Thursday, December 14, 2006


Billy Bragg storms the Town Hall

Billy Bragg is always a good entertainer. He can play the guitar well and his singing isn't bad; his stories are interesting and his delivery confident; he's not scared to stand up for what he believes in and woe betide any hecklers that haven't thought ahead past their first few words. I have a lot of respect for the man even though I don't always share the same socialist point of view or taste in Woody Guthrie records.

So we are here in Reading to see Billy again - we caught him in Cardiff in April - and this is his 70th (!) gig so far in 2006. Tonight Billy performed a two set show (no support) and its only now that I realise that - as usual - there were no backing musicians. Just his voice and a guitar - you don't notice that the rest of the stage is empty; it doesn't occur to you to wonder where the drummer or bassist are - they're just not needed. Even when there SHOULD be another musician, such as a trumpet player, it's not important - as Billy said during "The Saturday Boy", you just fill that part in from memory.

Billy is an act that grows old but doesn't age. I'm sure he has changed since I first saw him on stage back in the early 1980s but not in any ways that matter. I don't think "he's still going?" like I do for some other acts, like the groups that have become tribute bands to themselves with a handful of songs the audience recognise and nothing new to offer (or, at least, nothing worth listening to). With Billy Bragg you feel that his life does go on instead of just being a looped recording of some past period of popularity. So good luck to him. And don't forget - Stop The BNP. It amazes me that people believe a word they say.

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