An extremely broad age ranged crowd gathered at Keele’s Student Union on 20 November to bear witness to possibly the most politically driven gig this year.
Sound of Rum are an exciting up and coming band brimming with confidence and zest. Lead singer/rapper Kate Tempest was rather reminiscent of a modern age Janis Joplin – consumed with opinion married with a comedic approach to presentation, gave the overall performance a warm and personal feel.
On speaking to Tempest, her induction to the tour was when she met Bragg at one his poetry nights. He invited Kate and the band to do a set on the Left Field stage at Glastonbury, and the rest’s history.
The King Blues presented an absolutely captivating performance.
Itch opened their slot with an acapella version of ‘Five Bottles of Shampoo’, in which he marched around the stage, making his point extremely prevalent in an ode to the feminist, championing anti-sexism.
Deplorably I’ve not listened to that much of TKB’s material, but after tonight’s performance I think I need to reassess some basic life principals – amazing, completely unexpected. They held the crowd’s attention very well, although the room didn’t really fill up until the man of the hour took to the stage…
Billy Bragg was absurdly professional – a very well delivered set by a passionate activist. One man, one guitar, one audience, and the lack of a backing band didn’t make a difference at all. Towards the close he was joined by TKB’s and Tempest for a chorus of a regenerated protest song ‘Which Side Are You On?’
When going to see Bragg perform live a political speech is always to be expected, however I didn’t expect one that was so well received. With such weight and commitment behind his preaches, it wasn’t surprising to find numerous audience members shouted out in agreement as if it we were in an American gospel church –”If you can’t say it to my face, don’t fucking tweet it to me on the Internet.”
Humour clearly isn’t a foreign trait to Bragg, the audience ate of his hand throughout – when he wasn’t speaking or playing you could literally hear a pin drop.
To Bragg, the message is more than just the music – it’s the volume of people that makes the difference: talking about his experience at The Clash’s performance at the Rock Against Racism gig, 1978 – “It was not The Clash that showed me the courage of my convictions. It was being in that audience, knowing I wasn’t the only person that shared the same view.”
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