Gig Review
The Levellers
Divokej Bill, Frank Turner
Southampton, Guildhall
14th December 2008

Levellers                 Divokej Bill          Frank Turner
Back at the Guildhall in Southampton for quite a treat, nearly twenty years after the Levellers started out. Unfortunately, going on previous experience, the Guildhall isn't the best for sound quality, but I was excited regardless.

Walking into the main room as Frank Turner was on stage, the room was packed from wall to wall with die hard fans, and generally an older bunch. Turner, on stage, was playing "Substitute," one of a handful to come off of the latest album Love Ire & Song, including the title track, and "God Save The Queen," commenting on the proceeds much better going to Breast Cancer Research than his beer fund. Appearing without his band, his voice was almost lost within the vast hall, and he tried to play a stomp-box through "Worse Things Happen At Sea," among others. A handful of fists were waving in the air during fan-favourites such as "The Real Damage" and his closing number "The Ballad of Me and My Friends," but the atmosphere was weak at best and nothing compared to his headlining shows. Never the less, Turner played well and was a nice start to the evening. An evening which, was about to get rather surreal.

Divokej Bill were next to come on stage, and in comparison to Turner's solo appearance, they filled the stage with eight band members. Being from the Czech Republic, their strong accents were uncomprehendable in such a room as the Guildhall, and the lyrics themselves were sung in Czech. However, despite the language barrier and up to five vocalists singing at once, everyone was enjoying themselves. The music was really good fun, and well-written; the songs were catchy and spirits were high. Fairly similar in terms of the Levellers sound with less of the punk feel, and a bit more of the "lads" feel. Very good indeed!

Finally, Levellers arrived to see the night out.

"Sunday hey? Well punk rock can still happen on Sundays."

From the opening track to the final bow, the tempo was high and I can safely say everybody would have had a little jig at some point. Obvious classics like "Beautiful Day" were omitted from the set list, disappointing yet understandable; however certain songs did spark up great cheers from the audience. The set featured around twenty songs, including a smattering from the latest album. Some of my personal favourites, "Behold A Pale Rider" and "Cholera Well" were performed, as well as the single "Life Less Ordinary." Having missed a high percentage of the Leveller's career, much of the set was unclear and sounded very similar. But the die-hard fans knew every word and were loving every minute; including an older gentleman in the seating area who was going just about as crazy as the restrictions of the seat would allow, while his wife sat contently at his side.

A digeridoo player joined the band on stage, with fluorescent pink hair, facepaint, and feather boa. I'm going to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what that's all about. Baffling.

Haunting strings backed the anti-Bush cries, which was all set against chain-link-print backdrop, as the Levellers maintain their punk morals.

Some might argue the Levellers are past it, and I'd disagree. Yes, granted, they're not the young men they used to be. But just because they can't run around stage like maniacs, or be so visibly passionate, certainly doesn't mean they don't play extremely well, and continue to write great songs. They're not dead yet.

Frank Turner- 4/5
Divokej Bill - 4/5
Levellers - 4/5

Review By Thom

 The Levellers

Mark Chadwick
Jeremy Cunningham
Charlie Heather
Simon Friend
Jonathan Sevink
Matt Savage

 Frank Turner

Frank Turner (Guitar, Vocals)

 Band Related Links
Levellers Myspace
Frank Turner Official Website
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?