Review: Political folk icon Billy Bragg plays Adelaide Town Hall

Published: 01/11/2012   by:

HE is older and greyer but the fire of righteous anger remains undimmed in the great Billy Bragg.

That distinctive raspy, gravelly voice filled the Adelaide Town Hall last night with songs of love and loss, politics and injustice but delivered in such an optimistic spirit you left the joint almost believing the world was yours to change.

Bragg divided the set into two parts. The first featured the songs of American folk icon Woody Guthrie. Bragg has been working with folk outfit Wilco since 1999 setting to music some of the thousands of lyrics Guthrie left behind when he died in 1967.

Its been a fruitful collaboration and Bragg last night spoke expansively about Guthrie's life and influence as well as singing songs from the Mermaid Avenue project.

She Came Along to Me, a song written about Guthrie's wife Majorie, an early feminist, was dedicated to Tony Abbott. There was a rousing rendition of All You Fascists and a beautiful version of Go Down to the Water, which reverberated around the crystal clear acoustics in the Town Hall.

The second half of the show was all classic Billy Bragg.

Sprinkled among the well-known tunes such as the anthemic Power in a Union and the touching Tank Park Salute, Bragg kept the audience entertained with a well-honed banter than ranged from stand-up comedy to polemic.

There were stomping versions of Greetings to the New Brunette and Levi Stubbs Tears before Bragg rounded off the night with a reworked Great Leap Forward, which took a crack at UK Prime Minister David Cameron and his sidekick Nick Clegg, and an audience singalong of A New England.

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