Saturday, September 28, 2013

Still Bragging About Him, 30 Years Later

Billy Bragg
He's held up fine for his 55 years
(heck, he's just a youngster), but Billy Bragg
was joking that the beard wasn't
so much a fashion statement as
a way to "hide a multitude of chins."

Billy Bragg, Cedar Cultural Center, September 26, 2013.

I never thought I'd ever say I was too close at a concert, but I had brought a prime 85mm and ended up right up against the stage. I literally could have reached out and touched him--and since he generously spent time after the show (a good 2 1/2 hour show) signing and talking to people, I did get to touch him, as he allowed me a hug. Who knew how good socialists are at hugging? I guess it's just that communal, sharing spirit. :)

He played a nice balance of older, mid-career, and newer songs. I do think No One Knows Nothing has got to be one of his best recent songs. If he had played Levi Stubbs Tears, I probably could have just died happy then--but guess I'll have to live another day. Maybe he'll come back next year....

[Post pub note: I made no effort to write up something like an actual review of this performance at the time, and while I sort of regret that, it would have been difficult to produce anything more coherent than the above and perhaps a gurgle and a coo. Best leave well enough alone.]

My first Bragg concert, nearly 30 years ago.
Upside down set list.

Dear Lord, he's looking right at me.
Frankly, when that would happen I'd find myself lowering my camera.
I really didn't want the camera to be distracting, and seeing him staring straight at me through the
viewfinder made me worry that was exactly the case. Also, it was a bit discombobulating.
Ergo this out-of-focus shot, actually the best of any "head on" shot I got.
After the show, when I was getting things signed, he comments "You had a really good view."
"Yes," I said, grinning (undoubtedly like a maniac), "Yes, I did." Anyway, hope I wasn't a bother, Billy.

With guitarist CJ Hillman. Will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Another Hillman/Bragg shot.

CJ Hillman by himself.

Hidden yet effective drummer Luke Bullen.

Hopefully I have the band right- Bassist Matt Round.
I didn't get a photo of Owen Parker, since the keyboards blocked him even worse than the drums blocked Luke.

Autographed! First Bragg song I ever heard and fell for:
Scholarship Is the Enemy of Romance.
I'm such a geek.

The album on the right? He's celebrating the 30th anniversary of its release (UK 1983; US 1985).
But that's the original thing, not the re-release. Bought back in the day.
Drove 100 miles (uphill through snow both ways) to get that and its cousin on the left at
Northern Lights back in 1985. Remember Northern Lights?
Heck, remember record stores?

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