Live Review – Billy Bragg – Birmingham Town Hall 25.11.23

You Only Have To Remember The Name

Billy Brag brought his #TheRoaringForty Tour to the iconic Birmingham Town Hall on Saturday evening playing to a packed house of over 1000 fans old and new.

Opening with a 40 minute video showcasing Billy’s history for the under 30’s who’d need help from an I Phone to get a better understanding about who he was.

Billy enters the stage, dressed in a smart Shacket (Google it, but it isn’t Paul Weller) and with his trusty musicians, who swap instruments throughout the 25 song set, who due to their “Millennial contracts” only play seven songs before having to go off stage for toasties and play video games, jokes a clearly on form Billy as he has the crowd in the palm of his hand, all watching with smiles on their faces as Billy tells tales from his 40 years in the business.

Billy’s ability to weave a narrative into the beginnings of a song has always been his strength, and is part of the reason he calls himself “The big nosed bard from Barking”

Not one to rest on his laurels, Billy explains that he has updated lyrics to some of his most known songs to reflect the changing of the world, most notably after having a discussion with a LBQT+ supporter, “because its no longer radical to have a drink with a gay guy”

Billy updated the lyrics to include the Trans community in a bid to help with inclusion, much like the battles the gay community faced in the 1980’s.

Whilst the millennials were off stage Billy gave the best response to an audience members shouted request – “You only have to remember the name of the song” which brought a round of laughter and applause from the devoted crowd.

Billy told a funny tale about how he became a fan of Oliver Anthony and his song “Rich Men North of Richmond” until the second verse, and felt compelled to write a response song in the form of “Rich Men Earning North of a Million” Thankfully there were no Americans in the crowd and Billy was able to continue the show unscathed.

With over 40 years in the business, Billys vision of humanity and hope has never wavered and nor has his song writing ability and ability to captive an audience for nearly 3 hours. His voice might not be able to hit the high notes like it used to, but I’d happily sit through a show of Kenny Rogers/ Johnny Cash covers – and we had a small peak of “Folsom Prison Blues” and I wanted more, and so did band member CJ Hillman.

A top night in Birmingham was capped off with the crowd all singing along to ‘A New England’

The Roaring Forty tour continues to sold out crowds in December and the album of the same name is available here

Now can we hear ‘Islands in the stream”?

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