I was late to bed on a school night this week because of this man, Billy Bragg a rare occurence these days. It was nearly midnight before I got home after driving back from Exeter University What’s happened to me? When I was a student there in the old days clubbing three or four nights a week was the norm. Now I’m grumpier than a big grumpy thing the next day with one late night. Before I turned in I did manage to get in a story on Duolingo and save my continuous streak without waiting precious crystal on buying a day off. It’s just a measure of how addicted that I am to language learning. There are probably worse things.
Billy Bragg has been around since my teenage years. As he reminded us he’s been on the scene long enough to be featured in Smash Hits once, albeit the German version. That magazine was the source of my Gary Numan pin ups, who funnily enough I’ll be seeing in 2022. That was in the days when my taste was for men who exuded pasty angst. It’s evolved to meaty burliness now. Where was I? I appear to have gone off track, Ah yes, Billy was never really on my radar in my younger ’80s years. He probably wasn’t pretty boy enough. I was more stereotypical Essex girl then and even though Billy hales from the same county I didn’t meet blokes with his ideology driving around in their Ford Capris. No, he only came to my attention at a festival about ten years ago. HIs earnestness, wit, poetry and above all, sense of justice, appealed to my more grown up self.
So with a poorly partner who’s unable to tread the boards I co-opted a younger music loving colleague to come with me and use my spare ticket. She knew about Billy having been educated by her parents so was quite excitable. Oh wait. That’s her normal demeanour, probably why we get on in spite of the age gap. And there’s a shared commitment in our working lives to do the best that we possibly can to change the lives of men that are at the bottom of the pile. We both agreed that we’d love Billy to do a Johnny Cash at Folsom Jail type performance. I think he’d be the man for the job.
We had balcony seats at the front, hence why my concert pictures are rather less fuzzy than normal. Along with old favourites, Billy was playing tracks from his new album, ‘A Million Things That Never Happened’ written in lockdown. Very good it was too. There wasn’t an off track. I’ll be playing it obsessively in the car to get to know it for a while. This was one of my favourite numbers.
Now Billy is known for his left of centre politics and activism and he likes to spin a yarn. He loves a little chat with his audience and speaks fervently about his beliefs. it’s all part of the show. He’s mellower than in the old days but still as passionate. Of course he’s not a fan of this government and neither was he shy of promoting his pro vaccination stance. What resonated most was his repeated plea for people to show more empathy and compassion. I share much of this man’s ideology but these were the particular moments when I felt that we were definitely singing off the same hymn sheet.