There is something wonderfully timeless about a Levellers gig. Every time I have seen them over the past twenty-odd years they have always been the same, giving a full-on performance for their adoring fans and leaving nothing on the stage as they reluctantly haul themselves off to the calm sanity of backstage.
Having said all that, a few subtle changes appeared this time – some inevitable, some surprising and one slightly irritating.
The inevitable change, I suppose, is that they’re all twenty years older and, maybe, wiser resulting in a slightly less energetic stage presence – Jeremy Leveller’s traditionally frenzied jumping around much reduced from days of yore.
A surprising change is the audience demographic. The Lev’s conventional crowd was usually drawn from the late-teen, early twenties student end of things but there were as many sixty-odds there as sixteens – surely a refreshing sign that the band have kept their core fan base whilst attracting many new fans along the way.
The evening got under way with an eclectic six songs from Laura Kidd aka She Makes War. Although she’s been around for a while, it would appear that she’s now getting bigger gigs, if only as support, and rightly so. Her short set was well received – intricate songs plus her interesting use of repeat and delay pedals make further investigation essential.
Next up were The Selecter, for me (and quite a few others in my vicinity), a very strange choice of support for the Levellers. Ska? What relevance to crusty folk/punk has ska? They played an overly long set for a support and which, with a couple of exceptions, might well have been the same song played over and over again. It was obvious that a good few people enjoyed their set. It was also obvious that those same people had undeniably enjoyed a little too much patronage of the bar.
And so to the Levellers. Despite a rather divaesque wait, the band eventually exploded on stage with a ticker-tape welcome and launched into two crowd favourites ‘Beautiful Day’ and ‘Fifteen Years’ – the tone was set, the crowd stimulated to full mosh-mode.
As this is the band’s ‘Greatest Hits’ tour, anthemic gem after anthemic gem followed with the likes of ‘Belaruse’, ‘Far From Home’, ‘One Way’, ‘Sell Out’ and ‘Hope Street’ cranking up the fervour and the brilliant ‘Cholera Well’ and ‘Liberty Song’ providing the coup-de-grace.
Or so you thought – the three track encore of ‘Just The One’, Jon Leveller’s masterpiece ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ and ‘The Riverflow’ turned the crowd into a baying mob and only served to underscore that live, the Levellers are in a class of their own.
Review by Alan Jones
Photos by Simon Dunkerley
Setlist: Beautiful Day / Fifteen Years / Belaruse / World Freak Show / 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 / The Cholera Well / Liberty Song.
Encore: Just The One / The Devil Went Down To Georgia / The Riverflow
Gig review (London, 13 November 2014)
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