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08 July 2005: Levellers - National Forest Folk Festival, Leicestershire, England, UK
Yes, "Your mind can go away"…
But I’ll get back to that later.
So that map said left onto the B5030, off the A511, but was it sign posted? No. Did it say how far along The A511? No. Several miles further and I decided it was about time to turn left even though I still hadn’t seen the right road and I asked a chap on a bike. Directions were acquired and off I went again. Down to the end and turn right, check. And then a little further and turn right. But I’d been going for miles and there were no signs and no sign of the venue, so I slowed down past a pub, and looked round hopefully.
And there, sat outside, enjoying their drinks, were Jon and Mark.
So then I knew I was on the right track and 150 yards further down the road was the car park.
The venue was a fairly large amphitheatre with a fixed, tent like cover over the top of it. You could also sit outside on the grass banks and I settled down to chill out and wait for the Levellers.
This was their first gig since their acclaimed performance on the Jazz stage at the Glastonbury Festival and they were rocking.
The band appeared on stage and appealed for everyone to move forward (and therefore unavoidably crush the line of security people across the front of the stage) as, as Mark put it, "We’re not used to gaps at the front".
We got "The Game", "England My Home" and "Make U Happy", near the start. Simon took over the vocal duties for "For Us All" and was left on his own on stage for "When Love Runs Out Of Time" (which seemed to have an extra bit at the end).
"Last Man Alive" was greeted like an old friend and the crowd stepped up a gear for "Sell Out" and "Together All The Way".
There were shouts somewhere around this time for "Just The One", but Mark replied that he’d given up drinking so that was a definite no-no (I don’t believe him, but he alluded to this at Leicester with Rev Hammer as well).
Instead Boaksey appeared with his didgeridoo, in full make up and we were launched into "3 Friends" (which surprised me, because I was expecting "This Garden" for some reason). "3 Friends" was quickly followed by "One Way" and as always the crowd responded again, with the line of security people in front of the stage taking a severe battering from the mosh pit.
"Liberty" was played somewhere in the middle of all this, with Jeremy bouncing up and down with his bass, head back in exultation, as if the world depended on it.
After "Burford Stomp" Mark announced that they’d been going for a speed record, and a think they just about made it, though how they ever play that fast I will never know.
And then, "Riverflow". Full on speed rush, with the entire crowd singing along.
I can’t remember the order of the tracks in the encores, as I was too busy dancing, but there were definitely at least two encores, and they definitely played "What A Beautiful Day" ("This one’s for the people in Moira, who’ll know this one"), "Battle Of The Beanfield", and "What You Know", and there may have been more.
And yes, "Your mind can go away".
Simon’s in virtual hysterics, Jons struggling not to laugh and I couldn’t see the rest of them at this point. Except Mark, who having forgotten the words to "What You Know" at the "Your mind can go away" bit and then filled for a bit and then sung "That’s it, ‘Yes your mind can go away’" appeared not to know whether to laugh or cry, at one point holding his head in mock despair, and then laughing his head off. Before coming back to the mike for the next verse with a postcard with the words written down on.
People often ask me why I go to see the Levellers so much. All the shows must be the same after a while.
But, there are so many reasons. They are the best live band in the country. They make records that I love. They have songs that can move you to tears. And sometimes they make you laugh, hysterically. To put it simply, they make me happy.
Then they were gone, Jeremy waving at us as he went with a towel on his head.
They played nothing off "Zeitgeist", nothing off "Mouth to Mouth" (I think, except "What A Beautiful Day"), nothing off "Green Blade Rising" and nothing off "Hello Pig" and we still got two hours of excellent, full on rocking/rolling/punking/folking music, and we all went away very, very happy. Show me a band that can give you a roaring show for two hours and barely touch four of their records and you'll be pointing at the Levellers.
And I’ve got my December tickets already!
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