Reviewed by Dan Oko, Fri., March 21, 2008
Billy BraggCedar Street Courtyard, Thursday, March 13
As Billy Bragg noted, his solo outdoor performance was the perfect opportunity to revisit his long-lost youth spent busking at Kensington in the London Tube. Frisky and funny, chatty and typically topical, Bragg remains an unreconstructed, socialist-minded UK punk unembarrassed to carry his fascist-killing guitars – electric and acoustic – or to encourage an audience to be the change they want to see in the world. He set things up with the political ballad "World Turned Upside Down," followed by "Accident Waiting to Happen," and then played his new single "Farm Boy," a soldier's lament from his forthcoming disc, Mr. Love & Justice. In a voice worn but still warm after what Bragg modestly called a "long day" (he had soloed at the Body of War film benefit and joined UK chanteuse Kate Nash at a day party), Bragg sung his heart out on Woody Guthrie's "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key." He teased the audience with a snatch of the Carpenters' "Superstar," then lit into a snarling take on Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right." The faithful sang along on "New England," and Bragg encored with the new "I Keep Faith," a point nobody could argue.