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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Tom Robinson
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Tom Robinson - That punk rocker 45 years later

And here we are some 45 years later. I’ve just been to see Tom Robinson - Up Close And Personal. A run of gigs he describes as  ‘songs and stories spanning five decades of adventures in the music industry’. It's a venue in Cambridge with a small but sold out audience of around 180. 

Robinson remains very current in the world of music, in particular through his BBC Radio 6 show. He regularly champions new music there as shown by his supporting act for the evening Sam Eagle. Robinson’s delight at introducing him,  and Eagle’s respect for Robinson, were both very evident. Eagle’s first album Are You Listening was released that day. His short acoustic set was very chilled and mellow and he looks to be one to watch out for.

Robinson ensured more warm applause for Eagle and told us he’ll be back on in 15 minutes. When he returns to a simple stage, he explains he is his own roadie and sound engineer for the night. It’s the man himself with a couple of his acoustic guitars and a keyboard. The format for the night included plenty of his music and hits plus a lot of humourous memories and scene setting introductions for the songs. 

He is no longer that angry young man surrounded by his band. This was a much more reflective Robinson. Now aged 73 he’s clearly still passionate at heart about many issues. The lyrics of several songs have been updated to cleverly put his protests against the establishment, injustice and much more into the current context. It’s notable though that although he has updated the words, the main focus points of his ire remain very similar to his earlier days. 

The rewrites worked especially well on “Up Against The Wall”, “Days That Changed The World” and “Mighty Sword Of Justice”. The acoustic guitar and keyboard soften the anger slightly, he’s now less fast and furious but very much power and passion. Robinson’s notable voice and distinctive timbre with gravelly tones remains, his lyrics continue to tell a story and make his points clearly and well.