Idols to a whole range of skanky people, annoyers of the authorities and long-standing folk-rock legends Levellers played the Wulfrun last night. If you're not familiar with them, you've probably never been a student or an anarchist or been to the Hippy parts of a festival. You've probably also had a wholesome life. Wherever Levellers go, they and their fans leave a trail of drunken destruction, littered with used swearwords and anarchy/peace symbols. But don't think I'm criticising.
They are excellent live. Supporting them, they had chosen two very different bands, one a skunk band ("it's skiffle/punk, nothing to do with what we smoke or the way we smell") called Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs, who came out and played remarkable homemade instruments in true skiffle style, including a washboard and a wobble-board sounding instrument made from a branch and some elastic. They covered The Clash and Green Day amongst others, got a roadie on stage, and sang a song for "our Prime Minister, who's doing a wonderful job" *makes tosser gesture*, Gordon Is A Moron. They were hilarious, from the facial expressions and in-song dialogue to the 'Mine's a whiskey' taped onto the back of the guitar. The second band were a ska or reggae outfit, Pama International. Think The Specials with a soul singer. It went on a bit long, even though it was decent.
Levellers came on, starting with A Life Less Ordinary, and the crowd went mad. The trouble seemed to be started by a whole host of short bald men. I don't know why it was bald men in particular, but it was, and they were all shorter than me. From the very start, people were drinking huge amounts, so when drunken fighting and shoving ensued, I had been expecting it. The music was ideal for it though - Levellers chose all of their most thumping tracks to play. As well as A Life Less Ordinary, they played One Way, Carry Me, World Freak Show, Behold A Pale Rider, The Riverflow, Beautiful Day, Barrel Of The Gun, Death Loves Youth,The Cholera Well, Before The End, Eyes Wide and probably some more. They did 2 encores, playing right up to the curfew.
At one point the lights went and the room was plunged into darkness, but Levellers played on ('we're willing if you're willing'). A highlight was the merch stall man coming out in full fluorescent make-up and a blue mask, in a skirt, pratting about with his huge digeridoo (no pun intended). A sick bastard did decide to feel up all the girls on the second row, including myself. I think he got a slap once, I elbowed him, and he finally got his comeuppence when he decided to touch up a girl in the very centre, and he got caught in a lot of sweaty blokes moshing and shoving him about, without a girl in sight. I laughed.
It was a good night. I'd definitely say Levellers are one of the best live bands I've seen, though they chose their most similar songs to play. Still, brilliant playing, brilliant songwriting, wonderful lyrics - an example of a band that have stayed outside of the system, and stayed good. Go see them.