GIG REVIEW: Billy Bragg at the Leadmill in Sheffield

By Phil Turner | 15/11/2017

GIG REVIEW: Billy Bragg at the Leadmill in Sheffield

BILLY Bragg keeps the faith with his hopes for a better world after 35 years performing his unmistakeable blend of political punk folk.

Bragg, now nearly 60, knows music can’t change the world but it can inspire people and you know he really means it when he sings I Keep Faith to his faithful fans.

His Bridges Not Walls tour and new mini-album of the same name are about bringing people together, be they black, white, gay or straight. 

One of his new songs was inspired by a photograph of a woman called Saffiyah Khan as she stared down a ranting English Defence League member with only a serene smile.

Saffiyah Smiles is the result of seeing her picture, which quickly went viral after being taken during a face-off as she attended a counter demonstration against the EDL in Birmingham earlier this year. 

Bragg says it shows you “sometimes can confront hatred by calmly making plain how ridiculous its propagators are”.

He wrote the song after the shocking scenes of white supremacists marching through Charlottesville in the summer. 

One of the new tracks is the powerful Why We Build The Wall written by Anais Mitchell.

Opening with Sexuality, Bragg talks and plays through favourites such as Milkman of Human Kindness — which sparks a sing-along — The Man In The Iron Mask and Levi Stubbs’ Tears. 

His anger is undimmed as he lets Theresa May, Trump and many more know that they are all An Accident Waiting To Happen. 

His main targets are Brexit, division and cynicism. 

Mostly, he’s on stage on his own, occasionally accompanied by CJ Hillman, a regular collaborator, with a nice line in country style steel guitar.

Bragg says he has a duty to make sure people go away not feeling alone.

A rousing version of There Is Power In A Union makes sure they won’'t do. 

Three encores bring the night to a close.