sneaker came untied and a fan retied it for her.

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“This felt really raw, and really unpolished in a way,” Newton native Platten said in an interview with the Globe after the show. “It was really beautiful to see tears in people’s eyes. That was the thing I noticed the most — tears and also seeing how many people knew all the lyrics already. It’s really nice to be so close to my fans.”

The 36-year-old singer was raised in Newton Centre and told the audience during the show that it felt special to play for her “favorite hometown crowd.” She performed for the first time “Hands,” a song she wrote for her grandmother, a Boston native, who passed away as Platten was beginning to write the album. It felt right to sing it Monday evening, Platten said.

“I wrote [“Hands”] really soon after she died,” Platten said. “I wanted to play it tonight because I’m in my hometown. I was at my parents’ piano all weekend and I practiced it and I felt really close to her, and it felt like the right place to debut it.”

After opening with “Stand By You” from her 2016 album, “Wildfire,” Platten mainly sang songs from her new album, telling the audience about each song’s meaning. The album name, “Waves,” comes from advice Platten once got from a friend.

“I’m really emotional, obviously, you can tell by my music — and they were explaining to me that I didn’t have to be so rocked by the highs and lows,” Platten said, tugging on a fraying piece of her costume backstage.

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Many in the audience had special connections to Platten’s music — especially “Fight Song.” Jill Livsey, 16, of Coventry, R.I., said Platten’s music motivated her to stay strong as she battled an eating disorder the past year.

“I can’t even put into words what she means to me,” Livsey said, clutching handmade signs she made for Platten. “Her songs are what got me through.”

Livsey attended the concert with her best friend, Hailey Wilcox, also 16, and her mother, Karen Livsey, who skipped a class she was supposed to teach in order to attend.

“Only for Rachel,” she said.

Meagan Thomas, 33, came from her home in Florida to attend Monday night’s show. It’s not unusual — Thomas has traveled across the country to see Platten perform, she said. Having been diagnosed with a serious illness in 2009 that led to an intestinal transplant and years of medical problems, Thomas also said that Platten’s music is what got her through.

“Last year, one of the only things I remember of the six- to eight-week coma I was in was my sister playing ‘Fight Song,’ ” Thomas said. Even after the coma, the anthem was the only thing that calmed her. “Her music has been my rock for a while now.” Her manicured fingernails were painted to spell out “Waves” on her left hand.

One of the new songs, “Broken Glass” — which includes the lyrics “I’m gonna dance on broken glass/ I’m gonna make that ceiling crash” — has evolved in meaning for Platten herself.

“I was thinking about all of these amazingly brave women who refused to be silenced. And speak up when people don’t want them to,” Platten said, of the women who’ve recently spoken out about their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. “This song has kind of taken on a different meaning for me now, after the past month. I know how scary it is to speak up when it’s uncomfortable, and I’m really amazed by all these women, and by the world in general for supporting us, and saying yeah, ‘Me too, me too.’ ”


Kaitlyn Locke can be reached at kaitlyn.locke@globe.com
Follow her on Twitter at @ke_locke.