Rolling around the Lincoln ring road following my Google map/direction finder, I thought I was never going to reach the venue, but eventually after heading in what seemed to be completely the wrong direction for 20 minutes I followed the final instruction – After 94 feet, stop – and I arrived in The Engine Shed’s car park.
After a brief exchange of “Hello, how ya doin’s” with Mark Chadwick (who was presumably being shown back to where he should’ve been by an Engine Shed employee) in the car park, which at least proved I wasn’t late, I was ushered into the venue.
The Engine Shed is not what I was expecting at all. An apparently newly built-for-purpose, rather than an old, engine shed, it looked like a sort of mini-NEC arena and was superb – With the sad exception of the security people, who seemed to think they were working at the NEC.
Catching the last couple of numbers from the support act while queuing for a beer didn’t do much for me but I should have paid more attention as just as I was beginning to get into their last song, it was over. I didn’t even catch what they were called.
While waiting for the Levellers to appear I spent the next fifteen minutes with my feet slowly gluing themselves to the dance floor. I’ve known sticky dance floors before, Rock City circa 1988 is a prime example, but this took the biscuit. You could barely lift your feet in some places for fear of losing your shoes.
The Levellers unexpectedly appeared high above the stage and descended a staircase like Gods descending to earth. We were taken straight into “100 Years Of Solitude” and the venue exploded. The mosh pit rocked, the “No Crowd Surfing” signs were ignored and a rather younger audience than is currently the norm at a Levellers gig went for it big style.
One of the benefits of seeing a band more than once on the same tour is that you can be pretty certain of which song is coming up next. When “Forgotten Ground” started I thought they’d reworked the setlist, but it had just been moved slightly.
The thing about this evening was that every track sounded even more powerful and full of energy than is usually the case. Whether it was to do with the newness of the venue and the sound system I don’t know, but whatever happened it inspired the Levellers to even greater heights than usual.
Boaksey was in attendance again tonight and treated us to his usual manic stage antics during “One Way”, Mark introducing him as “My Girlfriend” and planting a sloppy kiss on his lips.
“Forgotten Ground” got the prize for unexpectedly fast track of the night as the band went through the speedy parts even faster than they usually do. What a changed beast this song is to when it was welcomed back to the setlist a couple of years ago as “Forgotten The Words”. Marvellous stuff.
Banter with the audience was at a minimum tonight as the band were slick and tight, powering their way confidently through the set, the audience baying for more during the breaks.
“Come On” blew me away and rocked the venue into “Burford Stomp” and “Carry Me”.
As the band returned for an encore, they slowed it down for “Another Man’s Cause” and then sped it up again to an even faster pace for “The Riverflow” and “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”, Jon’s bow seeming to almost set fire to the strings of his fiddle.
After another short break we were treated to an even faster than normal “What You Know” and then, to my dismay, that was it.
It seemed like Lincoln hadn’t had an evening like this for sometime and the place had certainly been blown away by the show tonight, the last night of the UK tour and the last UK indoor show the Levellers will play this year.
Two questions remain;
Why was Jon hitting Simon over the head with his fiddle bow and;
Which festival dates have I got tickets for again?
Setlist (approximate running order); 100 Years Of Solitude / Fifteen Years / Last Man Alive / Hope Street / What A Beautiful Day / The Boatman / One Way / When Love Runs Out Of Time (Simon Solo) / Men-An-Tol / The Road / Forgotten Ground / Come On / Burford Stomp / Carry me / The Game / Liberty Song / Break / Another Man’s Cause / The Riverflow / Devil Went Down To Georgia / Break / What You Know