Billy Bragg
Rhoda Dakar
Man With Echo
Leftfield Stage
June 2016

Well it was never going to business as usual.

On the day of the historical leave vote and against a background of confusion and economic and political uncertainty and a sea of shocked and downhearted faces Billy Bragg stepped up to the mic and delivered one of the most powerful and emotive sets of his long career.

Suddenly his decades old songs took on new meanings and the packed audience sang along attempting to to find condolence in these powerful words. Between the songs Billy spoke of trying to make sense of the situation despite having that same hollow feeling as in those post election times in the eighties when Thatcher kept winning. He kept coming back to the British youth who voted to stay and were let down by the older generation. With many of them saying that the feel that their future’s are dashed maybe it’s finally time for their voices to be heard.

There is something uniquely powerful about Billy Bragg virtually solo (lap steel is added as a flourish here and there) and with just his voice and guitar the songs were perfectly, the lyrics stand out and the delivery is full of the emotion of confusion and idealism and there is that guitar sounding as taut wire sparse as ever and a musical and emotional a link back the Clash all those years ago when another generation was thrilled by a musical clarion call.

Just before Billy, Rhoda Dakar delivered a great set of lilting ska with a twist – the most infectious of musics never fails to get a muddy field dancing and is somehow perfect for every occasion. With her crack band the former Bodysnatcher and Specials singer was able to explore all the possibilities of the music in a set that managed to combine the infectious nature of the form to a deeper melancholy and a grooving melodic power that made it so much more than just a run through of the ever infectious ska beat.

Man And The Echo are a great four piece band from Warrington who managed to arrive on the stage spotless which is some feat considering the conditions. The band deceived a thrilling set of songs that were as sharp as the creases on their trousers and their modish hair. These are political and social songs that explore the territory between the first album Dexys and Orange Juice – that short, sharp shock of the early eighties brave new pop that took the past and remoulded it for a brave new future despite the political pessimism of the times – some things never change!

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


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