Billy Bragg and the Blokes, Norwich

In these days of Pop Idol, it was nice to see back in Norwich a genuine star in the shape of 80s icon Billy Bragg.

In these days of Pop Idol, it was nice to see back in Norwich a genuine star in the shape of 80s icon Billy Bragg.

True, his voice, is not the smoothest to ever hit the charts — “the political fellow with the mellow bellow” was his favourite description of himself.

But although his rougher edges may have been smoothed out over the years, Bragg still packs a punch. And is not afraid to state his point of view. Who else would come out with a song called “No Power Without Responsibility”?

Bragg is the one-part polemicist, one-part comedienne and one-part singer.


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But it is that final third that raises him above the rest. Whether it be new songs such as his single St Mondays or other material from his new album English, Half English, or crowd pleasers such as his past hits New England or Sexuality, Bragg delivers.

His 60s band add real soul to his performance and the 80s hang heavily over a show which is never less than entertaining.

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True, not everyone comes to gigs to listen to please to support Nicaraguan-made ethical T-shirts or support a living wage in Tower Hamlets, but the sincerity is all part of the package.

An excellent night out with a first-rate band, although for someone who has not been to the Waterfront for some time I have to say that neither the acoustics or the sight-lines have improved with age.

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