Billy Bragg brings his ‘One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back’ tour to Manchester, where for three consecutive nights he performs three unique shows.
The first night’s performance will feature Bragg’s current set, which ranges across his 35 year career. The second will see Bragg perform songs from his first three albums; his punk rock debut ‘Life’s a Riot with Spy Vs Spy’ (1983), its similarly raw follow-up ‘Brewing Up with Billy Bragg’ (1984) and ‘Talking with the Taxman about Poetry’ (1986). The third performance will see Bragg perform songs from his second three albums; the positively jangled ‘Workers Playtime’ (1988), the pop classic ‘Don’t Try This at Home’ (1991) and the back-to-basics ‘William Bloke’ (1996).
Billy Bragg has been a fearless recording artist, tireless live performer and peerless political campaigner for over 35 years. Politicised by a Tory government operating without love or justice, this previously adrift young man from Barking, whose failure at national exams had reduced his career opportunities to two, eventually bought himself out of the British Army in 198 (“The best £175 I ever spent”), determined to make a living out of song.
Governments rise and fall, fashions come and go, pop stars are built up and knocked down by a fickle media, and Billy Bragg adapts to survive: the one-time Luddite and failed handyman has embraced new media and engages with fans directly via Facebook and Twitter, uploading songs when a headline strikes. His enemies remain essentially the same: craven politicians, inhumane corporations, plus assorted racists, fascists, bullies, reactionaries and people with floppy fringes.
Don’t miss the orator, entertainer, rabble-rouser, negotiator, pamphleteer, the fabled ‘Bard of Barking’, Billy Bragg, across three extraordinary evenings.
Among the former Saturday boy’s albums are his punk-charged debut Life’s a Riot With Spy Vs Spy, the more love-infused Workers Playtime, pop classic Don’t Try This At Home, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee-timed treatise on national identity England, Half-English, and his stripped-down tenth, Tooth & Nail, his most successful since the early 90s. The intervening three decades have been marked by a number one hit single, having a street named after him, being the subject of a South Bank Show, appearing onstage at Wembley Stadium, curating Left Field at Glastonbury, sharing spotted dick with a Cabinet minister in the House of Commons cafeteria, being mentioned in Bob Dylan’s memoir and meeting the Queen. At their best, Billy’s songs present ‘the perfect Venn diagram between the political and the personal’ (the Guardian). Bragg has recently added best-selling author/musicologist to his CV with the success of his acclaimed 2017 book ‘Roots, Radicals & Rockers – How Skiffle Changed The World’.
“a punkish musical sensibility…an invigorating polemic…” – Uncut
“Unquestionably our generation’s finest protest singer…Bragg’s needed more than ever…vital and indispensable.” – Classic Pop
“…back to his most politically direct…it’s great to hear the fire in his belly once more.” – MOJO
“….an always inspiring singer-songwriter finding inspiration in the actions of others.” – Record Collector
“Political turmoil has regalvanised Billy Bragg…” – The Guardian/Observer
“A true legend of a singer-songwriter… Powerful as always….We need him now more than ever…” – Louder Than War
“This…state-of-the-world address does what one-time Bard of Barking has long excelled at, condensing the social and political tenor of the times into pithy and combative tunes.” – Daily Mirror
“A British institution eschews nostalgia for vital, politicised songwriting… The real merits in this latest work lie in Bragg’s originality and ability to break down such high-concept politics into layman’s terms with an endearing sincerity.” – Clashmusic.com