Billy Bragg and Joe Henry | Union Chapel | 8 October 2016
“I don’t have any songs like that,” deadpans Joe Henry, returning to the stage as Billy Bragg ends a particularly emotional rendition of ‘There Is Power In A Union’. The rousing anthem is the finale of an intense 25-minute solo set that finds Bragg weighing in on Brexit, Trump, and the Calais Jungle between in-your-face songs like ‘Accident Waiting To Happen’, Occupy London anthem ‘Why We Build The Wall’, and Woody Guthrie’s ‘All You Fascists Are Bound To Lose’.
Earlier, during his own solo slot, Henry illustrates his disillusionment with the United States – “I’m an American abroad on election day, looking for asylum,” he chuckles – with a more restrained approach. A stripped-down ‘Trampoline’, cerebral ‘After The War’, weighty ‘Odetta’, storytelling masterclass ‘Our Song’ (“This was my country/ This frightful and this angry land”), and Allen Toussaint’s ‘Freedom For The Stallion’ may lack Bragg’s swagger, but are just as politically charged.