Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
Everything comes full circle and in some cases it is with anger, the rage and resentment that what you first fought and rallied against in your younger days, somehow becomes the very political ideal that you have to fight and lyrically wrestle with once again; to see in your life time the hatred that others wear like lounge suits and serious ties return is to know that the battle against tyranny and vile fascism is an ongoing struggle but one that must always, with the keen eye of vigilance, be waged.
There are not many, due to circumstances, time or ability, who see the fight and are able to consistently hold it up to the light, to see all that a generation took on and kept at bay and take careful pot shots of barbed lyrical love at the ridiculousness of some people’s thinking; songs filled with dominant affection for those injured by the whims of society’s ever changeable face in the way they are raised by Government, media and sometimes the irresistible weakness offered. To Billy Bragg music is not just a way of life, it is the weapon of choice to take on the wrongs coveted by some in the world as they approach this mutual journey with greed and misguided deeds in their hearts.
To welcome back Billy Bragg to the Liverpool is to have a musical poet on the stage, the pen dipped in anger but with the soft voice of music in his heart, rampant, genuine, unafraid to say what needs to be voiced, the dig in the ribs and the hard stare in which you cannot help but take to your hearts as he performs songs from a much loved career.
To take on the Philharmonic Hall armed virtually throughout with just a guitar could be considered folly, sometimes even reckless, however with the truth and power of his convictions beside him, the audience inside the venue took once again this man of social justice and social belief along with for the ride. The non-stop, entertaining stories, the appreciation of words to heroes such as Saffiyah Khan, it would be fair to suggest that this was more than a gig, it was again a call to arms to show compassion, thought and reason in a world that has shot itself in the foot repeatedly in the last few years.
With songs such as the opener Sexuality, a tremendous cover of Woody Gutherie’s She Came Along To Me, Accident Waiting To Happen, The Saturday Boy, the beautiful Saffiyah Smiles, King Tide and The Sunny Day Flood, the beguiling Greetings To The New Brunette, Never Buy The Sun, to which garnered a deep felt ovation each time the chorus was sang, and There Is Power In A Union all leaving their mark on the night, to have Billy Bragg in Liverpool once more was the sign of deep and heartfelt solidarity between performer and audience.
A great night with one of Britain’s finest musical thinkers, Billy Bragg always seems to be the right man for the moment.
Ian D. Hall