Thursday, June 12, 2008
Billy Bragg at SF Fillmore
Billy Bragg may have been playing to a near sold-out crowd of the country's more politically-engaged, Obama-fevered, and as liberal as you're likely to find citizens at last night's San Francisco Fillmore performance, but that didn't stop him from spending a good percentage of his show imploring the audience to vote, and speaking and singing out for political justice & sexual freedom. The Brit was in good company of course. "You either love or hate me," he said in one of many self-deprecating asides, but those who came, loved him. Playing solo, with just two guitars, a couple of amps and a cup of tea, he ran through material from his latest CD "Mr. Love & Justice" (including "Farm Boy" about a guy who joined the fight in Iraq for a paycheck), and his extensive catalog, including the Wilco collaboration on Woody Guthrie's catalog.
"I Keep Faith," "Sexuality" and Guthrie's "Ingrid Bergman" — which featured a long intro about both the sex drive of 'true artists' and his getting access to Guthrie's archives that actually came well before he played the songs — were highlights.
"When I talk about faith, I'm not talking about religion or spirituality," Bragg opined after singing 'I Keep Faith', "I'm talking about faith in humanity." He credited his attendance at a pivotal Clash "Rock Against Racism" concert in the UK 30 years ago for setting him on his politically-charged musical path. Some of us may remember his shows similarly.