LIVE REVIEW: PAUL HEATON, BILLY BRAGG @ THE GLOBE, STOCKTON (03.12.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Billy Bragg is in typically combative mood. Not long after the singer had dashed through Shirley and Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key to help warm up a chilly Stockton Globe, a pink University and College Union hat thrown on stage sparked a rant about nurses, strikes and trans issues. Typically for the singer it was eloquently and passionately delivered, before a rousing There Is Power In A Union and Sexuality, the latter reworked to have a not-so-sly dig at Morrissey.

Originally billed as Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott headline show, Jacqui was missing tonight on medical grounds with Paul even admitting from the stage he was missing her and, perhaps even a tear, before Old Red Eyes Is Back which followed a still sublime version of Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talking. Even the stage set-up (monitors stage left) was an obvious reminder someone was missing, but decades of finely-honed stage craft meant the singer worked the space like a pro; hop, skipping and occasionally jumping through classics like Song For Whoever, Five Get Over Excited with the helping hands of his more than capable backing band each taking a shift on Jacqui’s parts. Rocky versions of I Need A Little Time and Me And The Farmer really lifted the second half of the set, including a crowd pleasing Rotterdam which must have been a tough ask on his own, and by the end of a closing Caravan of Love singalong the tears were the other side of the stage barrier in the crowd.

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