Levellers are currently on their Greatest Hits tour and played to a packed crowd at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. There were two support acts, first up a female singer performing under the name of She Makes War. It was an okay set, nothing really stand out apart from a vocal version of the ‘Doctor Who’ theme tune. Interesting how she created a vocal backing using two mikes, one recorded and played a backing vocal.
The Selecter I have seen before at Guilfest although I enjoyed tonight’s show much more. The band still feature original members Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson, who both seem to be having a great time on stage.
Good set of musicians two and I like the little ‘n’ large sax players who sounded and looked good. Enjoyed their tribute to James Bond called err ‘James Bond’ and ‘Train To Skaville’. Off course their biggest hit ‘On My Radio’ got the best reception of the night and a high energy performance from the band.
The Selecter may not have been the biggest of Two Tone bands like the Specials or Madness but they still have maintained a decent sized following and went down well with the crowd. Certainly worth seeing live if you get the chance.
Headliners the Levellers kicked off with one of their biggest hits, ‘Beautiful Day’ amid a flurry of lights and confetti making for a big start to their show. They kept the energy levels up with ‘Fifteen Years’ and ‘Belarus’, with the crowd in the stalls becoming a sea of pogoing and at times moshing fans.
Mark Chadwick kept between song banter to a minimum and instead cramming in as many tunes as they could in their set which lasted just over ninety minutes. The whole band seemed to be having fun and the dreadlocked bass player Jeremy Cunningham was a whirling dervish at times across the stage. Nice touch to having the two support acts help out on a couple of songs.
There were a couple of times when they reduced the pace of the music with a moving rendition of ‘Julie’ which led neatly into ‘Boatman Jig’ and a personal favourite ‘This Garden’. These songs had a Day-Glo didgeridoo take to the stage and the way he was swinging the instrument around some band members wisely sought refuge on the drum riser!
As you’d expect ‘One Way’ nearly lifted the roof off with the crowd singing along and there was a fast and furious end to their main set with ‘Come On’, ‘Cholera Well’ and ‘Liberty’. The Levellers are one of the few bands that can successfully harness the punk rock spirit and add it successfully to a more traditional folk rock sound.
Three encores, kicking off with a drinking song, ‘Just the One’, then a frantic version of the Charlie Daniels Band classic ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ before ‘The Riverflow’ finally closed the set. A lively and enjoyable set from the band, who impressed me greatly and if you get a chance catch them on the remaining dates of their current tour.
Review by Jason Ritchie
Photos by Simon Dunkerley
Beautiful Day, Fifteen Years, Belarus, World Freakshow, Far From Home, Together All The Way, Dog Train, Sell Out, Exodus, Julie, Boatman Jig, This Garden, One Way, Too Real, Hope Street, Truth Is, Carry Me, Come On, Cholera Well, Liberty
Encores: Just the One, The Devil Went Down to Georgia, The Riverflow
14 Nov BIRMINGHAM o2 Academy
15 Nov NORWICH UEA
16 Nov PORTSMOUTH Guildhall
18 Nov WREXHAM William Aston Hall
19 Nov NEWCASTLE o2 Academy
20 Nov SHEFFIELD o2 Academy
21 Nov GLASGOW o2 ABC
22 Nov MANCHESTER Academy
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