Monday, May 01, 2006

Red Billy

Billy Bragg
Wolfrun Hall
23 April 2006
Review by Den Tenksomme Vraslosken

The singer-songwriter and political activist Billy Bragg returned to Wolverhampton Wolfrun Hall last night, as he continued his Anti-BNP tour.

Part folk concert, part stand up comedy act, part sing-along and part political protest, seeing Bragg live gives you a real taste of what Billy is all about. On this occasion a near sell-out crowd of 40 and 50-somethings came together to celebrate the revolution that never was. Looking around me I realized I was among the youngest (and poorest dressed) in the crowd.

Playing solo, just him and his guitar, this was always going to be a personal and intimate experience. But as he slightly ironically started the set with his own English translation of the socialist anthem “The Internationale”, the grey haired audience joined in with looks in their faces which more than anything else expressed melancholy and memories of that socialist movement in the seventies and early eighties.

Accepting the applause that followed, Billy took the microphone, saying: “so now you‘re telling each other it‘s going to be one of those political Billy Bragg concerts?” The polite laughter that followed spoke volumes, and when he went on by telling us what we already knew, that the reason for his current tour is to make people aware of the threat imposed by the BNP, the political correctness of it all was hard to ignore. But still, political correctness is better than fascism, isn‘t it?

Billy Bragg is a well spoken and charismatic man, a man who is considered a spokesman of socialists and the working man. The problem is there weren‘t anybody to convince in this audience. I would be surprised if there was a single person present who are even contemplating voting BNP in the coming local election, or who prefers Adam Smith‘s analysis of economy to that of Karl Marx‘, for that matter.

Songs like “Northern industrial town” and “A new England” had the crowd singing along. Billy Bragg gave us what we wanted, as I looked around me I could tell just how much the audience enjoyed remembering their youth and times passed by.

But his set wasn‘t all politics, as one would expect from a Billy Bragg concert. His political protest set aside, this is a man who is considered one of the finest singer-songwriters of his generation.

Songs like “Everybody loves you babe” and “At my window sad and lonely” were embraced by a powerful yet sensitive applause, and served as a reminder there luckily is more to life than politics. There is also love.


Anonymous Yvonne said...

On behalf of my second home, the civic, i have to correct a spelling mistake: it's Wulfrun Hall. Just in case somebody wants to go there one day and receive excellent bar service... ;D

10:53 AM  

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