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08 April 2005: Levellers - The Winding Wheel, Chesterfield, England, UK
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I felt terrible…
Chesterfield seems like a nice place, but I arrived in what I thought was good time to get a parking place and make it to the venue, but with what turned out to be, nowhere near enough time.
After driving around a number of the car parks in Chesterfield for what seemed like an hour, and was at least 30 minutes, looking for a space to park the motor, it became very apparent that I was going to have to hike quite a way to see the Levellers. A space was finally achieved about a mile from the venue and I was carefully watched by the CCTV system as I made my way out of the car park.
Having hiked to the venue, I arrived to find the Levellers already on stage and three quarters of the way through the first number, according to the lady taking the tickets. I immediately missed the next song as the lady on the door said I needed to retain my ticket if I wanted to go upstairs. Me being me, I immediately lost it in the depths of my coat and spent the next five minutes searching the bottomless pit that is my coat pocket. Having eventually relocated the ticket, it occurred to me that I would probably not want to go upstairs anyway.
The Winding Wheel is a nice venue, which reminded me in some ways of Stokes' Victoria Hall. I took my place near the sound desk and settled down for the show.
I found myself enjoying myself immensely. It was great to once again feel the full on might of a Levellers electric gig and, much as I enjoyed the recent acoustic shows, this just blew them away. The new songs "Make U Happy" (the new single, released on 18 April 2005), "Last Man Alive" and a couple of others all sounded fully formed and bode well for the new album. "Last Man Alive" certainly seemed more impressive than when I last experienced it and I am now looking forward to the new album with anticipation.
It wasn’t all new stuff though and there were a number of older numbers thrown in, such as "Fifteen years" (I think), "Sell out" (with what seemed to have some new bits from Simon in the middle), "What a Beautiful Day" and "Liberty".
Mark was in fine form, telling us that the last time they’d been to Chesterfield was 16 years ago, probably about the last time I was there as well. Simon, (with new longer hair) played his solo song "When Love Runs Out Of Time", which, as usual, went down a storm.
And then we were into "Dirty Davey", "Burford Stomp" and "Riverflow". Faster and faster as ever, with the band looking like they were enjoying every minute and the fans certainly were.
I can’t remember what the first encore was (it might have been "Battle of the Beanfield"), but the second one was definitely "What you know". Fantastic to welcome this back as the closing number, especially during the fiddle lead bit, where, with Jon playing faster and faster, Simon seemed to be asking him how to play it on the guitar.
The Levellers left the stage to what would have been a standing ovation had it not been a standing venue, waving and thanking the crowd as they went.
It was good to see a Levellers gig sold out again and everyone in high spirits.
As soon as the lights went up I made a dive for the bar, battling my way against the tide heading for the exits, only to find that the bar had shut. Cursing my luck I forced my way to the exit, spotting that McDermott's Two Hours were the support on the way. Twenty years I have waited to see McDermott's Two Hours and I forget they are support and turn up too late to see them. It’s the end of the world as we know it and I felt terrible. Cursing my luck I forced my way to the exit.
Just outside the exit were what appeared to be Rich and the Levellettes, playing a rousing version of "Julie" with just an acoustic guitar and a lot of enthusiasm, to keep us entertained on the way out. Keep up the good work.
On the walk back to the car I was abused by a Chesterfield drinker, who’d just finished drinking his eight pints (well one and a half, but it counts as eight if you spill the rest on the pub floor), with the classic line, aimed at everyone who went to the gig, of "Aha, the great unwashed". I ignored it as so many others did.
Isn’t it funny how some people go through life with their eyes and ears firmly closed? And some of them have read the NME occasionally as well (which doesn’t help)!
Buy the new single and give the Levellers the support they deserve!
The views expressed in these reviews do not necessarily reflect those of the livemusicreview.co.uk team.
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