Modern day troubadour, the bard of Barking, Billy Bragg has announced his return to New Zealand this October for four dates, performing a special two part show.
The show is called “Ain’t Nobody That Can Sing Like Me” – the first will celebrate the legacy of Woody Guthrie while the second half explores Billy’s own extensive repertoire, highlighting the songs that have made him famous over his near three decade, 14-album career.
This year marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie – whose songs, ballads, prose and poetry championed the plight of the underdog. Billy Bragg has a special musical affinity with Woody – when Woody’s daughter Nora unearthed a treasure trove of her father’s unrecorded lyrics after his death, Billy Bragg and Wilco worked together setting these to music, creating the critically acclaimed Mermaid Avenue albums. The Complete Sessions has just been released, including Mermaid Avenue Vol. III. Billy will play songs from Woody’s extensive repertoire as well as the Mermaid Avenue albums, giving audiences new insights into one of the most influential figures in popular music, a man who inspired artists from Bob Dylan to Joe Strummer, as well as Billy himself.
Billy Bragg, ‘the Bard from Barking’, famously started out as a tank driver in the British Army. Things didn’t work out – “When you’ve driven one tank, you’ve driven them all” – and in early 1982 he found himself back on the streets of Barking, writing songs. Drawing inspiration from the DIY ethos of punk rock, he decided to take on the world single-handedly, armed with only an electric guitar. Billy’s songs were more punk than folk and he’s often described his earliest incarnation as ‘a one-man Clash’. His first album, ‘Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy’ came out in 1983.
Billy was politicised by Rock Against Racism in the late 1970s. He marshalled his songs in opposition to Margaret Thatcher, supporting the miners when they went on strike in 1984 and subsequently founding Red Wedge, a collective of left wing musicians who campaigned for the defeat of Thatcher at the 1987 election. Throughout his career, Billy Bragg has remained contemporary, providing his insightful, clear-eyed yet hopeful commentary on our times through social, political and technological change.
Although often defined by his political songs, Billy is also a writer of great love songs. He said “I write about the things make me angry: sometimes it’s the government, sometimes it’s the girl.” His songs describe the emotional peaks and troughs of love, navigating the difficult terrain of modern relationships.
AUCKLAND • Friday 12 October • Town Hall (All Seated)
TIX: www.buytickets.co.nz / 0800 BUY TICKETS / 09 357 3355
WELLINGTON • Saturday 13 October • The Opera House (All Seated)
TIX: www.ticketek.co.nz / 04 384 3840 or 0800 TICKETEK / 0800 842 538
DUNEDIN • OTAGO FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS • Sunday 14 October • Otago Girls Auditorium (All Seated) TIX: TicketDirect: www.ticketdirect.co.nz / 0800 224 224
CHRISTCHURCH • Quake Benefit tbc • info coming soon