Having seen and greatly enjoyed Josie Long's stand up in March this year, the minute she announced she was returning to Liverpool to perform at the Everyman, I booked tickets, bagging myself a front row seat. But I didn't just get a night of entertainment from Josie Long, I also got entertainment from the musical comic duo Jonny & the Baptists and the folk protest singer Grace Petrie.
Just what brings these talented performers together? A desire to deliver comedy, music and revolutionary socialism to empower their audiences and make them feel less alone. This was a show that really did prove that we were all in this together. This was Lefty Scum.
It was like Red Wedge, but with laughs and thankfully without Spandau Ballet.
I came to the Everyman last night as a big fan of Josie Long, and I left as a big fan of Grace Petrie and Jonny and the Baptists - artistes whose talents simply blew me away.
Jonny & the Baptists deliver side-achingly, howlingly hilarious songs about revolutionary swans, UKIP supporting fathers and the joy of Thatcher's death combined with the disappointment that, like Roy Wood's Christmas, it's not something we can celebrate everyday. Bearded, delightfully rambling between songs, and giving their performance great gusto, they're like Tenacious D....but funny and talented, obviously.
Grace Petrie took the stage to point out that she was not actually a comedian, although that didn't stop her having the audience laughing pretty much from that moment on. She blends her charismatic, quippy stage presence with some truly striking, impassioned and honest lyrics that really make you sit up and listen as they detail everything from the insane hang-up our society has with royalty, the Spanish Civil War, her disgust at UKIP and Tory homophobia to the more homegrown nature of the birth of her niece and the issues arising from dating a vegan. These are songs that provoke thought and also amuse, much like Billy Bragg at his best. Petrie delivered a bravura performance, despite her apologies that she was coming down with a cold, her impressive voice booming to the rafters as a clarion call, not to arms as she says in one track, but to give a helping hand.
And in between these startling talents is Josie Long. Since I last saw her in March, Long has had a tough few months at the hands of some extremely right wing commentators online. She touches upon this situation and how it has affected her in her performance, but she remains an inspiring, confident figure who really is, as her material touches upon, growing in stature. These neo-Nazi alt right hate preachers (and I may have shouted out that they're 'pricks' at this point, oops) have done their best to try and silence Long and many on the left, but she remains unbeaten and unbowed and, if anything, Lefty Scum was a night that told us we are not alone. It was a night that told us that yes, things can be disappointing and disheartening, things can looks scary, unequal and unfair as people are exploited and prejudiced against on a daily basis. But we are not alone. Liverpool, like other gigs along this tour, was sold out; theatres packed with like minded souls who all believe that the world should be a fairer, better place and more, that it can be too.
Lefty Scum is a show I would heartily recommend you catch - only trouble is, last night's gig was the end of the tour; a triumphant conclusion that the gang should all be incredibly proud of. I only hope that Lefty Scum can become an annual event, to inspire more and more people.
Take heart though, you can catch Grace Petrie on tour with her Lefty Christmas show (gig list at her site here) whilst Jonny & the Baptists are at London's Diorama Theatre throughout December with their Thirty Christmases show, before a short tour commencing in Feb 2018 (gig list at their site here)
I'm off now to listen to the Grace Petrie and Jonny & the Baptists albums I purchases during last night's interval and hoping they all come round again soon!