The Levellers + Alabama 3 + 3 Daft Monkeys @ Wolverhampton Civic Hall

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Opening this, the second show of The Levellers twentieth anniversary tour, were Cornish three piece 3 Daft Monkeys. Hailing from the southern region of England, this female fronted folk band owned the crowd tonight with their Celtic rhythms, gypsy beats and folk/punk reggae vocals coming from both Tim Ashton and Athene Roberts. Funky bass lines made the crowd groove as Jamie Waters opened various solos overlapped with Athene’s fiddle and Tim’s foot drum. I really didn’t know what to expect when I saw them enter the stage, but after the third song I’d have to say a combination of Gogol Bordello and The Pogues. With crowd pleasers such as Faces, Social Vertigo and new song Paranoid Big Brother, 3 Daft Monkeys were a definite pleasure to watch.

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Next on stage where Alabama3, acoustic and unplugged. Deceptively named, this Country and Western band hail from Brighton. All but Harpo Strangelove are dressed in white suites and cowboy hats tonight, all sat center stage on bar stalls.
Ok, so they do Country and Western songs very well for a bunch of Brits, some with a modern electronic twist. Also one of their songs (Woke up this Morning) was used in The Sopranos, and they have a healthy back catalogue, but alas I wasn’t impressed with most of their show. Although putting a lot of effort into it, they just couldn’t get the crowd moving. Failing to get a sing-along in for Lockdown, they retreated to an obvious influence and decided to mention the late Johnny Cash. That got the crowds attention with a predictable cheer while guitarist Rock Freebase laughed with vocalist Devlin Love. After that slight moment of entertainment the mood dropped again, closing the show on the seventh song, lead man Larry Love picked up a second microphone and used both for the chorus, succeeding this time to get crowd participation, he decided to leap head first into the middle of the sea of people with security standing on tiptoes lifting the microphone lead out of reach of the front row. Chanting and screaming Larry went into a full blown cover of the infamous Ring of Fire before clambering back on stage to finish the show.

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It was a short break after Alabama3 with only fifteen minutes to spare before The Levellers came on stage and blast right into England my Home. Standing at the side of the stage I see the entire crowd jumping, not just the front few rows, but all the way to the back of the room. One lone man stood on the balcony dancing as if his life depended on it, and when the song came to a close, the Civic was alive with cheers, clapping and screams as I glance over to see lead vocalist and guitarist Mark Chadwick holding the biggest grin imaginable. Tonight was defiantly made for The Levellers.

The stage is lit by layered LED screens playing psychedelic colours making up cartoons to match the music, and with six of the UKs most original and respected musicians in recent years standing there, it was set to be a night to remember.

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Once the opening lyrics for Beautiful Day came in, I turn to see what looks like an army forming in the crowd. People clambering onto shoulders and at least five groups of people stood towering over the crowd hand in hand singing along with smiles all round.
The next big song of the night was Carry Me, off The Levellers 1990 debut album A Weapon Called the Word. This received a roaring welcome.

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The Levellers have always been a band to put a lot of effort into their shows, and on their twentieth anniversary, they do this spectacularly by turning all the lights out while regular guest Stephen Broakes, covered in UV paint enters the stage with a six-foot didgeridoo.

Followed by not one, but two encores, ending the show with the fast paced What you Know, I walk away with yet another band who’s back catalogue I need to update.
For a band who’ve been writing, recording and touring for twenty years, The Levellers truly leveled Wolverhampton tonight.

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Review – Jude Butler
Photos – Lee Allen

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1 thought on “The Levellers + Alabama 3 + 3 Daft Monkeys @ Wolverhampton Civic Hall

  1. Lost the little respect i ever had for The Levellers ‘anarchist’ stance when they ended up playing the Carling Academy (£3:00 a pint!) last year for about 20 quid a pop. They’ve ended up like the dreadlocked trustafarian cunts who i’ve now come to despise, (CRASS will be turning in their graves !!).
    Midge

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