Billy Bragg at Dolans

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Billy Bragg has lost none of his edge after all these years and none of his humour either.

You’ll find my CDs  in the Folk section, he tells a capacity crowd in Dolan’s Warehouse.  I used to be New Wave.  But at least in Folk, you’re actively encouraged to get old.

He’s good.  A fine player pulling off a trick that most people could never manage: standing alone in front of a crowd with an electric guitar and no band.  That’s the sort of thing you expect in a school concert, and even then it doesn’t work, but it sure as hell works for Billy as he lashes out song after song, about everything from teenage heartbreak to occupying Wall Street.

He can be a bit preachy now and then,  but he wins us back every time with some foot-stompin’ ditty or maybe a little Woodie Guthrie.  He talks his way through the whole set, telling stories, explaining his outlook on the world, constantly returning to the theme of injustice he has fought for over thirty years.

He’s not naive enough to think that music can change anything, but what it can do is bring likeminded people together.  He tells us about working in an office full of sexist racist idiots (with sideburns), of how he kept his head down and said nothing until the day he attended a Clash concert in Victoria Park and in the vast crowd, realised he wasn’t the only kid in London who felt this way.   That was the start of Billy Bragg’s journey from average Barking lad to social campaigner.

You can’t be cynical, Billy says.  You have to keep on plugging away.  As he puts it, a cynic is someone who gave up and wants you to give up as well to make him feel better.

What an excellent definition.

Billy is unusual in a world full of mega-rich hypocrite rock-stars like Bono: a musician who doesn’t treat social justice as a fashion accessory.  He’s still passionate, he still cares, he’s still rocking all these years later.

He even cares enough about Manchester United supporters to give out a helpline number: 061 61 61 61.








4 thoughts on “Billy Bragg at Dolans

  1. Hello Mr. Bock. I like your site. It is very informative.
    You also have funny.
    I like Mr.Bragg’s definition there. It is très bien as we say back home.
    One must try not become too cynical in this day and age of all corruptions and inequities. Render unto Caesar and all them malarkys.

    New age/folk – he’s good!

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