Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Billy Bragg and I have previous. Lots of previous.
I'll go into that later because tonight, tonight in the ice and the snow and sudden mid gig queasiness about the difficult journey home I fell in love with Billy Bragg. Fell in love all over again.
I stood in the middle, twenty feet from the front, surrounded by other greying, bellied fans. Intermingled were the newer cohorts of fans but for the most part the audience reflected the main attraction, middle aged, self depreciatory and curious.
I wasn't beering it up and there was no smoke, it was my first HD gig.
Twenty years ago I had been at the same gig in another part of town and had listened to Billy rail against nostalgia. He had no time for it, the struggle had to move onwards, not back. Therefore he was not going to play any of the old stuff. That , along with every album after 'Workers Playtime' and up to 'Mermaid Avenue' put Billy on the back burner. I was 18 and he was singing about the difficulties involved with getting a decent babysitter.
Times change. Tonight I got a decent babysitter and drove the car to the University and watched Billy rail through his classic back catalogue. I don't think it's nostalgia, I think he has understood that he's an entertainer and that we want to be entertained, entertained by some of the most wonderful, lyrical, rock and roll of the past 30 years. We were also entertained and provoked by his observations, the banter and the two drunken extremists who started a fight in the corner and got thrown out. This would not have been relevant had it not been right at the front and the security men taken a long and somewhat heavy handed approach to the whole proceedings. It was almost like a piece of tourism form the 1980s.
A wonderful night, just what the soul had been asking for. Just what the ears needed.