Before embarking on their huge tour next year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their album Levelling The Land, The Levellers have been warming up with a grass roots tour of smaller venues in towns away from the normal tour circuit. As such, I found myself at the Subscription Rooms in Stroud on a bitterly cold November evening where it was the crowd who needed to warm up first. Thankfully it wasn’t just me that had braved the cold and icy conditions as there was a lively sell-out crowd filling the venue this evening.
As the lights dim, the stage is bathed in a blue wash and a thumping bass track plays, building with the addition of some pipes as the band take to the stage and the track fades to be replaced with the sound of a fiddle, signalling the opening bars of England My Home, setting the tone for the rest of the evening, with the enthusiastic crowd getting more into the songs from the bands early albums than their more recent offerings.
As Levellers settled into the set it was easy to see how at home they felt on stage, which you would hope from a band that have been playing together for over twenty years, and despite this longevity they obviously haven’t lost their passion for playing and still display large amount of energy whilst on stage.
Levellers are known for their political views and for their work campaigning on green issues and for charities, and this was in evidence this evening, with members of the band sporting facial hair in aid of Movember, as well as in the dedication of songs to the recent student protests. But these things were incidental to the show itself as the band were here to play, not preach, and play they did, with crowd pleasers One Way and World Freakshow getting the audience jumping mid set, and helped build the intensity to the end of the main set with the crowd getting more and more boisterous as the show went on.
It may have been sub-zero outside but it reached boiling point inside during an energetic encore consisting of What A Beautiful Day, Far From Home, Dirty Davey, and The Riverflow, before the band were joined on stage for the final song by Dunstan Bruce from Chumbawamba. Now Tubthumping may be a little cheesy, but the Levellers take on it was a fantastic finale to wonderful live show and the sing-along and dancing certainly got everyone nice and warm and ready to head out into the cold night.