It’s interesting to see old radicals like John Cooper Clarke, Paul Weller or the Specials either on or lining up to go on tour, (although it’s not quite clear where the ex-Jam man’s socialist principles are when he’s charging sixty odd quid a ticket at some venues), especially in the light of the catastrophic cuts of the Coalition government, it almost feels like 1984 again, almost. So thank god then for the Milkman of Human Kindness himself, Billy Bragg.
There is something brilliantly reliable about the Barking songwriter and political campaigner, a national institution yes, but one who refuses to sit still and rest on his not inconsiderable laurels. Of course he pleases the healthy looking crowd (despite the snow) with classics like Sexuality, World Turned Upside Down and A Lover Sings but it is his between song raps which cause most surprise and entertainment. At one point there is a shocked hush when he candidly announces that he (mistakenly) voted for the Liberal Democrats in the last election. Unlike Nick Clegg, though, there is no compromise with Bragg, if anything he seems feistier and somewhat more leery as he deals expertly with the inevitable heckles.
After a touching and welcome rendition of Tank Park Salute, from the underrated Don’t Try This At Home LP, the Rock City faithful are treated to a rousing version of New England, replete with extra verse for the late Kirsty MacColl. In increasingly insecure political times, come the next election, whether there’s a box to tick or not, my vote’s with Bragg.
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