It’s not the first time that I have ventured to the Warwick Arts Centre at Warwick University to see the Levellers once again sell out this fine venue.
The supporting act a 3 piece fun folk band from Cornwall, the 3 Daft Monkeys who I’ve seen support the Levellers before. They entertained us with their very addictive upbeat musical arrangement including passionate and vibrant fiddle playing. They warmed up for the Levs with melodies from past & present albums including Hubbadillia, Social Vertigo, Astral Eyes, Maximillian, and Faces. Be sure to check them out at a festival near you soon, well worth a look see!
After a short 15 minute interval, the lights dimmed to a Dolby surround sound thunder intro as The Levellers grace the stage and launch straight into a classic pogo favourite 100 years of Solitude. The Levs never fail to please their fans, playing songs from nearly all of their 7 studio albums, 5 of which are due to be re-released and re-mastered in June by WarnerBros/Rhino Label
Before What A Beautiful Day starts, Mark mentioned that he sung it that same afternoon on BBC Coventry Radio and said that he wanted to sing it properly this evening (actually I thought his version on the radio that afternoon was very warming indeed ). The crowd once again went bonkers and the mosh pit started getting pretty rowdy as the crowd merged forward. A couple of scuffles broke out, but by the end of the song, peace and harmony returned to the fun loving crowd. The next song was The Boatman, which featured Mark Chadwick on drums and Charlie taking Mark’s place at the front with his Timbali around his neck marching around the stage with Jez and Jon.. I distinctively remember seeing this part of the show for the first time in 1992 downstairs in the Atrium at Birmingham NEC. Happy Days!
As they did then , the same happens tonight, The hall darkens and the neon coloured Stevie Boakes warms up his didgeridoo to One Way as he emerges from the wings. Boaksey parades around the front of the stage virtually hanging over the front and pointing at the crowd sending everyone into a wild frenzy with fore fingers aloft as the chorus builds.
Steve continues to play his self made amazing didge for the next song Sell Out during which Jon the fiddler holds his fiddle bow over his head as if it was an Excalibur. After the classic One Way Anthem, Simon Friend stands alone poised on the stage for his solo ballads.
Before playing Men-An-Tol, Simon announced embarrassingly “Sorry, but Steve Boakes has just pinched my bum!!”. Simon continues & performs another great solo, an acoustic version of The Road. Mark then joins him on the stage lighting a cigarette and mentions sarcastically that July was on its way..
One of my favourites, and a real crowd-pleaser was Burford Stomp from the Freeborn John Album CD/DVD which will be released on 19 of May at Levellers Day in Burford, Oxfordshire.
The Warwick gig is in full swing with faves Forgotten Ground, Carry Me, The Game & Riverflow ending the first section of the gig. After much cheering, stomping, and clapping, the hard-hitting Another Man’s Cause opened the first encore, which was swiftly followed by Liberty Song, and Devil Went Down to Georgia.
There was another surprising encore What You Know, featuring the supporting act 3 Daft Monkeys, with Athena doing a fiddle off with Jon Sevink and Tim playing flute and dancing about with Jez. This was great, the song seemed to go on for about 10 minutes (not long enough in my opinion), and the whole audience were dancing and singing, as fast as the 2 bands were.
This was truly a great energy-filled finale to the show which left the crowd exhausted but with a will for more.
Setlist; 100 years of solitude / Fifteen years / Last man alive / Hope Street / What A Beautiful day / The Boatman / One way / Sell Out / Men an tol / The road / Come on / Burford stomp / Forgotten ground / Carry me / The game / The Riverflow / (Break) / Another man’s cause / Liberty song / Devil went down to Georgia / (Break) / What you know
© Review & Photography by: Roy & Debbie Sandbrook