Tom Robinson live in Cambridge November 10: Punk rock 45 years apart and brilliant

It’s quite a contrast seeing Tom Robinson live 45 years apart. Firstly with his band at their punk height and then now, up close and personal, in a one man acoustic set. He was brilliant in both settings and hasn’t lost his ability to write great protest songs.
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I first saw the Tom Robinson Band (TRB) live in March 1978 at a local civic festival hall. The band had a soaring reputation as a top punk band at the time. They were up there alongside the likes of The Clash and The Damned in the punk rock takeover. 

TRB led by Robinson had attitude, political anger and resentment, along with some damned good music. They even had a hit single behind them. It wasn't quite the sort of band that came to our small town. We joked they must have been booked ages before they hit the headlines and charts and were cheaper and less trendy.

That made it quite an event locally and a memorable night for a packed and excited crowd. TRB were brilliant live, they'd been gigging a lot in those early years and had a great set and performance in them. The hit single “2-4-6-8 Motorway” was a top five hit in the UK in October 1978 and an obvious crowd pleaser. 

Tom Robinson is still electric live

It was more pop rock and felt quite different to many of their other songs. A bit less punk rage and protest perhaps. But the other songs in the set covered a range of topics with plenty of anger and points to make and held the audience's attention fully. 

I bought their first album Power In The Darkness when it came out a few months after the gig in May 1978. It included a bonus disc with extra tracks and both were crammed with their songs and protests. The sleeve notes quoted the founding declaration of  Rock Against Racism which Robinson supported. This on the back of the gig was all heady fuel indeed for my teenage self back then.