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Live / stage review

Friends and radicals: Grace Petrie at Leadmill

Two years late but more relevant than ever: why Britain needs Grace Petrie.

25 September 2022 at

'Finally' the crowd shout as Grace Petrie walks onto the Leadmill stage. The sentiment is understandable. People have been waiting nearly two years for this gig: it was meant to take place in October 2020, then December 2021, and then May 2022. But if ever there was a time for one of the country’s top protest singers to arrive in the People's Republic of South Yorkshire, it’s now. Without going into it too much, it’s been a busy month politically.

If a week is a long time in politics, two years is a long time for a protest singer. There's always that risk that in that time the world could have changed for the better, and your songs go from commentary to history. But fortunately (or rather, unfortunately), Grace’s songs seem more relevant tonight than ever before.

‘Farewell to Welfare’ sits heavy. Last week’s budget was the second biggest ever for tax cuts. I’m sure I’m not the only person thinking: 'What will we be saying farewell to next?' ‘God Save The Hungry’ is angry – angrier than I have heard it. This is a song whose time has come. If I was Grace, I'd be working on a campaign to get it to number one for the King’s coronation.

But despite the political situation, this isn’t a sad gig. The opposite. At one point Grace introduces a song about leaving Glastonbury for the birth of her niece. and an audience member shouts: “She’s eight already!” This might be a gig that’s full of radicals, but it’s also a gig that’s full of friends. I’m not going to lie, I needed this gig. I went into the Leadmill feeling disappointment about the state of the world, but I left wanting to go out and make it a better place.

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