it was love at first sight. i had gone to see the smiths play, and the opening act was this guy who came out in a white t-shirt and jeans, and played solo with an electric guitar. i'd heard of billy bragg from reading the english music press, nme and the now-defunct melody maker, but hadn't heard anything by him. so he comes out, sings a bunch of songs in a style that marries folk and punk traditions and delivers hysterical and insightful between-song patter (commenting on his physique, he said he was going for bruce springsteen muscles but had only acheived bryan adams level).
the very next day i went to my favorite record store and bought everything i could by billy bragg. since that show i've seen him, i don't know, at least 10 times, solo and with various bands. i've never been disappointed by a billy bragg show, and last night's late show at gamh was no different.
he opened up with "sexuality", going right into "milkman of human kindness". between songs he complained about the blue angels interrupting his sleep, talked about goat herding and how billy goats attract nanny goats by peeing on their own faces, because that's how goats get their pheremones out there. the set was a mix of old favorites like "greetings to the new brunette", and some very new songs. he plugged his new book, plugged his hardly-strictly set and promied to be back on tour soon. closing out the night was "waiting for the great leap forwards", as always with new lyics, some seemingly improvised based on the night's between-song patter, and "a new england", with the audience singing the chorus.
it's nice to know that (as with robyn hitchcock) even after many, many years, the love is strong and enduring. who says i've got commitement issues?