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03 March 2003: Levellers - De Montfort Hall, Leicester, England, UK
The long road to Leicester winds its way in front of me on a dark Monday night and the journey to see the Levellers begins. De Montfort Hall, from memory a dark dingy theatre with seats upstairs and standing in the "auditorium", turns out to be a brightly lit and obviously recently renovated venue, with very polite door people and a lovely foyer where you could buy sweets or get yourself a bag of Walkers!
These you were "allowed" to eat in the "auditorium", but what you weren't allowed to do was drink, smoke, or, and this is my assumption, enjoy yourself. The main result of this was the complete lack of atmosphere in the "auditorium" and the support act, Nick Harper, was struggling to get the few people who had bothered to venture out of the two bars on either side of the venue, to look mildly interested. He failed, and just gave the impression of trying very hard for little reward, which was a shame.
After a short break, where I wandered round the venue, being eyed suspiciously by the security people, the warm up music for the main attraction began and the punters flocked from the side bars.
To large cheers, the Levellers took to the stage and immediately launched into a superb rendition of "Come On" with their usual enthusiasm and enjoyment. This was followed by "100 Years of Solitude", and the crowd started to bounce and enjoy themselves.
The band were obviously enjoying themselves as well, Jon grinning as he fiddled his way around the stage, Mark spinning round with his guitar and bouncing off Simon in center stage and Jeremy, jumping up and down, torturing his bass and flailing his dreadlocks at Matt the keyboardist, on the right of the stage.
With classic renditions of "Another Man's Cause", "This Garden", "61 Minutes of Pleading", "Julie", the ever crowd pleasing "One Way", "Liberty Song", "Carry Me", "Four winds" (off the new CD "Green Blade Rising"), "Aspects Of Spirit" (dedicated to everyone's regular, local pub) and the always superb "The Riverflow", this was a night to remember.
The highlight for me had to be when they came back on and did "Just the One", which was followed by Mark saying, "this next ones for all you old and young punks out there", walking away from the mike and then returning to say, as if as an afterthought, "and Joe, who played piano on the previous track", before Jon's violin started up for the intro to "English Civil War", which rocked! A fitting tribute to the late, great Joe Strummer.
They left us for the evening with "Beautiful Day" and then "Wake the World", Mark singing his heart out, Jon fiddling and Jeremy and Matt accompanying on bass and Keyboards, while Charlie (initially) and then Simon, strummed along gently on acoustic guitar. A lovely way to end and made more poignant in these troubled times by Mark's meaningful gesture while singing the line "Left in a state of selfish babylon"...
We wanted more, but it was late and time for the long drive home. What a beautiful night!
I'd just like to add my thanks to the venue for the ticket service. This was honestly the best service I have received for ordering tickets. You ring them up or email them and leave a message saying you want to order some tickets and soon after they ring you (!) and take the details and send you the tickets. Brilliant!
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