It seems to be an increasingly common thing these days for gigs to be far more than they used to be and the Levellers on a windy and wet Saturday evening in Bexhill was a case in point.
Not only were we treated to a full acoustic live set, but we also got to watch an 80 minute documentary film about the band as well. Throw in a short Q & A session too and nobody could complain about not getting full value for money. But with a band such as the Levellers, I don’t think that was ever really in doubt.
The values, beliefs and ideals that have kept the band, and their fans, together for very nearly 30 years still hold as true today as they ever did. Something that was very apparent throughout the evening.
The appropriately named documentary, “A Curious Life”, started off the evenings entertainment and entertainment it was most certainly was.
Trawling through the bands self acknowledged “25 years of subsidised dysfunctionality”, this film was genuinely laugh out loud funny at times, especially when bass player Jeremy Cunningham was on screen. Truthful and honest throughout and not shying away from some of the less savoury elements of the bands career, including Jeremy’s own “pharmaceutical pecadillos”, the documentary prompted spontaneous bursts of applause from sections of the audience and occasional shouts of encouragement too.
The Levellers are not known for conforming and neither are their fans, so I did wonder how a sit down crowd would react when the band started playing live, albeit acoustically.
At first all was ‘normal’. A few fans started to dance in the aisles, but were discouraged by venue staff and even the band themselves at first. But the tension gradually built during the set and then suddenly, towards the end, the dam burst and very shortly nearly the whole audience was on its feet, with many dancing in front of the stage.
As so often happens in these situations, this burst of energy from the crowd inspired the band to up the intensity of their own performance by several notches, to the benefit of all in the room.
As the Levellers sing in one of their most famous songs, “There’s only one way of life and that’s your own”. That’s a sentiment the band have certainly lived by themselves and I think they’ve inspired many in that audience to do the same as well over those nearly thirty years. I suspect that there are a few more to come as well, let’s hope so.