It was clear from the start that this tribute evening wasn't going to be merely a run-through of Woody Guthrie standards.
It developed out of Billy Bragg's Mermaid Avenue project, which shows a side of Guthrie we don't hear about from academics pontificating on his still-topical recordings.
With the aid of a book of lyrics annotated with Guthrie's hand-written notes, and sometimes employing slide guitar to give an authentic bluesy sound, Bragg performs songs about the singer's crush on Ingrid Bergman, his love for his children and wife, his enthusiasm for double entendres and intrigue at new phenomena like flying saucers and electric guitars.
Guthrie's notes sometimes add an extra dimension to songs like Don't You Marry, learnt from a shoe-shine boy in Texas, and Slipknot, a desperately sad number Guthrie dedicated to the victims of lynch mobs strung up under the bridge near the house he grew up in.
But sometimes songs like I Ain't Got No Home In This World Anymore spoke for themselves, chiming very much with today.
The appearance of Grace Petrie brought Guthrie's legacy right up to date.
She's only been writing songs for two years but her songs about economic recession - "Is it my economic nightmare/or just Maggie Thatcher's dream?" - and former equalities minister Theresa May in Farewell Welfare are stand-outs.
Her energy and passion were infectious and there was a rare buzz in the air that music could change things.
US singer-songwriter Joe Henry, performing a mix of Guthrie's songs and his own blues and jazz-inspired numbers, often struggled to connect emotionally with the back of the large auditorium but there was no denying the power of Guthrie's 1913 Massacre, the highlight of his set.
Henry and Petrie joined Bragg at the end for an encore of Guthrie's more famous songs with Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos) followed by a rousing rendition of This Land Is Your Land.
Although Bragg kept joking that Bob Dylan must have been too busy and that's why he ended up with the gig of carrying Guthrie's legacy, he should be proud of the work he's done to keep Guthrie's important music and spirit alive.