No video of this show, so that’s a really old performance of one of the songs that Tom played.
Why This Gig?
Because, as I wrote a couple of weeks ago, you should never miss an opportunity to see Tom Robinson play.
And this was a slightly different kind of show. Tom was talking about the history of protest songs and singing some of his favourites. The event was put on by an organisation called the English Speaking Union. They sound a bit dodgy, but if Tom Robinson is supporting them then they must be kosher.
Not a support, as such, but a couple of times during the evening Tom gave up some time to a young poet called Dean Atta.
This was a very strange show. At times it felt like we were sitting in someone’s drawing room.
Tom is, as you would expect, an expert on protest songs (despite his protests otherwise) and he delivered an interesting selection of songs. Alongside obvious choices like “God on Our Side” and “Strange Fruit” there were many more obscure choices like Nina Simone’s “Mississipi Goddamn” and Show of Hands’ ‘Country Life’. I particularly enjoyed hearing Steve Earle’s “John Walker’s Blues” which I hadn’t heard before.
Tom largely ignored his own back catalogue. He started with “Fifty” (which he had renamed to “Sixty”) and ended with the inevitable “(Sing if You’re) Glad to be Gay)” which, as always, got the entire audience singing along.
He introduced each song by explaining the context in which it was written or telling us why he had chosen it. And at the end of the evening there was time for a few questions from the audience which led to some interesting discussions.
Some of the cover versions were more successful than others. But, all in all, it was a really enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.