Billy Bragg @ The Usher Hall

more than a dash of righteous anger

Article by Nine | 15 Jun 2006
Some folk believe that music and politics shouldn't mix. That was never Billy Bragg's style, and now he's suffering some unforeseen consequences: a recurring nightmare in which he's reading the paper in the bath and David Cameron cycles up to hand him a stick of rhubarb and tell him he's a big fan. It takes more than that to put him off, though, and with the BNP having recently won eleven seats in his hometown of Barking, this tour - Hope Not Hate - is perhaps more urgently political than ever. He may be preaching to the converted, admittedly, but he's urging us not to downplay what may seem only a distant threat ("Do you remember Tories?" he asks the audience. "We still have them in England"). As for the music, it's a fairly even mix of politics and lovesongs, with both Bragg's voice and guitar raw as ever, accompanied for much of the gig by Ian McLagan (Small Faces) on Hammond organ and keyboards. The Usher Hall is a far cry from his first gig at North London Poly's Sociology Disco, and tickets are considerably more expensive, but Bragg gives good value by performing for a couple of hours, punctuating each song with entertaining anecdotes and more than a dash of righteous anger. [Nine]