Billy Bragg @ Rough Trade East 17th March 2013

Taking place at Rough Trade East was an instore by Billy Bragg. Billy’s brand new album was being released the day after. What was showcased was material from the new LP Tooth and Nail as well as a couple of oldies. I decided to attend on the basis of how much I enjoyed seeing Billy play at the Roundhouse back in 2008. Plus the fact that I love A New England may also be a factor why I like Bragg’s music.

“Welcome, I might just nod off in here. The last time I went to bed I was in Austin, Texas and it was Friday night. So it maybe all a bit sort of strange for me up here. But welcome to this event” Billy said before launching into the first oldie of the night and this being Sexuality. This song featured on the 1991 album Don’t Try This At Home. This was an anti homophobia tune which was superbly delivered. It was actually written with Johnny Marr. I rather enjoyed the powerful lyrics and I especially liked its middle 8. “I was dedicating that to the people fighting hard to bring equal marriage to the great state of Texas. They had an incident, I don’t think it made it in the news over here. But last week an American Republican senator discovered that his son was gay and he suddenly came out in favour of gay marriage which was amazing. I just couldn’t help what he might of done if he had discovered his son was poor” Billy then went onto say. It was then onto the first new track of the set and this being No One Knows Nothing Anymore. This was more Folk compared to Sexuality it actually sounded rather incredible. The vocals were soft and gentle. It was also slightly political as it mentioned “What happens when the markets drop” and I think the opening verse was referring to the Large Hadron Collider. Handyman Blues was next and this was another song from the new album. It was perfectly delivered and it had been superbly written. What I enjoyed the most was the fact that you can easily picture what is happening from its lyrics. This tune was rather slick and the vocals were superb. What followed on was Shirley which went down well with the audience. This was another old song which was an audience pleaser. “This new record is kind of like in some ways is me exploring again that avenue that was first opened up in collaboration with Wilco and Woodrow Wilson Guthrie. Coming on the back of that album we had a little bit of local difficulty with the British National Party. I never really explored that pathway that opened up” Bragg then said referring to the previous album Mermaid Avenue. It was then onto I Ain’t Got No Home which is over 100 years old. Billy has been covering this song for years and he definitely made this steady paced Folk song his own. The track that kicks the new record off was next on the night and this being January Song. This was the final new song off the record to be showcased and it was delivered superbly. There was the strong Folk vibe, it was played at a steady pace and January Song was also incredibly short. “I want to do something special as it’s also St Patrick’s day today. It’s a song that takes place in the streets of Dublin and it has a Dublin postcode. But it’s not really a song about Dublin. I would argue it’s not an Irish song. It’s more interesting than that. It’s really a song about song writing” Bragg said before embarking on the penultimate song of the evening. On Raglan Road was a Patrick Kavanagh poem originally recorded by Luke Kelly. This was strongly delivered the vocals were strong and Billy put his own stamp of originality onto it. “Despite the fact that I have got in from Texas I have a gig on Friday night Denver, Colorado. But I will be back sometime in the summer. Hopefully with a bit more sleep” Billy then said before signing off with the political and quirky Waiting For The Great Leap Forward.

SET LIST

Sexuality
No One Knows Nothing Anymore
Handyman Blues
Shirley
I Ain’t Got No Home
January Song
On Raglan Road
Waiting For The Great Leap Forward

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