Monday, November 7, 2011

Billy Bragg Live @ Dolans Warehouse October 24th, 2011

Billy Bragg live at Dolans
Essex born political activist, singer-songwriter and all round one man entertainer Billy Bragg took in Dolan's Warehouse, Limerick as part of his nationwide Irish tour on October 24th last. A packed house on a cold Monday night was no mean feat for any musician armed with just a guitar and set list often dominated by protest songs. However Bragg's following hasn't just developed in a short period, its 28 years odd since his first solo album called 'Life's A Riot With Spy Vs Spy' was released. His long and varied career has brought us 14 studio albums, among the highlights include the 1986 release 'Talking To The Taxman About Poetry' containing one of my favourite songs of his called 'Levi Stubbs Tears'.

Billy Bragg became a familiar troubadour throughout the 80's with appearances on British shows as diverse as 'Top Of The Pops' and 'The Tube' and 'The Old Grey Whistle Test'
Probably his most familiar song 'New England' which was also covered by the late Kirsty McColl and thankfully he played in his Limerick show always reminds me of my early childhood and my memories of listening to BBC  Radio.
It was joyous to finally see this man perform live and incidentally, this was his first ever visit to Limerick which made it that bit more special. His charming wit and talent for storytelling between songs certainly added all the more magic to the gig and left me feeling very glad to have been there. My admiration for this mans music and ideas have grown steadily especially since his 1998 collaboration with Wilco on the 'Mermaid Avenue' album that was born out of an idea by Nora Guthrie.
Many finished lyrics by Woddy Guthrie were given to Bragg by Woody's daughter Nora to be recorded as songs, none of these lyrics had music written for them previously. Bob Dylan would later mention in his 'Chronicles' autobiography that the project was originally meant for him years previously.
'Mermaid Avenue' and later 'Mermaid Avenue' Volume 2  (released in 2000) are defining records in Billy Bragg's and indeed Wilco's careers.
His latest album is called ' Fight Songs' and comprises 11 tracks that were made available as free downloads on his website over the past decade. After the gig Billy gladly signed copies of the CD and chatted to fans, further proving that he is a true gentleman  and reaches out to people in more ways than one. No wonder he has such a huge following.
While on tour in Ireland he dropped into the Newstalk studios in Dublin to give an interview with Tom Dunne, click on the link below to hear it...

This is 'It Says Here' one of Bragg's earlist songs which Im glad to say is still included in his latest setlists.

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