Thursday, 8 November 2012

Billy Bragg - 19 October 2012, Hamer Hall

Urgh, two Billy Bragg gigs to put up and they suffer from opposite problems – one’s too quiet and the others too loud. This is the quiet one and as regular flyers will have heard me complain the killer is the dynamic range. Having said that, while this could probably be a bit better, it’s a lot better than the other quiet show, like Ryan Adams.

As far as I’m aware this is the only Woody 100 show outside of the UK. The Woody 100 shows are celebrations of the fact that this is the hundredth anniversary of Woody Guthrie’s birth, so the set is exclusively Woody Guthrie material (not all from the Mermaid Avenue albums). The gem from the non-Mermaid Avenue albums was Slipknot, a song about lynchings Guthrie witnessed growing up in Oklahoma. It was also interesting to hear Bragg speak extensively about each of the songs, providing detail about why they’d been chosen for the albums, or what they revealed about Guthrie.

The three encore songs were a bit of a letdown. Never Buy the Sun is a new song and Waiting for the Great Leap forward is a rewriting of an old song, both are fairly hamfisted jabs at the current state of affairs in England. Yarra Song is an outtake (released on the Australian version of England, Half English), that, while being a bit of a crowd pleaser given the local subject matter, isn’t really a great song. Putting that aside, the Guthrie portion of the show was both interesting and entertaining, which is a bit of feat really.

As I mentioned, the sound had to be cranked up to make everything audible, which results in a very faint bit of static. Hopefully nothing to worry most people. However, there was also a buzz throughout the show. I’ve got no idea why no one fixed it, but they didn’t. It’s drowned out during the songs, but can be pretty annoying during the discussions. Nothing I can do about that one unfortunately.

Against the Law
She Came Along to Me
The Unwelcome Guest
Ingrid Bergman
Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key
Black Wind Blowing
Don't You Marry
Dry Bed

I Guess I Planted
I Ain't Got No Home
I Was Born
My Flying Saucer
Pretty Boy Floyd
Go Down to the Water
Another Man's Done Gone
All You Fascists

Never Buy the Sun
Yarra Song
Waiting for the Great Leap Forward

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