by Daniel Bayer
November 1, 2008 – Duke University, Durham, NC
“I love this folk music shit, don’t you?” asked British left-wing singer/songwriter Billy Bragg before launching into another one of his Curtis Mayfield-meets-Joe Strummer guitar riffs. Unaccompanied by anything other than humorous monologues about U.S. foreign policy, the Clash, American football and the election, Bragg performed songs from throughout his 30-year career, focusing mostly on his “political” numbers, though he did toss in a few of his trademark “unrequited love” ballads for the romantics in the audience. Several Woody Guthrie covers/collaborations were in the set, including “Ingrid Bergman” and the Great Depression lament “I Ain’t Got no Home in this World Anymore,” as well as Laura Nyro’s “Save the Country.” Bragg finished up with a suitably updated rendition of his late-eighties college radio “hit” “Waiting for the Great Leap Forward” and included “Levi Stubbs’ Tears” in his encore, in honor of the late Four Tops’ singer. I had a great time at the show, though I wouldn’t recommend it for Sarah Palin acolytes.
Billy Bragg – Waiting for the Great Leap Forward