The Levellers live at O2 Academy Bristol - Live Music Review

Posted on: 2018-11-25

Our rating:

The Levellers will never fail to pull a crowd, they know how to party. They do things their own way and they don’t follow the rules. 30 years on and they can play Wembley or your local pub.

The Levellers burst on to the music scene unbelievably 30 years ago with their unique sound of Folk/Punk and quickly earned their place as one of the best live bands in the land. By 1994 the boys from Brighton were headlining Glastonbury in front of 300,000 thousand people, it is still voted as one of the best ever shows in the festivals history.

Tonight at the O2 Academy in Bristol, The Levellers are celebrating their 30th anniversary performing in front of a sell-out crowd. I am one of the lucky ones to be here to enjoy the night ahead.

The Levellers in Bristol - gig review

The night starts with solo performer Nick Parker. It is gentle, easy and more in tune with the hazy festival summer sounds from warmer nights that tonight.

Next up is the Sean McGowan band. This fella is so happy to be here. He speaks and sounds just like a young Billy Bragg. His enthusiasm is contagious and he tells a great story between songs, thanking everyone for being here with an honest appreciation. His songs are catchy and from the heart. I am sure we have not seen the last of him.

Sean McGowan supporting The Levellers at O2 Academy Bristol

With the venue now bursting at the seams, the lights go out and the stage is set. The back drop matches the draped amps with the new age designs that have followed them for three decades. First up is England My Home, the band look healthy, rejuvenated and full of energy. 100 Years of Solitude and World Freak Show get the crowd moving and into the zone. Possibly the biggest difference from the bygone days are that the original following of students and travellers are now older and better dressed and not quite so wild.

As ever The Levellers are unpredictable and follow no rules, instead of just the expected well known numbers the band play some of the more obscure tracks from the lesser known albums. The Fear, Wheel and Aspects of Spirit are just three of these.

Two more favourites follow, Julie and Three Friends before the entrance of Stephen Boakes and his trusted didgeridoo, looking like a cross between Pennywise the clown from IT and Braveheart. He blows the tones that hauntingly lead into the infamous One Way of Life, the crowd go mad and sing every word of the anthem that is owned by the faithful.

Mark Chadwick stands back from the mic and up steps Simon Friend to sing the mystical Men-an-tol. The band crash into 15 years next, this is a firm favourite. This followed by Carry Me and Far From Home. Taking it to the next level the boys serve up Dirty Davey, this lets the band show off their musical skills to excess. Finishing with the Cholera Well the team bow out and leave the stage.

The Levellers return to the stage bursting straight into Beautiful Days, this is possibly the most popular song of the show sending the crowd into a frenzy. Without a gap Riverflow is next keeping the ecstatic crowd bouncing. To finish this superb show What You Know seals it. It is folk/punk played at its limit, getting faster and faster until its explosive end.

The Levellers will never fail to pull a crowd, they know how to party. They do things their own way and they don’t follow the rules. 30 years on and they can play Wembley or your local pub.

Tonight they were solid, tight, energetic and confirmation that nothing can touch live music when it is played like this.



Article by:

Mike Headington

Born and bred in Weston-super-Mare, Mike has played in bands over the last 30 years and has an avid interest in a wide range of music genres. With a passion for live music he spends endless nights watching all types of bands, both famous and not so famous. With a love of Bristol’s infamous venues and the thriving music scene he also follows the local football club in red with a passion. His mission statement is...Keep it real, keep it live and Keep on Rocking!!