Had fun dressing up for this one. I wore a long, loose skirt and a loose, ethnic-y top with no layers underneath, and my hair loose, because bouncing is a whole lot more fun with hair that flies everywhere, not to mention that no hairstyle would hold up to that much bouncing. ploni_bat_ploni wore lots of funky colours, including an orange tunic. And of course we were late through chatting too much while being girlie, and I fussed about that quite unnecessarily.
Nalen is somewhat of a strange venue. It's a very, very, very neoclassical building, one which seemed slightly embarrassed by hosting a rock concert, of all things. OTOH, it was extremely well organized; the flow of people worked perfectly, and the cloakroom, bar and merch stall were models of efficiency. Plus, water fountains are the best possible idea at such a concert.
We missed most of the support band, The Headlines. They weren't bad, a bit on the shouty side but bouncable enough. The weird thing was the combination of this fairly punk-y band, with the atmosphere of a cocktail party in the concert hall. The attendees were standing around, drinking wine and chatting, clapping politely between songs and generally failing to behave like a rock concert audience at all!
Then the real Levellers showed up. I was a bit concerned that I wouldn't know the set because I haven't really been following the Levellers since Zeitgeist (1995). I needn't have worried; they opened with the classic One hundred years of solitude and it was all bouncy joy from there on. There were a few songs that were new to me but they're all great. The cocktail party crowd were not the easiest of audiences, but the Levellers are old pros and had no trouble getting people dancing; by the end of the first song the atmosphere was everything you'd expect from a Levellers concert.
I called it primal, but in some ways it's very much the product of a highly complex society. The musical instruments, the sound technology, the marketing and economics of such a tour, and of course the political scene that the Levellers are angry about. It's a bit depressing to hear a lyric like
The year is 1991and realize that all the political problems Sell out was responding to back then have got worse in the intervening time. It made ploni_bat_ploni all nostalgic for her lefty countercultural past though! She may look little and delicate, but I can tell you the girl has sharp elbows; we ended up right under the stage, something I would never dared on my own. I think I'm actually in this picture, though I'm at the opposite side from the camera and you can only see a bit of what might be my face.
The set included Hope Street which I would be tempted to vote for as the best thing the Levellers have ever done. And Men-an-Tol which is pretty much a permanent fixture. I had almost forgotten the existence of Carry me but as soon as I heard the opening chords I was taken right back to the time when doseybat was first coaxing me away from mainstream commercial music. You have my undying gratitude, Bat, and I'm also very pleased that particular song was included in the concert. I think the most obvious sign that I'm getting too old for this sort of thing was that the more emotionally deep songs made me sentimental; I found myself crying over Another man's cause. They did One way of life as an encore, which is beautifully anthemic, and then finished with a weird, folky and very Levellers-ish thing about a fiddler and the Devil.
All in all, a brilliant night, and thanks so much to ploni_bat_ploni for agreeing to come along to a concert of a group she didn't previously know.