Bournemouth 02 Academy

In the current days of recession with money being very hard to come by, music promoters have to come up with ways of getting people out of their living rooms and into the music venues and combining bands on one tour is certainly a great way to bring people through the door. I really don’t know why they have not done it before, it just makes sense The Levellers and The Wonder Stuff just fit together so well, two great folk rock bands making for one great night.

The Wonder Stuff fronted by outspoken lead singer Miles Hunt take to the stage at around 8:00pm. Their infectious sound coupling guitars and a fiddle radiates around the venue digging up memories of the past for most of us old enough to remember. Their second song ‘On The Ropes’ is possibly one of my favourite songs of all time, it has everything I love in a song: a great powerful beginning, a catchy chorus and the ability to lift you up when you are down, you cannot help smile when listening to it.

Tonight the audience were relatively quiet apart from a few enthusiastic fans down the front. The band had to work hard to get the Bournemouth crowd on their side by playing a succession of familiar radio friendly hits such as ‘Size of a Cow’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Down Gently’. Miles Hunt is usually a very outspoken and controversial individual, tonight he is quite quiet and to my disappointment none of his fiery character is bought on stage tonight. Even when heckled about a no show at a solo gig in Bournemouth, he said ‘ahh yes long story that one , I will see you at the bar later and tell you all about it’.

The band get introduced which includes one other original member Malcolm Treece on guitar, along with Erica Nockalls on Fiddle, Mark McCarthy on bass and new drummer Robert ‘Fuzz’ Townsend from fellow Stourbridge band ‘Pop Will Eat Itself’. The leave the stage after a strong 17 song set of pure indulgence which has certainly got everyone warmed up and ready for the Levellers.

In 2011 the Levellers are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their ground breaking album ‘Levelling the Land’ which has been re-mastered re-released with bonus B-sides and live tracks. This tour’s set is based around playing the whole album with it’s related tracks along with various live favourite’s. I have seen the Levellers many times and I have never seen them play a bad show, they seem to tour constantly playing a whole host of venues excelling in each one, so tonight my expectations were high. The Boscombe venue was absolutely packed with virtually all of the £25 tickets sold, the lights went down at 9:30pm and a huge cheer went up from the excited audience.

A short film thought provoking film was projected on to a huge canvas at the back of the stage. It detailed various moments of the UK’s political history including Miners strike and Falklands War with images of Margaret Thatcher which got a hail of boos from the audience. The film then went on to show footage the recent situation in the middle east.

As the film ended the band walked on stage and launched into ‘One Way’ singing the lyrics ‘There is only one way of life and that’s your own’ which seemed to be linked to the film that had just been shown. The whole of the Academy sang the song in unison with the band making for one powerful entrance, they kept up the momentum and the dance floor turned into a sweaty mass of bodies dancing along to the vigorous anthems. After playing the 1st half of the album, the audience got a little respite while the band played a collection of slower paced B-side’s and right in the middle was a cover of fasted paced ‘The Devil went Down to Georgia’, vocalist Mark Chadwick got the audience to raise the hands in the air with the devil horns while Jon the fiddle player stood high on one on the monitor’s at the side of the stage in his top hat and striped homemade shirt pulling the bow across the strings as though his life depended on it.

The second half of the album was performed with even more highlights including ‘Riverflow’ and prominent ‘Battle of The Beanfield’ with it’s unmistakeable intro. This band have spend years perfecting their craft and know how to put on a good show and tonight they do this with relative ease, they continue this hectic pace throughout virtually the whole of the set pleasing new and old fans with yet again another show of mammoth proportions with no one leaving the venue disappointed, especially me who plans to do it all over again in Southampton on the 15th.

Set Lists

One Way
The Game
15 Years
The Boatman + Didgeridoo appendix
Far From Home
Hard Fight
Dance Before The Storm
Last Days of Winter
The Devil Went Down To Georgia
Sell Out
Another Man’s Cause
The Road
Battle of the Beanfield
Hope Street
Carry Me
Cholera Well
Beautiful Day

The Wonder Stuff
Red Berry Joy Town
On The Ropes
Here Comes Everyone
Caught In My Shadow
Mission Drive
Circle Square
Welcome To The Cheap Seats
Fill Her Up and Foot Down
The Animals and Me
Mother and I
Golden Green
Size of a Cow
Don’t Let Me Down Gently
It’s Your Money I’m After Baby
Radio Ass Kiss
Give Give Give Me More More More
Ten Trenches Deep

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