Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg was on the 9:30 club stage for 125 minutes on Wednesday night. Approximately 90 minutes was spent performing music with his sextet.
The other 35 consisted of Bragg's between-songs stand-up routine, which covered politics, Americana, the U.S. women's soccer team and the need to name natural disasters "after one's uncle."
Bragg pledged to name his clogged sinuses "Head Cold Floyd," but his stuffed nose didn't prevent him from performing one of his typically charming shows.
There was a definite Bob Dylan and the Band feel to Bragg's new group, Billy Bragg and the Blokes. The Blokes turned Bragg's folk tunes into rock-and-roll with an organic flow, especially in the organ and piano playing of former Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan.
Old favorites like "Accident Waiting to Happen," "The Milkman of Human Kindness," "Shirley (Greetings to the New Brunette)" and "A New England" were recast with new tempos or arrangements, but they were not so different that the sellout crowd couldn't sing along.
Bragg also did several tunes off the Woody Guthrie-inspired album he did with Wilco, "Mermaid Avenue," including a punchy version of "Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key."
Late in the show, responding to shouts "to just play" after another chatty monologue, Bragg declared "This is folk music. I've got to talk."