Great live recording from the British folk-punk band
Reaching the age of 21 is a truly momentous occasion and what better way to celebrate than to record a live album at the glorious Royal Albert Hall! With over two decades of history to their name, The Levellers continue to widely tour Europe, including highlights such as this London show recording.
The album eases into motion with ‘No Chance,’ the highlight of which is definitely the glorious violin melody. It is a beautiful acoustic performance and an excellent opener. To provide an extra dimension to the folk-punk songs on offer, a string quartet and grand piano have been included for this special event. The strings make a delightful addition to Jon Sevink’s fiddle playing in the following song, ‘Julie.’
A fuller band sound emerges with ‘Together All The Way,’ with the bass and drums combining well to offer rhythmic support. The evolution to the electric sound continues with ‘Before the End.’ Although the opening drumming could easily be mistaken for the famous KISS hit, ‘Rock and Roll All Nite,’ the punk elements of The Levellers’ music starts to surface, whilst still retaining an individual identity through the application of the solo fiddle and grand piano.
The piano and string quartet combine effectively for the opening of ‘Chemically Free’. The rest of the ensemble soon joins with the climatic rise that unfortunately fails to satisfactorily peak. The hauntingly titled ‘Death Loves Youth’ then firmly breaks into life; ironic considering the concept of the song. The lyrics are emotive, with most listeners being able to relate to the experience of losing someone far too young. The song finishes with a hectic folk-punk thrashing, which is likely to provide quite an appropriate release of anger for some.
‘Exodus’ is an adequate performance, but its slightly repetitive nature becomes tiresome. Perhaps it is because the opening chords are reminiscent of the over-played Deep Purple song, ‘Smoke on the Water.’ However, the eighth track, ‘Hope Street,’ is a highlight of the album, largely to due to the band’s proficiency in performing this varying song. Who said that violins had to be boring classical instruments?
Speaking of instruments and stereotypes, The Levellers again dispel another with their use of the didgeridoo for the beginning of ‘This Garden.’ Whilst the pairing of male and female vocals is not always pinpoint perfect, this is a wonderful song with a stylish bass line and funky guitar playing. Topping this off is the chorus, which is an aural treat.
Finally is ‘Men-An-Tol;’ another song that grows into a firm, driving force. It must be noted that the vocal harmonies, which were generally absolutely fantastic up until this point, lose their accuracy with this song. Overall, however, the Royal Albert Hall performance was strong, tidy and well-balanced.
The contrast between the acoustic and electric sections of the set is effective; portraying the diversity of the band’s music. Whilst the 1990’s was arguably the band’s most successful period, to see that The Levellers are still gracing the 21st Century music scene is very pleasing. ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall’ is a decent recording and should keep the fans happy until The Levellers release their next studio album.