Full of charm and endless wit, the legendary Billy Bragg graced Los Angeles with an amazing performance at the El Rey Theatre. Opening up for Billy was Australian folk rock and blues singer, Kim Churchill — he absolutely shredded. You can scroll down to view photos of his performance.
From fight songs to love songs, Billy seamlessly kept all eyes and ears on him as meaningful words spewed from his mouth. There were serious moments and there were hilarious moments as Billy is quite the comedian and a gem at keeping the crowd amused with his witty stage-banter.
Sporting a rather handsome, grey and red speckled beard, Billy had mentioned that beards for men over 40 were like an natural face-lift covering the double chins and flaws. Beard or not, Billy looked great and was full of ambitious energy as his iconic protest songs and beautifully written folk jams infected the crowd with ultimate adoration.
Playing a selection of toned down songs from his latest studio album, Tooth & Nail, released in the U.S this past March 19 — Billy performed “No One Knows Nothing Anymore.” But before playing the song, he led us through a hilarious banter about hipsters, their beards, and “how little they know of shit that’s really going on in this world.”
Billy had the crowd in an unexpected sing-along when he sung “The Milkman of Human Kindness.” With the same crowd interaction, fists pumped through the air as young and older fans spilled their beer cups to “All You Fascists” with original lyrics by Woodie Guthrie. If you’re familiar with Billy, the Guthrie doesn’t end there. He got our feet stomping across the floor when he played “My Flying Saucer” in the style of ‘Supersonic Boogie’, an innovative tempo that Woodie Guthrie wanted to bring to life as he was writing about flying saucers in 1950. Listening to Billy tell us the story about Woodie’s notes of never before heard music was amazing; and to hear him bring the song to life was even more exciting. The Woody Guthrie you have in mind, is not the real Woody Guthrie. This man was way ahead of his time.
On top of all the fight songs, Guthrie, love songs, and comedic stage conversations — Billy also expressed some great commentary on universal healthcare, equality for gay marriage, the bastards known as the “BNP” (British National Party), rock against racism, and much more awareness topics. Fight the fight, “we can trust our working class neighbors to see a fascist when they see one … there will be a reckoning.”
Kind to his fans, Billy stayed a couple hours after the show — shooting-the-shit, signing posters, and taking photos. It was a very special treat for fans of Billy Bragg.
Words: Sandra Burciaga
Photography: Monique Hernandez
Click through the photo gallery below for more photos of Billy Bragg and Kim Churchill at the El Rey!