Portsmouth Guildhall

The Levellers

At this very venue in October 1990 I saw the Levellers for the first time supporting the mighty New Model Army. This gig began a firm appreciation of a band that has gone on to achieve so much. I was amongst those fortunate people to see them perform their now legendary set at Glastonbury in 1993. I have been to “Drunk in Public” shows, along with intimate acoustic shows. The Levellers have a versatility and longevity that very few bands ever manage to achieve.

Tonight the band are in town to celebrate the release of their two disc “Greatest Hits” singles collection a new release spanning over 25 years. The stage is set and the hall is packed and as usual with all Levellers shows we have two very different handpicked support bands to entertain us before the main attraction arrives.

The first of these is Laura Kidd from Bristol who goes under the name of “She Makes War”. Laura’s set is a complete breath of fresh air with a host of varied styles on offer. To start with she performs some delightful songs with the help of a grungy electric guitar, then progresses to a ukulele with a loop pedal helping with layered vocal harmonies. The set includes great lyrical content on songs like “Drown Me Out”, “The Best” along with a stunning acapella performance of a song called “Delete”. Laura promised that if she was welcome she would be back in Portsmouth in 2015, by this quality performance fans will welcome her return with open arms.

She Makes War
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The next band need no introduction for people like me of a certain age. The band sprung up in the suburbs of Coventry in 1979. They were famously part of the massive Two Tone revolution which included bands like The Specials, Madness, and The Beat. Fast forward to 2014 and they can still be found putting on top quality shows all over the UK. The eight piece band including original front lady Pauline Black are given a very warm welcome from the excited Portsmouth crowd and within moments many are up dancing to the infectious sound of Ska. The set includes many familiar songs such as “Missing Words”, “On My Radio”, and the skatastic “Too Much Pressure” made famous by the Dance Craze album. The music was skilfully recreated with keyboards, a two piece brass section along with the unique vocals of Arthur “Gaps” Hendrickson and Pauline who excelled beyond expectation. The band leave the stage after a very energetic 40 minute set giving us older people a brief rest before the Levellers.

The Selecter
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The Levellers make a grand entrance with one of their most popular songs “What a Beautiful Day” and as the song kicks in confetti cannons fire over the audience creating a great effect over the bouncing crowd. The band continue and play like each song is an encore, of course with this being a greatest hits tour the set is made up completely of songs that everyone knows. As I look around the audience is very diverse bunch made up of families with children and lifelong friends who have followed the band since the start. It is clear that the band’s appeal is wide which could be the secret of their longevity.

The Levellers
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There are couple of nice surprises when Pauline Black joins the band for a great version “Together All The Way” and Laura of “She Makes War” adds her delightful vocals to “This Garden”. The band despite the years on the road still have masses of energy and keep up the fast paced momentum right to the end. A delighted audience trudge out of the Guildhall with confetti in their hair, songs in their head and the Levellers in their hearts.

Set Lists
What a Beautiful Day
Fifteen Years
World Freakshow
Far From Home
Together All The Way (With Pauline Black)
Dog Train
Sell Out
Boatman Jig
This Garden (With Laura of She Makes War)
One Way
Too Real
Hope Street
Truth Is
Carry Me
Come On
The Cholera Well
Liberty Song

Just the One
The Devil Went Down to Georgia
The Riverflow

The Selecter
The Avengers
Three Minute Hero
Time Hard (Everyday)
They Make Me Mad
London’s Burning
Fuck Art Let’s Dance
Train to Skaville
James Bond
Missing Words
On My Radio
Too Much Pressure / Pressure Drop



Words & Videos By Dave Chinery (Chinners)
Pictures and nippy driving By Jon Musselwhite

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