The Levellers rarely, if ever, disappoint in the live environment, but for this gig – the last in a lengthy European tour (and the last of the decade as Mark cheerfully informs us) has a particular buzz to it that surpasses the normal energy of a Levellers gigs and pushes it into the realms of a truly special night.
From the moment the band blast on stage it is clear that they mean business and the choice of song sin the set list reflect this with the classics coming hard and fast and eight songs being drawn from landmark album ‘levelling the land’. Highlights include a glorious rendering of ‘the game’ which still thrills with its violin-to-punk intro, the euphoric blast of ‘come on’ (the only track form the distressingly underrated ‘Green blade rising’), ‘One way’, which comes complete with a heavily painted and clearly bonkers didgeridoo player, and the avante-doom of ‘three friends’ which excels as one of the heaviest tracks the Levellers have ever recorded.
Yet picking highlights from such a set is largely redundant given that there was not a dull moment throughout the ninety minute performance. With the audience matching the band for energy, Jeremy’s trademark flying dreads, Mark’s soaring vocals (and of course the glorious harmonies that Simon brings to the mix) as well as a set drawn from the whole of the band’s not inconsiderable history (although ‘Hello pig’ is sadly ignored) The Levellers ended their tour in style and for those of us who were there it was a memorable evening of the type that can only be provided by the very best live acts.
Ultimately the Levellers, as great as they are on record, are the ultimate live band blending passion with precision and politics with eloquence. The visceral thrill of their none-more-punk attitude is offset by the beautiful folk elements that the band have made their unique stock-in-trade and with a back catalogue so rich in memorable and exciting songs, the Levellers deliver the goods time and time again. It looks like it’s time to start anticipating next year’s tour.
*photo – Andy Pitt