The definition of frustration is arriving at a venue just after 8pm only to discover that both support bands have been and gone. This is the situation which I found myself in tonight, made all the worse by the fact that the main support tonight were Ska stalwarts The Selector whom I have seen live before and was keen to catch again.
Still cursing my luck as I headed down the front, the lights suddenly dimmed and The Levellers took to the stage, talk about cutting it close! This current jaunt is billed as the greatest hits tour in support of the recently released ‘Greatest Hits’ album and the packed crowd were anticipating a good night.
The band kicked off with ‘Beautiful Day’ which had the throng dancing from the word go. Mark Chadwick was in good voice as were the crowd who were word perfect throughout. The set list tonight had been put together with help of an online vote and was a good mix of tracks from all points of the band’s career. ‘World Freak Show’ had the older fans reminiscing on the early days, whilst ‘Truth Is’ from the band’s last album brought things up to date.
There were also a couple of guest appearances during the set with Pauline Black from The Selecter adding vocals on ‘Together All The Way’ and Laura Kidd of She Makes War doing the honours on ‘This Garden’. ‘Dog Train’ also featured a couple of the guys from The Selecter on brass which added an extra dimension to the song live.
Musically the band never missed a beat whether they were playing flat out as on ‘Belaruse’ and ‘The Cholera Well’ or more sedately on ‘Carry Me’. There was an appearance of the digeridoo on both ‘This Garden’ and ‘One Way’ ably wielded by Stephen Boakes which raised a huge cheer from the now sweating masses.
‘Liberty’ rounded off the main set in fine fashion and left the crowd crying for more. The band duly obliged and returned for a laidback run through of ‘Just The One’ before upping the pace again with a cover of the Charlie Daniels Band ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ with Jon on fiddle playing up a storm. Only one song could round things off and ‘Riverflow’ had bodies bouncing in all directions.
This was an excellent set from a band who never fail to entertain. The grinning, sweat streaked faces of the crowd as they headed to the door were evidence of a job well done by one of folk-rock’s most enduring and best loved bands. Just a shame that the evening started so bloody early!
Review and photos by David Wilson
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