[Review] Levellers play Southampton Guildhall
The Levellers played Portsmouth Pyramid centre on April 21st 2009. Even though we were in attendance, writing one of our very first live music reviews for Able2, the date of the said concert had past us by.
Two years ago our novice reviewing methods and presentation had much to be desired. We found ourselves positioned next to the sound desk so we could read the set list whilst making notes on our mobile phone. The date of the concert was absent on our published article, but thanks to a fan standing with his back to us in tonight’s crowd, we were reminded of the actual date, printed on the back of a his merchandised T shirt.
The Levellers second album, Levelling The Land, was released twenty years ago. To celebrate its anniversary the record is being played in full tonight, after a supporting slot from The Wonder Stuff and a short film portraying English leadership over the past two decades. The screening, which reminds us of the dreaded Thatcher years and the broken promises of New Labour has it's nadir of audience participation when Cameron appears to the sound of disgruntled boos echoing around the walls of Southampton Guildhall.
The mood of tonight's coalition lifts as soon as the opening sounds of 'One Way' are heard from the distinguished voice of Mark Chadwick, bringing back memories of playing vinyl’s on record players and car stereos chewing up cassette tapes.
Fifteen Years preludes with bassist Jeremy Cunningham jumping around the stage resembling a lost outer-soul dancing around a Somerset Stone Circle and the closing notes of 'The Boatman' are sabotaged by Stephen Boakes playing with his didgeridoo. One would think we would complete this paragraph with a Rolf Harris reference, although seeing as the four-eyed beady old has-been declined our request to design our new logo; this is sadly not the case!
The final track on Side A, 'Far From Home', sees the front rows emerge into a friendly middle-aged student riot, although the only fees spent on this occasion were controlled by online ticket outlets opposed to a greedy Conservative government.
The flipside to tonight’s concert starts with 'Sell Out’; of course if you have a copy of the album you wouldn't need us to bring that to your attention. Although an added bonus track in the form of 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia' (originally sung by Charlie Daniels) may throw some of you off course when it was played two tracks beforehand but there's nothing wrong with a bit of variety is there?
Sticking back with the album's track list the atmospheric vibe which swam alongside 'The Riverflow' and the victorious closing number 'Battle of the Beanfield' unsurprisingly called for an encore or two.
Rounding off with Hope Street, Carry Me, Cholera Way and Beautiful Day the past two hours in the company of The Levellers won't change the world, it won't change the views from today’s governments, but it beats staying at home watching some useless Australian jerk presenting an repeated episode of 'Animal Hospital'!
Far From Home
Travelogue (Dance before the storm)
The Devil Went Down to Georgia
Another Man's Cause
Well Beautiful Day