It’s no secret on these pages about my mild obsession with all things Levellers – and they didn’t disappoint last night to pick me up after another serving of turd courtesy of Forest.
I hotfooted it straight from the City Ground to meet the rest of our group going to the gig, and we headed straight to the early-opening Rock City. Spotted Jen, Amanda and Brian at the front of the queue, as ever!
Also saw the perpetually dishevelled Mr Chadwick ambling up the other side of Talbot Street, I imagine having had a few cheeky pints down at Langtry’s.
First up though were The Wonderstuff, a band I was dimly aware of ‘in the day’, and have been listening to more recently – wondering why I didn’t know more about them. At least, two of the original band were there – but they were great fun. Miles certainly seemed to be genuinely enjoying his time on the stage and this was infectious into a greater degree of crowd participation than you’d usually get for a support act.
I watched the support from a cunningly secure eyrie on the balcony which provided a cracking view of the stage, but was a bit distant. The big plus side for The Levellers in this gig – the 20th anniversary of Levelling the Land – was that they were playing it in order, so I knew which songs were coming up. After a montage of political imagery the boys took the stage, and I’d found myself a suitable spot in the mosh pit as they broke straight into One Way.
The thing that struck me, around three people from the front in the middle of the stage, was the volume of people around me singing along with every song. This is an album that, twenty years on, still speaks to people with the ferocity it did back in the day – indeed, the crowd singing competed with the PA which I’ve never experienced before. It’s quite moving really. Impressive too that people were finding the air to belt out singing whilst leaping around and the usual pushing and shoving!
As the half-way point of the album was reached a selection of B-sides featured whilst the virtual LP or tape was being turned over. I was starting to tire from my proximity to the stage, but really wanted to be up close for Sell Out so toughed it out to do just that – it was a worthy endeavour, it’s probably one of my favourite songs on the album. It’s followed by probably the first song of theirs that ever really ‘hit’ me back in the day.
Another Man’s Cause is a timeless anthem and sadly seemingly always relevant – it’s also a quieter song. My timing was pretty good in making a tactical withdrawal to the balcony from this point, because I wanted to hear the band rather than the fan singing at this point. It worked really well – I’m getting a bit too old to last a whole Levs gig in the mosh pit! Being right at the front is okay, but 3-5 people back is hard work!
Eventually Beanfield ends the album proper – there was time for a few extra tracks like Cholera Well and Beautiful Day before oddly we were outta there by 10pm, a bizarrely early finish. Having had a fair bit to drink throughout the day though, I was ready to head home rather than stay out. I think I made the right call – including the chicken tikka kebab from Victoria Kebab on the way to the taxi.