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Billy Bragg |  Folkestone, Leas Cliff Hall Live Review

Black Friday, the founder of Red Wedge Billy Bragg played highlights from ‘The First Pandemic Blues Album of Our Time’ and much more as it wowed audiences at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone. On the penultimate date of his UK tour, Bragg returned to the Kent coast, where he remembered years earlier having performed “in a basement or cellar”, to perform in front. a full house, all seated. Billy joked back when he performed on a stage no more than two feet tall in front of a crowd he “had lost control” when today the crowd “can’t control themselves. . that’s why there is an interval “.

Bragg’s first visit to Folkestone was with Andy Kershaw during the “Bragg mania” era when he described his technique as “bash ’em out Bragg”. Almost four decades later, Billy Bragg has mellowed out a bit, got older, and learned to sing. He apologized at one point for his “slightly gruff voice” but went on to say, “Anyone who heard me back then, it’s not that different,” continued, saying: ” I did it Life is a riot rappelling once, almost killed me. “Someone once said to his manager,” Oh man, I feel like I saw Bill back then, as he really was “and his manager said,” Oh, no, no, no, he couldn’t play those songs for shit back then, he’s so much better now. ”Billy Bragg certainly hasn’t lost any of his charisma, his ability to captivate a crowd or his passion for opinions that it is expensive.

Billy started the night off with an old fan favorite from 1984 – A lover sings, a song from his second album – Brew with. He then followed that up with a new lead – I should have seen it coming from his latest album – The million things that never happened. Bragg said the title song on his last record was written specifically about the pandemic but the rest of the album used it as a “backdrop”. In all, Billy featured five songs from the 12-track album he released via Cooking Vinyl on October 29.

The last song on Billy’s new album was co-written with his son, Jack Valero. Ten mysterious photos that can’t be explained, a song inspired by a pop-up still featured at the bottom of Billy’s YouTube page, was edited at the request of Jack’s mother after Valero said his father was reluctant to make the changes he said , would make the song better; including having the song title as a chorus. Both that and self-reflection Mid-century modern from the start of the set, pleased the partisan crowd very well, but it was probably the last of his new songs that seemed to have the most resonance. Billy’s ballad, I will be your shield, held the audience mesmerized as they sang, “In the battle against your demons. I will be your shield. When the world has lost all meaning. Together we will defend our love. This is the only thing there is. real “.

Bragg’s ability to write songs that have an immediate and lasting connection to his audience is clearly not diminished as he mixes his new material perfectly with the old one. He was however keen not to wallow in the ’80s and purposely did not play New England, or, because he “couldn’t remember the rap in the middle”, The Saturday Boy. He did however offer the Folkestone crowd a fabulous version of the two Tears of Levi Stubbs and Sexuality from his era “Pop-star Bragg” and went on to perform a pretty brilliant version of The milkman of human goodness of his first EP, Life is a riot with Spy vs. Spy.

Billy Bragg |  Folkestone, Leas Cliff Hall Live Review

Between almost every song, Bragg has engaged with his audience to talk about the whole mansion, including Rick Astley and Blossoms (his “contest” from Cardiff), Adele, Morrissey, The Sage in Gateshead – “hence the government get his advice … don’t wear a coat in winter … no need to wear tights on a hen night, “80s nightclubs, Johnny Cash, The Ramones and, just once or twice – Margaret Thatcher.

The most poignant moment of the evening came towards the very end of the night. After dividing his performance in half with an interval, and playing a catchy take of There is power in a union, Bragg returned, due to the enthusiasm of the Kent crowd, to the Leas Cliff Hall stage for a three-track encore that included his closing signing. While waiting for the big leap forward, Walk away Renée and Distant shore.

Billy’s concert the night before had been in Southend, at the Cliffs Pavilion, and Bragg said there he said something to his tour manager “that his father was saying to him as he looked across the street. the Thames – ‘It’s France over there.’ And then we got here tonight just as the sun was setting across the Channel, and I couldn’t help but think about what happened this week … Something my mom once told me, came to me. said, we were talking about people who were desperately trying to get into the country, and how far they were going, and she said, well you know if there was somewhere in the world where i knew you and your brother would have a decent chance of a lifetime i would do whatever in my heart. power to get you there. I thought about it yesterday while reading this news. “You could have heard a fly fly as the audience listened to every note and every word of Distant shore.

Billy Bragg’s return to Folkestone on the penultimate night of his UK tour showcased the singer-songwriter’s extraordinary talent on an evening where he was totally engaging, articulate and, as always, open, honest and passionate. Always a national treasure, always not to be missed.


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