Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rocking with Hard Fi and Billy Bragg

Linda and I went to see the very excellent Hard Fi at Brixton Academy yesterday - the fourth of a five night stand by the band. They played most of the album plus a couple of new songs and a Big Audio Dynamite cover. They were loud and energetic, but still managed to hold the tunes - mostly.

Their stage presence was augmented by TV screens making good use of the CCTV image they've made their own and beaming an anti-war message to po-going fans.

The evening was made even better by the presence of Billy Bragg. The old red wedge rocker's back catalogue is appearing all digitally remastered, so he served up a 30 minute run-through his greatest hits. The songs stand up really well. He's not lost any of his old passion. He's even updated one or two songs - especially the wonderful Looking for the Great Leap Forward. It was stirring stuff.

He returned during Hard Fi's encore to do a spirited version of the Who's Won't Get Fooled Again - which I assume was aimed equally at the Blair Government and the British National Party.

One of the fascinating things about the evening was the emphasis on the old rock against racism themes (it was at a RAR gig that I first heard Bragg). The rise of the BNP is galvanising a section of the indie rock community to put its talents at the disposal of a campaign against racism. More power to 'em. Bragg said that it worked in the late 70s/early 80s and it can work again as cultures come together around shared love of music and common hatred of racism. We'll see...

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