The Saturday before last I got a call from a pal that said he had a spare ticket for The Levellers that evening and did I want it at the reduced rate of £20, instead of the extortionate £30 the UEA seems to charge for everything these days- so I jumped at the chance. Just the fact I didn’t have to go online weeks in advance, fill in my life story, print my own ticket and kill any spontaneity left in our lives appealed to my sense of nostalgia. I’ve seen them about five times over the years and never seen a bad performance.
The venue had a 10pm curfew for some reason, so I arrived in time to catch the support acts, however I only caught the last couple of songs by Nick Parker- the most memorable being ‘Terry and June’ a title that is an instant attention grabber to anyone of a certain age. It’s a cheerful upbeat song that when you’ve heard as many songs as I have you can’t help but think is a bit of a reworking of The Damned’s Love Song.
Nick Park = “I’ll be the soldier if you’ll be the egg.”
The Damned = “I’ll be the ticket if you’re the collector.”
I did enjoy what I caught and would have liked to have seen him in a more intimate environment.
Next up was Sean McGowan, who I have to say was remarkably well promoted, pulling out all the stops to let all know he is returning to Norwich in February 2019. Not only with a poster at the entrance to be viewed by all in the queue, as well as people inside handing out post card flyers which, like the poster, had the weirdest unflattering picture. When he came on to the stage I was immediately struck by how unlike George Michael would’ve looked had George done a bout with Mike Tyson.
Musically, it was powerful edgy and the man had something to say. Sadly due to the gathering audience chatting and a sound engineer that seemed to insist on sacrificing clarity for volume. Even when Sean put on an acoustic and tried to play a solo tribute to a friend, there was a lack of interest from the crowd, making it difficult to hear.
His band returned to he stage and once again blasted the ignorant non-listeners. As much as I hate having to pigeon hole artists but sadly, it is the easiest way to explain what they sound like, Sean McGowan is like Ben Drew of Plan B backed by The Jam during their funkier ‘Precious’ phase but without the brass. Before they played their final song, Sean made a moving speech thanking his band and those giving him the chance to perform on the bill with The Levellers, and it didn’t come across as cheesy show biz just a genuinely nice, well meaning man doing his best by people.
By the time The Levellers came on the place was packed. I’m pretty sure the venue had over subscribed and about 15 minutes in a woman behind me completely freaked out and was clearly having a panic attack which was of course all my fault.
I took up a space in the middle just in front of the mixing desk with the assumption that it would be where the sound would be best. Oh how wrong I was and again the volume was making everything distort and you couldn’t really make out a word of what Mark or Simon was singing about.
Maybe they are going to release an experimental, distorted live album called ‘A Weapon Called The Volume’? In the bands defence they put on a really good show performing well, the lights and stage set / back drop was fantastic and Didgeridoo Steve was an welcome addition I’d not seen before. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for what they have done and what they do
but in the future, other than catching them at a festival, it will probably the last time I see them.
I’m not a die hard fan of the Levellers, and not the sort of anorak to write down what songs they played, and as I’m writing this a week after the event I can’t really remember what they opened or even closed with I just know the set included, ‘One way of life,’ ‘Beautiful day’, and 2 of my favourites- ‘Julie’ and ‘15 years’ so I went home a happy man!