Nick at Coventry Warwick Arts Centre (opening for the Levellers),
Saturday 8 March 2003 - by Phil Widdows

Despite the best efforts of the management at Warwick Arts to make it one of the least atmospheric venues possible (including turning the whole complex to no smoking), the Levellers' audience certainly make up for that in terms of enthusiasm and sheer 'lets get out there and have a blinding time'. The feel good factor was there from the start. A fourpiece support band, typically noisy and a bit unprofessional, but at least their numbers were the size of pop hits only, so we didn't have to suffer them too long. I left their set one number from the end to get a drink, to re-enter to what sounded like a full-on five piece band! Not quite, there was only one guy on stage... Nick Harper, astonishing everyone by keeping the music going whilst he changed broken string in mid song. I have no idea what he sang, but there was humour in his chats with the audience, in the lyrics, he was simultaneously, bass player, percussionist, amazing guitarist and singer...WOW.

While the techies did their bit resetting the stage everyone was wondering what the Levs would kick off with (at least those who hadn't read their set list on various emails!). They blasted off with Four Winds, front track of new album, with Pretty Target close behind and the single Come On. The new material was enthusiatically received but then the place went bananas as they went full-on into typical Levs set list leading off with 100 Years of Solitude, One Way, Beautiful Day, Dirty Davey, The Game, Riverflow, Sell Out, Liberty Song and a stream of others (not necessarily in that order cos by this time the wine had had an effect and things were getting to that blurred stage). Interestingly only one number I can recall from Hello Pig, their least popular album.

The band was as tight as ever, the fiddle flew, as did the dredlocks! The audience as vocal as ever, with a distinct lack of crowd surfing and water buckets! Two encores of four more songs finished off a tremendous evening, proving that this band really know how to put on a show, the sound was excellent, the lighting really some of the best I have seen (major rock tours aside) (I was told later that the lighting was all on manual operation, not programmed, so the engineer worked had to be totally on the ball all the time, he worked hard and well).

The Levs may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for sheer entertainment, so long as you are disposed to dancing and having a good time is why I enjoy an evening with them.

Created 1st July 2003
© PW/PLC 2003