Billy Bragg

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Other Upcoming Shows

Anthony Rodia: Totally Relatable Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Apr 13th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$40 - $80

Kumail Nanjiani

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sun Apr 14th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$37 - $47

Matthew Sweet

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Mon Apr 15th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
Openers: Abe Partridge
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$27 - $37

Jim Gaffigan: Barely Alive Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Wed Apr 17th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu Apr 18th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Apr 19th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Apr 19th - 10:00 PM Doors Open - 9:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Apr 20th - 4:00PM Doors Open - 3:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Apr 20th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sun Apr 21st - 4:00PM Doors Open - 3:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sun Apr 21st - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$59.75 - 99.75

EMO ORCHESTRA feat. ESCAPE THE FATE

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Mon Apr 22nd - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$40 - $55

I’ve Had It: The Hot Shit Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Tue Apr 23rd - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$39 - $97

Anthony Jeselnik: Bones and All

Rescheduled from December 6-7

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Wed Apr 24th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Wed Apr 24th - 9:30PM Doors Open - 8:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$47 - $77

Alan Doyle: Welcome Home Tour w/ special guest Adam Baldwin

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu Apr 25th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$35 - $55

Drew Lynch

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Apr 26th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$28 - $36

Are You Garbage: Thru the Roof Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Apr 27th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Apr 27th - 9:45PM Doors Open - 8:45 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$30 - $37

Max Amini

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sun Apr 28th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sun Apr 28th - 9:30PM Doors Open - 8:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$42 - $112

Ghosts: Do You Believe?

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu May 2nd - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$26 - $55

Seth Meyers

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri May 3rd - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri May 3rd - 9:45PM Doors Open - 8:45 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat May 4th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat May 4th - 9:45PM Doors Open - 8:45 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$39 - $59

Buddy Guy: Damn Right Farewell

Rescheduled from 10/3

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Mon May 6th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
Openers: Tom Hambridge
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$75 - $125

Lyle Lovett and Lisa Loeb: In Conversation and Song

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Tue May 7th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$65 - $89

Todd Rundgren: ME/WE

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Wed May 8th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$55 - $219

Cat & Nat’s May Soiree

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu May 9th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$50 - $125

Justin Silva

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri May 10th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri May 10th - 10:00PM Doors Open - 9:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$30 - $75

Aries Spears

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat May 11th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$26 - $36

Monét X Change: Life Be Lifin’

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Tue May 14th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$38 - $48

Asi Wind: Incredibly Human

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu May 16th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$55 - $95

Madeleine Peyroux

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri May 17th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
Openers: Joy Clark
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$55 - $85

Robyn Schall

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat May 18th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$29 - $49

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sun May 19th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$40 - $60

DeRay Davis

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri May 24th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$40

Buckethead

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat May 25th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Partly seated
PRICE:
$47 - $55

Kathleen Hanna: Rebel Girl Book Tour

Moderated by Imani Perry; Each ticket includes a copy of "Rebel Girl" book

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Tue May 28th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$42

Jeff Arcuri

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Wed May 29th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu May 30th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu May 30th - 10:00 PM Doors Open - 9:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri May 31st - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri May 31st - 10:00 PM Doors Open - 9:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$29 - $49

Desi Banks: The Purpose Chaser Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Jun 1st - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$41 - $81

Mr. Joe Jackson Presents: Joe Jackson Solo & The Music of Max Champion

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Tue Jun 4th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$65 - $95

Jazz Is Dead

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu Jun 6th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$40 - $65

Joe Pera: The PERAS Tour

Recommended for a 16+ audience

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Jun 7th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Jun 8th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$37 - $47

Comedy Bang! Bang! – The Bang! Bang! Into Your Mouth Tour 2024

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu Jun 13th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$39.75 - $169.75

HaHa Davis

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Jun 14th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$35 - $45

Lil Duval

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Jun 15th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$40 - $50

GEORGE THOROGOOD & THE DESTROYERS “Bad All Over The World – 50 Years of Rock”

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Tue Jun 18th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$65 - $185

The Musical Box

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Wed Jun 19th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$50 - $75

The 2 Johnnies Podcast World Tour 2024

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Jun 21st - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$40 - $50

Michael Blackson

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Jun 22nd - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$51 - $91

Corinne Bailey Rae: Plum Red Lipstick Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sun Jun 23rd - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$40 - $69

Pod Save America Live: The Democracy or Else Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Jun 28th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$49 - $199

Lovett or Leave It: Live and on Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Jun 28th - 10:00 PM Doors Open - 9:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$49 - $229

UB40

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Wed Jul 3rd - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Partly seated
PRICE:
$57 - $242

The Moody Blues’ John Lodge

Rescheduled from 3/17. All tickets honored for the new date.

