As we entered the hall having half-lost at smuggling in our miniature wines, The Selecter had already begun. Seeming quite vitriolic Pauline Black shouts there’s nothing good about nationalism before singing ‘Meanwhile in London’ and bursting into ‘London’s Burning’ with intense anger. She ended this with a relieved remark of, ‘I feel so much better now.’ As a scot who voted yes in the crowd, I felt this was a little harsh on us… luckily my mood was rescued by watching a fellow smuggler being caught with a wine bottle tail. It looks like the security have mellowed at 02 as the offending booze was confiscated as opposed to the usual ejection of said party from the building.
The band then got down to the business of all their bouncy classics. Black clearly feeling a little subdued by the fact that this was a Levellers crowd at the gig stated here’s a song you might recognize and right enough On My Radio got the crowd up the front and the whole room bouncing about albeit it wasn’t the ska professionalism you’d expect at a ska gig. There was definitely a different vibe from the last time I saw them play with the Skatalites in the HMV Picture House in Edinburgh but well worth it, there was some brilliant theatrical keyboard playing that was quite hilarious.
The Levellers came on with an explosion of white confetti and Beautiful Day. From the offing the sound, visuals and lighting are amazing and exactly what you’d expect from a band that have been doing since the early 90’s. Bless them as you get closer up they have aged and are visibly not as elastic as they used to be. But hey I saw the Skatalites one time at a festival and I’m pretty certain that one of them had a zimmer frame. The band played with the brass section of the Selecter and that was great to hear some new sounds to some old tunes. Unfortunately Pauline Black was lost when she dueted with Mark as was the regular female vocalist. Sorry ladies but those were weak performances.
It was interesting that although the Leve11ers have continued making new music that it is still the tunes that drove me out of my hometown in the mid 90’s are the same ones that are liked best today. They managed to create a real movement out of their music back then. We hear Hope Street, One Way, The Boatman….not in that order because I wasn’t taking notes but I was very surprised not to hear Men an Tol and was delighted to hear some one else shout out for it. A wee bit of dissent from the backbenches. Something a little more dark and atmospheric would have been nice to break it up a bit. I heard this tune performed live at the Barra’s during the Zeitgeist tour and it sent you straight out of the room and onto a foggy mystical stone circle, also it is my favorite. Chadwick quipped at this also saying that we the crowd had chosen these tunes…did you do an online thing asking people Mark? If you did I missed it! Regardless the gig was brilliantly performed without visibly tiring the lads out. Fair shout to them for playing the Devil went down to Georgia at the end. I wasn’t sure about the satanic salute that was encouraged throughout…I felt like I was at an 80’s Iron Maiden gig ….in fact I shouted “what the fuck was all that about?” To which Mark responded something like “we don’t get it either!” I was touched to be in a conversation that I don’t even think anyone else noticed. We had brought a wee caped super hero to to chuck at them but that was confiscated by the security. Obviously they were keen to take that home….along with the wine!
Reviewer : Sarah Marshall