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The Levellers – The Stables, Milton Keynes – 21st July 2018

Tonight’s support act was due to be Ginger Wildheart, but as he’s currently dealing with some health issues he was replaced by Gaz Brookfield. While Ginger is a great performer, this was clearly a popular substitution among Levellers fans. I’d heard plenty of good things about Gaz Brookfield from friends but this was to be my first time seeing him.

Gaz Brookfield

Right from the start he impressed. He was performing solo, playing acoustic guitar and singing, and kicked off with a song called “Solo acoustic guy” which is full of humour about being a sound man’s ideal lineup, having a separate stage at festivals (miles from the other acts) and much more. It’s a great introduction to the set and has the audience both loving the music and also laughing at the jokes. “The diabetes blues” see’s him singing about being told he’s got diabetes, and even worse will have to give up drinking cider which he follows with a line about “what’s a west country boy to do”. It really is a fantastic set and definitely won him plenty of new fans judging by the queue at the merch stand during the interval with people buying his merch right up till when the Levellers took to the stage.

The Levellers

Tonight’s show was a slightly odd one. Despite having seen the Levellers quite a few times, this was my first time seeing them do an acoustic show, so a very different performance to normal. Alongside the band they had a percussionist, a Cellist and a couple of violinists. The Cellist also provided backing vocals in some songs.
It’s certainly very different to a normal Levellers show – more laid back and intimate, but still a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Two songs – “Drug Bust McGee” and “The Shame” were written as acoustic songs and it’s hard to imagine them in an electric set as they work so well in this acoustic format, really focussing attention on the superbly written lyrics. The rest of the set is largely based around the “We the collective” acoustic album (fairly understandably), and it’s all good stuff. Some songs do work better in the acoustic format than others and the time flies past despite the weather making the venue slightly warmer than a typical sauna. It’s at the end of the set that the fans really act like it’s a Levellers gig, standing up for “One way” and the encore. Even in an all seated venue, doing an acoustic set, it’s hard for fans to resist the temptation to get up and dance. It’s great hearing the audience singing along with “One way” in particular.

An acoustic show from The Levellers isn’t as high energy as one of their normal shows, but it’s still a really enjoyable experience, and they went down extremely well tonight. Whether it’s acoustic or electric, The Levellers are a band that never disappoint.

Setlist:

Exodus
England My Home
Drug Bust McGee
Liberty Song
Chemically Free
Edge of the World
61 Minutes of Pleading
Alone in This Darkness
The Shame
Cardboard Box City
Elation
Hard Fight
Julie
Subvert
Outside Inside
Men-An-Tol
Hope Street
One way

Encore:
Fifteen Years
Just the One

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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