The Levellers @ Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall – 1st May 2009


I was not named on the guest-list for tonight’s gig, but after a little explanation about BrumLive a wristband was issued. As I got into the Wulfrun already on stage was a trio, not dissimilar to The Crow Man from Worzel Gummidge. They were whipping the crowd up with a sing-a-long sea-shanty song, but as soon as this was done they left the stage. This was Hobo Jones & The Junkyard Dogs, who play what they refer to as “skiffle punk”. They were selling CD’s, which I didn’t pick-up, and now regret this as trying to get hold of one from their website it like collecting fog in a box. I’d like to hear more and they certainly went down a storm with the crowd.


This is more than can be said for Pama International, who play a mix of Ska and Reggae. Instantly recognisable on drums is Fuzz Townsend (from Pop Will Eat Itself) and I have to admit they are brilliant, but they don’t really get much reaction from the crowd. Perhaps I’m trying to make up for missing The Specials recent gigs, or perhaps Levellers punters don’t get the ska reggae mix. A tight set and from looking at their website they’ve been around a few years and have a good back catalogue. Some tracks can be downloaded for free at their website.


The only criticism is the lights, which were a set of approximately 10 pale blue spots that stayed on throughout their set. They didn’t change colour, flash or do anything, and this it would seem is because no-one was on the lighting desk during their set.

At 21.35 the already dim house lights go down and The Levellers take to the stage. The lighting is superb and such a contrast to that endured by the support act. In fact I’d go as far as saying this is the best lighting set-up I’ve seen at the Wulfrun, and it’s so large some of the effects struggle to get past the wings of the stage. It may be that this was too much of a power surge as at the end of the opening song, ‘Life Less Ordinary’ the stage descends into darkness, and it appears a fuse has blown. This would freak out many artists, some would leave the stage, others would stand there and wait for it to be fixed. Not Levellers, they storm straight into ‘Beanfield’ and play a blinder, the lights, albeit reduced in effects, returning for the last few seconds of the track. “We look better with the lights off”.


The set is drawn from the long career, going back to 1988 and also including tracks from their new album ‘Letters from the Underground’, for which this tour is to promote. This is the last night of the UK dates.
Levellers have an ardent following, and without wishing to appear judgemental, you can spot a fan before you see their t-shirt. The men, and the crowd is mainly male, either have dreadlocks or for those with male pattern baldness a completely shaved head. All have beer in their hands, in two pint plastic tubs which are shoved into the air during any sing-a-long chorus. As the glass gets empty it is thrust into the air higher and faster and this results in more beer showering for those unfortunate to be standing close by. Even worse are those who decide to throw the final dregs of ale and hurl the glass like a missile towards the stage. This is a common practice at outdoor festivals but inside at a small venue like the Wulfrun?


More annoying than this are those who talk throughout a gig. With the current economy people have to be selective about who they see, gigs are not cheap, and with parking and a beer a hole can be knocked in £30 (£60 if at the NEC) and so when you’ve spent your hard-earned cash to see a gig why do some folk stand and talk throughout? As the music gets louder their conversation becomes a shouting match. It’s a pity those with beer to throw and waste didn’t throw it over the two stood next to me shouting for nearly an hour.

I first saw Levellers in 1990 supporting New Model Army at the Civic next door, and in the years since then they’ve not changed musically at all, but if something isn’t broken don’t fix it. The fiddle is an integral part and actually adds so much to their songs.

For ‘One Way’ a didgeridoo appears for the intro, and this song is dedicated to the recent success of Wolves gaining promotion to the Premier League. The crowd cheers and boos in equal measure. I’m not sure if ‘One Way’ refers to going up the table, or a one-way ticket back to the Championship. Answers on a postcard.

All in all Levellers offer good value for money, and it’d be hard not to enjoy one of their gigs.


Life Less Ordinary
Burn America
15 Years
Beautiful Day
Pale Rider
Eyes Wide
One Way
Before The End
Dance Before The Storm
Death Loves Youth
Carry Me
Barrel Of The Gun
Dirty Davey
Cholera Well
World Freak Show
Come On

Review – Glenn Raybone

Photos – Shaz Rafferty

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