Masterfully braiding together songs from his most recent album (2021’s The Million Things That Never Happened), personal and political gems written (with a few exceptions) during the Thatcher era and pointed commentary that frequently exceeded the length of the tunes themselves, Billy Bragg delivered decisive proof of the role of empathy in music and the value of reaching to the converted. He created a space where exhausted and burned-out social-justice warriors—and fed-up folks seeking some spark to (re)discover their calling to resist theocracy, put paid to male violence and work toward the common good—could recharge, connect and feel more fired up about the future.
Highlights: “The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here No More,” “Sexuality,” “Freedom Doesn’t Come For Free,” “Greetings To The New Brunette,” “The Million Things That Never Happened,” sing-alongs of “The Milkman )f Human Kindness” and “The Great Leap Forwards” and the entire narrative thread that connected the dots from then to now to the world we want. (If the planet doesn’t kick us all off first.)
Alice Phoebe Lou opened with a warm, welcoming and witty collection of songs about isolation, companionship, heartbreak and pleasure.
—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich