Friday, November 9, 2012

Billy Bragg

One of the highlights of my trip to the west was heading out on the Friday night and seeing Billy Bragg perform. I haven't seen Bragg for a good few years so I was pretty happy that I managed to pull it off, despite my initial discovery that I'd be out of the state when he appeared in Adelaide.
I'd bought the Perth tickets well in advance so it was something of a relief to be actually standing there, ten yards from the stage. Nothing had gone wrong, everything had fallen into place.
Jordie Lane opened the show and did a great job, no doubt winning himself some new fans.
After a short break, Billy Bragg appeared on stage.

The first half of the performance comprised the latest instalment of Bragg's ongoing Woody Guthrie roadshow, presented in equal parts story and song. Although Bragg suggested it might be a warts 'n' all recounting of the Guthrie legend, it was, in fact, a warm and friendly tribute.
After a short interval, Bragg returned to the stage, strapped on his Telecaster and played a bunch of his own songs. Fifteen of the Bard of Barking's classics from times old and new. As much as I like Woody Guthrie, this was what I was waiting for. High points included The Price I Pay, Scousers Never Buy The Sun, Sin City (with Jordie Lane), I Keep Faith and the sublime Tank Park Salute. Sure, some of the introductions to songs are getting a bit long in the tooth for those of us lucky enough to own multiple concert recordings, and there was a tendency to perhaps bang on just a little too long, but I think most of the audience very much appreciated an artist who is willing to connect with his audience.
After a generous performance, Bragg finished the evening with an updated Great Leap Forward, and crowd-favourite New England (dedicated to Kirsty McColl).

At the end of New England, he put down his guitar, saluted, threw his tea bag at me, and left the stage.

Guthrie (partial): Ingrid Bergman, Way Over Yonder In the Minor Key, Slipknot, Go Down To the Water, Another Man's Done Gone, All You Fascists
Bragg: The Price I Pay, Sexuality, Distant Shore, Tomorrow's Going To Be a Better Day, Greetings To the New Brunette, Must I Paint You a Picture, Scousers Never Buy The Sun, Sin City (with Jordie Lane), The Milkman Of Human Kindness, Levi Stubbs' Tears, I Keep Faith, There Is Power In a Union
Encore: Tank Park Salute, Great Leap Forward, New England

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