Monday, September 13, 2010

Billy Bragg
The Ark
Ann Arbor, MI

It's a strange world where a Canadian has to cross into the US to get his yearly dose of righteous leftist indignation. For reasons beyond comprehension Billy has opted to bypass the True North Strong and Free this year and focus on the Land of the Afraid, er, make that Brave.

Gives us a chance to hook up with a like-minded Stateside friend and introduce her to Britain's Phil Ochs...that is, without the self-destructive tendencies and bitter cynicism that led Phil to a downward spiral. (As a side-note could you imagine if Phil was alive during the 8 years of the Bush ascendancy? He would have been apoplectic.)

Ann Arbor is a lovely town in the fall. Easy to stroll, lots for the eyes to feast on. The kids at the University are just back in residence and the streets are filled with people getting that last bit of summer. Michigan is coming from behind to defeat Notre Dame 28-24 as we stand in line. The Ark is a mecca. Unfortunately it rained all day so we couldn't experience much of that.

Did manage to run into Billy on the street just before the show. Stopped him to give thanks for introducing me to CR Avery back in 2008 and for playing a superb rendition of John Cooper Clarke's Evidently Chicken Town to the tune of Bob Dylan's Desolation Row back at The Phoenix in 2009. Mentioned my plans to make it over to the UK in the spring of next year if I can find JCC and John Otway playing dates the same week. He mentioned he'd gigged with both of them, simultaneously even. Now if Billy were playing when I was there he'd be a natural to see, but him I can see anywhere, the others, not so much. He pulled out his iPhone to show me a pic of his young son with JCC.

At this point I felt like the character in Jack White's Take Take Take...that was all that I wanted. Except I wanted more. I asked Billy if I could impose on him for an autograph, on my copy of his debut, indy EP, Life's A Riot w/ Spy Vs. Spy, the import, which I've been carrying around for a good many years. This guy is nothing if not magnanimous and he followed me into the restaurant where my wife and friend were wrapping up dinner. "Look who I found!" I announce.

Billy's still lightly touring Mr Love and Justice, but also playing a few new songs from his recent stage production. He's had a busy year with the election and all, slaying the BNP in his home riding.

Lots of talking tonight, the show ran over 2 hours. Billy got caught up in a rambling story about signing 3 posters "To The Lion's Den", then later discovering, while driving down I94, that was an porn movie store.

But he played some songs too;

Billy Bragg
The Ark
Ann Arbor, MI

Disc 1

Track 01 The World Turned Upside Down
Track 02 To Have Or To Have Not
Track 02a talk
Track 03 The Price I Pay
Track 04 Greeting to the New Brunette
Track 05 talk
Track 06 Tomorrow's Gonna Be A Better Day
Track 07 talk
Track 08 I Ain't Got No Home
Track 09 Sexuality
Track 10 talk
Track 11 Everywhere
Track 12 The Unwelcome Guest
Track 13 talk
Track 14 The Fourteenth of February
Track 15 talk
Track 16 There Will Be A Reckoning
Track 17 talk
Track 18 Tank Park Salute
Track 19 talk

Disc 2

Track 01 NPWA
Track 02 Levi Stubbs Tears
Track 03 talk
Track 04 I Keep Faith
Track 05 Power In A Union
Track 06 encore break/talk
Track 07 Ode To Joy
Track 08 talk
Track 09 The Milkman of Human Kindness
Track 10 A New England

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