Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe

Bard of Barking, SF style

In something of a busman's holiday, we went to see Billy Bragg in San Francisco tonight. He was playing two shows at the Great American Music Hall. We don't have this kind of venue back home. Take somewhere about half the size of the Shepherd's Bush Empire, with the gilt and stylings of the Theatre Royal in Bath, rip out all the seats and put in tables and chairs restaurant style, with dinner served at the early show and snacks and drinks at the late show, by waitresses who bring your beer to the table.

After a full tour and one show tonight already Billy Bragg was chatty, relaxed and a bit punch drunk, joking about the alter ego he discovered when he lost all but the hoarse cockney registers of his voice (Johny Clash, artist of albums like Rock the Jazzbar and The Man in Black (and Red)), confessing to being a YouTube fan (the hamster and the biscuit, the Canadian cat and the ceiling fan) and complaining about being woken by the jetplane flyover celebrating Fleet Week. It's the chatty second half of a Bragg show without the concentrated music of the first half although he played plenty of good tracks, from Sexuality, Shirley and Milkman of Human Kindness to the slower version of Like Soldiers do and the singalong finale of New England. The political numbers included There is a Power in the Union, Eisler's on the come and go, Bourgeouis (BushWar) Blues and the always topical patter version of Great Leap Forward.

Driving back on a deserted 280 pungent with eucalyptus, fog creeps over the hillsides and pools in the fields as far south as Redwood City.
Tags: music, personal, travel

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