Posted by Danielle Millea.
Reviewed on 5th December 2016.
Live at O2 Academy Leeds on Thursday, 1st December 2016
25 years of 'Levelling the Land', the album that got many a fan into the Levellers. Is celebrated tonight in Leeds with a cracking set of support acts to boot. Gaz Brookfield has the crowd singing along to thoughtful tracks like the rocking 'Be The Bigger Man' about bullying. He's a charming and happy young man who will no doubt go far in the acoustic folk hero route no doubt. His stage joy is truly infectious.
This is the first time I have seen Ferocious Dog, as they missed their Bearded Theory set and then we kept missing their shows. We mainly wanted to catch up with one Les Carter, formally known as Fruitbat from Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. Jim Bob played the Brudenell exactly a week before this, so it's kinda like Carter USM in Yorkshire. Well not but the closest we will ever get again sadly. The folk punksters are rousing the crowd from the get go, totem poles of people are forming in the mosh pit and everyone is having a ball. Frontman Ken Bonsall has heartfelt messages between the songs and also dedicates many songs to many audience members. Dan Booths fiddle brings it all together nicely and really warms the way for the Levellers, not that they need any help.
Before the Levs take to the stage there is a short video shown on the backdrop, featuring hard-hitting news footage and interview clips of people on the Beanfield and snippets of life in the 90s. The boos from the crowd as Thatcher and Blair appear show the crowds contempt for these figures, and the cheer for Corbyn says a lot really. The band appear as silhouettes as the film draws to a close, and it's straight into 'One Way', complete with confetti cannons! From then on the hits keep coming, as this album was indeed one hit after another, especially for the fans. Most Levellers live shows feature a huge dose of this album and it's easy to see why. '15 Years' was always a good tune, and then it was onto 'The Boatman'. The Boatman Jig was and still is one of the most catchiest beats my ears have ever heard, with Mr Boakes playing the day glow didgeridoo perfect every time.
'The Riverflow' raises the roof as the punkiest tune from the album. Mark Chadwick announces at the start that sadly drummer Charlie Heather is in Glasgow hospital as he has pneumonia, so Ferocious Dog's drummer is stepping in and does a great job. I actually like the other beat he gives Riverflow before the breakdown!
After 'Battle of the Beanfield' there's still time for a few more hits. 'This Garden', 'The Shame', 'Truth is', 'Carry Me', The Cholera Well' all show the bands range of album sounds in a great way. The encore has the still unfortunately true 'Julie with 'The Flowers Of The Forest' and 'The Crags Of Stirling' mixed in. Of course 'Beautiful Day' finishes the night with a bang. There is never a bad Levellers gig, kudos to Scott Walters for stepping up at such short notice and playing so well. Lets hope Charlie is well on the mend.