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Jul 26th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$50 - $175

OUR HOUSE: The Music of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Wed Aug 14th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$40 - $65

Games with Names Live

with Julian Edelman

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Aug 30th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Aug 30th - 10:00 PM Doors Open - 9:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$39 - $199

Old Gods of Appalachia

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Wed Sep 4th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$39 - $149

Sam Jay

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Sep 7th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$26 - $36

Randy Feltface: First Banana Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu Sep 12th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$35 - $45

Hans Kim

Rescheduled from 5/10. All tickets honored.

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Sep 13th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$30 - $40

Cowboy Bebop Live: Presented by the Bebop Bounty Big Band

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Sep 14th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$29 - $49

Laura Ramoso: Sit Up Straight Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Wed Sep 18th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu Sep 19th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$29 - $45

Charlie Berens: Good Old Fashioned Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Sep 20th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$29 - $39

Wanda Sykes: Please & Thank You Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Sep 21st - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sun Sep 22nd - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$49 - $99

Lewis Black: Goodbye Yeller Brick Road, The Final Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Sep 28th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$49 - $89

Heather McDonald: The Juicy Scoop Experience

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sun Oct 6th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$35 - $85

My Therapist Ghosted Me

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu Oct 10th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$37 - $47

Matt McCusker

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Oct 18th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Oct 18th - 10:00 PM Doors Open - 9:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$29 - $39

Sheng Wang

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Oct 19th - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Oct 19th - 9:45PM Doors Open - 8:45 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$32.50 - $42.50

Duncan Trussell

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Nov 1st - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$30 - $40

Noel Miller: New Supply Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Thu Nov 7th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$39 - $49

Whitney Cummings: Big Baby

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Nov 22nd - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Nov 22nd - 10:00 PM Doors Open - 9:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$39 - $59

Ryan Hamilton

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Nov 23rd - 7:00PM Doors Open - 6:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$25 - $35

Chris Botti

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Nov 29th - 8:00PM Doors Open - 7:00 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$59 - $89

Morgan Jay: Aphrodesia Tour

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Dec 13th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$36.50 - $56.50

Girls Gotta Eat: No Crumbs Tour

Tickets on sale now!

The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Dec 20th - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Fri Dec 20th - 10:00 PM Doors Open - 9:00 PM
The Wilbur Theatre Located at
246 Tremont St, Boston, MA.
Phone: 617-248-9700
Sat Dec 21st - 7:30PM Doors Open - 6:30 PM
SEAT TYPE: Fully seated
PRICE:
$44.50 - $77

Bio

It was thirty-seven years ago when the Saturday boy from Essex who would become the UK’s foremost political singer-songwriter released his first record, Life’s a Riot w

It was thirty-seven years ago when the Saturday boy from Essex who would become the UK’s foremost political singer-songwriter released his first record, Life’s a Riot with Spy Vs Spy. It contained seven songs, honed live, bashed out on a punk rock electric guitar, and wrapped in a utilitarian, single-colour sleeve. It charted at number 30 in the national charts. Billy Bragg had arrived. His first record company bio stated that he had ‘risen from obscurity to semi-obscurity.’

Politicised by a Tory government operating without love or justice (hard to imagine now), this previously adrift young man from Barking, with few career opportunities, bought himself out of the British Army in 1981 (‘the best £175 I ever spent’), determined to make a living out of song. After Life’s A Riot, he blazed a modest trail with similarly direct follow-up Brewing Up with … and ‘difficult third album’ Talking with The Taxman About Poetry, on which Billy succumbed to the possibility of accompaniment, with additional guitar, piano and flugelhorn.

Despite his above-parapet leftist activism – best summed up by 1985’s classic Between the Wars EP – his next album, Workers Playtime, positively jangled, with the highest ratio of love songs to protest songs yet. He played the full pop card with Don’t Try This at Home, even making a jaunty video for the Aids-related ‘Sexuality’, but went back to basics for William Bloke, reflecting a changing geopolitical world after the Berlin Wall. In 1998, Nora Guthrie, daughter of the late folk legend Woody, invited Billy to set a treasure trove of his unsung lyrics to music, which he did in collaboration with US alt-rock stars Wilco. The resulting Mermaid Avenue albums, Grammy-nominated, repositioned Billy in the United States, and opened up a new frontier for his rootsy, heartfelt music. His next solo album, recorded with his regular band the Blokes, brought it all back home: England, Half-English.

