First of all, I just want to say that it was an awesome and complementary selection of Ron Hawkins to open for Billy Bragg. Both are amazing singers, songwriters, and guitarists and both put on a great show.
The show opened with Ron Hawkins. Because of Ron Hawkin’s long experience in putting his his heart and soul into both his songwriting and his performance, it was no surprise that the opening set of the night was really good. He played mostly from the songs of his recently released solo CD “Ten Kinds of Lonely”, but also included a few old favorites from the Rusty Nails and The Lowest of the Low. His set lasted about 60 minutes, was soulful and energetic, and definitely revved up the packed house at the Phoenix. I can only hope that the additional exposure of touring with Billy Bragg will result in increased demand, and that we will see new headline shows for Ron Hawkins in the near future.
Billy Bragg followed Ron Hawkins and played for a solid 2 hours! Billy Bragg performed songs picked from many of his albums, and linked them together with a mix of Story-telling (Isabella Guthry?), humour (Margaret Thatcher the cat?) and political message (There is power in a Union). His energy was evident immediately as he started forcefully with “Accident Waiting to Happen” and never flagged, even finishing off the set with an encore comprised of his entire first album! Occasionally sipping on a cup o’ tea, Billy Bragg had a comfortable raport with the audience, and was often accompanied by the crowd on old favourates like “The Milkman of Human Kindness” and “A New England”. A consummate performer and entertainer, Billy Bragg should not be missed – his tour continues to Hamilton and then to western Canada through to the end of November.
Woot! Someone got a video of Ron Hawkins: