03 May 2002: Levellers – De Montfort Arena, Leicester, England, UK

Leicester de montfort university was a venue i saw the Levellers at years ago (before they were famous). From what i remember, the gig was in the long, narrow room with wooden panelled walls. Is it my memory that’s going? More than likely. It was nothing like that. Instead, there was a very wide room, which was entered by going through a small tunnel, much like a rabbit hole (though i’ve never been in a rabbit hole).

Cheap drinks always make a show better, and this is one thing you can be sure of at a student union. Having missed the support band (i always miss the support band), i could not possibly say whether they had contributed to the good mood of the crowd (and i don’t even know who they were). All i can say, is that there seemed to be a good vibe about the place.

At about 21: 20 the background music went off and the music that the Levellers were to come onto began playing. And what a choice! Holiday in cambodia, by the dead kennedys. Why has nobody else thought of using this classic to come onto?

The Levellers appeared as the last chants of jello biafra rang out from the speakers and they immediately launched into a rousing rendition of ‘england my home’, which was well appreciated by the audience. There followed pounding versions of ‘sell-out’, ‘three friends’ and ‘liberty’, which are always guaranteed to get the crowd pumping.

About this far into the set you tend to get carried away by the music and struggle to remember which tracks were played in which order. Lets just say that after ‘liberty’ the Levellers preceded to play a couple of rip-roaring new numbers which made me look forward to the new album (due out in september (ish)) even more. These new tracks seemed to fit in with the old favourites almost seamlessly and if i had to compare them with other Levellers tracks then in my opinion they would sit with the levelling the land album the best.

Other highlights of the the show were ‘far from home’, ‘the game’, ’15 years’, ‘the riverflow’ and the old favourite ‘battle of the beanfield’, which were interspersed with ‘belarus’, ‘men-an-tol’, ‘gold and silver’, ’61 minutes of pleading’ and ‘edge of the world’.

There was also a stunning version, sung solo by simon (with his second guitar, after the string got spectacularly broken halfway through the intro), of (a track which i recognised, knew the words to, sung along to and thoroughly enjoyed, but can’t remember the title of, but turned out to be) “elation”.

The Levellers went off to rapturous applause and after much cheering, clapping and footstomping, came back on to play ‘dance before the storm’ and ‘the last days of winter’, which i must say made the evening for me.

Again, they left the stage, but the audience wouldn’t let them go and they came back on to perform one last song, ‘just the one’ which capped off the evening perfectly!

This sort of venue seems to suit the Levellers better than any other. They can rouse the crowd, comment on people’s haircuts and generally enjoy themselves, the way they never could in an arena. I’m probably being selfish as i prefer this size of venue to a large arena, but i still hope that the new album and the new songs bring the Levellers continued success that they deserved.

An arena question to end on, why is the venue called de montfort arena? Isn’t an arena a large ten, 15 or 20,000 capacity venue, whereas de montfort arena is only a 600ish capacity venue. Delusions of grandeur from the student union?…