Imagined Village @ Royal Festival Hall / Edwyn Collins @ Arts Theatre, 27th and 25th Nov.
Billy Bragg's recent book, "The Progressive Patriot", discusses the idea of English identity in the multicultural 21st century and the Imagined Village are an attempt to draw on several elements to arrive at a shared expression of this identity, notably the "traditional" folk background of Martin and Eliza Carthy, Bragg's own Clash sensibilities and the non-western origins of various "world music" musicians (Sheila Chandra, Johnny Kalsi of the Dhol Foundation, Sheema Mukherjee of Transglobal Underground). In recent press interviews and in the pre-concert talk tonight, Bragg and group leader Simon Emmerson (late of Afro-Celt Sound System) are at pains to deny that they are out to trample over long-established folk traditions with a more electro/beat-based style. The presence of the Carthys--two members of "folk royalty"--as well as young members of the Copper Family offer some reassurance in this regard. Plenty of ideas to take on board, but the music was good too. Highlight for me was Benjamin Zephaniah's video'd take on "Tam Lin".
A couple of nights earlier, Edwyn Collins gave us an impressive run through a mix of Orange Juice classics and numbers from his solo career, impressive particularly since this was about much more than hearing the music. What an achievement for him to have got this far only a couple of years after two brain haemorrhages left him almost completely paralysed. It's difficult for those of us watching and listening to appreciate what it means to him to be back performing again. This Times Review of the gig says it quite eloquently.
Review of I.V.s in Liverpool earlier in the tour
Guardian review of "The Progressive Patriot"
Wikipedia on "Tam Lin"
Back in the day: Simon Emmerson when he had hair, and a different surname
allmusic.com waxes lyrical about the OJ's
Edwyn is back / "I was dead -- and I was resurrected"
"The Orange Juice and Postcard Records Website". Yay.
Back in the day: YouTube video vaults