His stripped-back tenth solo album, Tooth and Nail, recorded in five days in acclaimed songwriter/producer Joe Henry’s basement studio in Pasadena, allowed Billy Bragg to confidently state: ‘I did it my way.’ It was his highest charting LP in the UK since Don’t Try This at Home in 1991.

In March 2016, for Shine a Light, his eleventh long-player (and third in explicit collaboration with another artist), Billy reunited with Joe Henry for a trip across America, and through Americana, guided by the lights of the mythic American railway. They boarded at Chicago’s Union Station and set out for LA, ‘looking to reconnect with the culture of American railroad travel and the music it inspired’; 2,728 miles later, the result was a series of field recordings that hymned the very act of getting from A to B. The Observer called it ‘a muscular chronicle’, and it reached No. 1 in the UK Americana album chart. The US tour, which began in Nashville in September, would cover even more ground, and steam across the UK and on into Australia in the New Year. He also put out six songs as ‘rapid-reaction’ downloads, written in response to fast-moving political events, and gathered them together under the name Bridges Not Walls, a maxim for a post-ideological climate.

The intervening three-and-a-half decades have been marked by numerous milestones and waystations for Billy, political and personal, including going topping the singles chart, having a street named after him, being mentioned in Bob Dylan’s memoir, being invited to deliver a seminar on accountability at the Bank of England and meeting the Queen.

Named Trailblazer of the Year at the Americana Music Association UK Awards in February 2016, Billy was subsequently awarded the Spirit of Americana/Free Speech in Music at the Americana Music Awards in September, co-presented by the First Amendment Center. In his middle years, he really did start to straddle continents.

After 13 studio albums, eight compilations, two box sets, and countless tours across countless international borders, the elder statesman of today, bearded and ‘ruggedly handsome’ (according to one Facebook fan), refuses to slip into the dotage of self-parody. Throughout his fifties, neither the fight nor the fight songs left Billy Bragg. There ain’t no stopping him now.

For every protest song (‘Between The Wars’, ‘There Is Power in A Union’, ‘Never Buy the Sun’), there is a declaration of love (‘Must I Paint You a Picture’, ‘Brickbat’ or, from Tooth and Nail, ‘Chasing Rainbows’). ‘Mixing pop and politics’ is a tall order, but where there’s a starting block, there’s a great leap forward.

Governments rise and fall, fashions come and go, pop stars are built up and knocked down by a fickle media, and Billy Bragg adapts to survive. His enemies remain essentially the same: craven politicians, inhumane corporations, plus assorted racists, fascists, bullies, reactionaries and people with floppy fringes.

Orator, entertainer, rabble-rouser, negotiator, pamphleteer, the fabled ‘big-nosed bard from Barking’, Billy Bragg is many things. A regular contributor to the national debate as TV pundit and newspaper columnist, he continues to sharpen his pen as a writer, and his first book, the considered, wide-ranging treatise on English identity The Progressive Patriot, opened up a whole new vista of possibility for a man who never stops engaging with all the trouble in the world. Whether it’s unionized workers, constitutional reform, bankers’ bonuses, illegal wars or the undemocratic commandeering of a portable toilet backstage at a festival, Billy Bragg will help fight your corner.

To quote his enduring live favourite ‘Levi Stubbs’ Tears’: the world falls apart, but some things stay in place. That optimism lives on in ‘Tomorrow’s Going to Be a Better Day’ from Tooth and Nail:

“Take it from someone who knows the glass is half-full, tomorrow’s going to be a better day, no matter what the siren voices say … we’re going to make it that way.”

In 2017, he followed up The Progressive Patriot with his second book, the deeply-researched, heartfelt history of skiffle, Roots, Radicals & Rockers: How Skiffle Changed the World (Faber). It was shortlisted for the Penderyn Music Book Prize (“the Mercury Prize of Books”). In 2018, he was honoured with the PRS Outstanding Contribution to British Music award at the Ivor Novello awards, sealing his status as a statesman as well as a great musician and chronicler of his time.
Touring Bragg hotspots in New Zealand and Australia in 2019, Billy literally road-tested a new live format for 2019: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. The idea was to play three consecutive shows over three nights at each given venue on the itinerary – the first night a current, mixed Bragg set; the second from his first three albums; the third from his second three albums. “It’s a way of keeping things interesting,” he explained. The tour covered the US, UK and Ireland and Europe, regularly selling out, but in a good way.
Lockdown couldn’t keep him down. Instead, he looked inwardly as well as outwardly, and joined the two together, strong. A new set of songs – The Million Things That Never Happened – emerged, blinking in the light, and nailing what so many of us felt, and still do feel.

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