September 8, 2010
Cedar Cultural Center
You'd think that waiting forever would make this a breeze to write up. But i'm still of two minds about this show.
On one hand, it's billy bragg, lads! I've been a fan since i checked out a crappy cassette of Back to Basics from the minneapolis public library way back when. And other than seeing him play out in the cold in front of coffman union when i was a freshman in college (he was his firebrandy best--even though i didn't know him from adam---i just figured he was a student) i'd always been meaning to see him in concert.
on the other hand, he was entirely too casual and lackadaisical for a packed house and a $25 ticket (does anyone else see the slight irony of a kinda pricey ticket when he's touring solo?---just askin', just sayin').
so...you got your super wobbly start, with stops and starts on songs, forgotten lyrics and a really really awful out of tune voice (nobody would think he has a great or even good voice, but this was bullfrog being stepped on bad). repeated bids to pick up merchandise (i know the economy is bad, but et tu, billy?) and although you expect politics from mr. bragg, suddenly it didn't seem so much politics as lectures and even a little hectoring...i want righteous anger and indignation, not peace, love, understanding and a fifteen minute discourse on being good to your neighbor (clearly he hasn't seen my 60 year old downstairs neighbor come flying out of her unit in a rage---and her see through nightie). (ooh, just realized how much my politics have changed over the years) hell...even his accent was bad. for this i left the couch? (oh yeah, some tall a-hole decided to come late and sardine his way to stand right in front of me..."i gotta stand somewhere." grrr)
but then you got your positives. mr. bragg (regardless of the topic) is still an utterly charming story teller (if i'd let anyone lecture me, he would be the one), and after a cup of tea (at least i think it was tea) his voice more or less came back to a reasonable facsimile of the creak (not croak) we know and love. and really, the loose ramshackle nature of the show certainly had an off the cuff charm, like he was in your living room instead of the cedar room.
and the songs, the songs, the songs. i guess the songs made the difference.
a new england
tank park salute
the new brunette,
i really liked the pressure drop songs too. (memo to self, see if those are still on the bragg website)
so what am i saying? i dunno. not sure if it was worth $25. (more like $18) just guess there's a little caveat emptor with him and that was a bit of a surprise. so.... go if you wanna go, let him be who he wants to be, do whatever?