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Reviews / Levellers’ thrilling set… with added Revelry

Levellers frontman Mark Chadwick in action at Clickimin last night. Photo: Dale Smith

CLICKIMIN played host to a Levellers-Revellers double bill of high-octane folk rock last night. Craig Birnie, a former Revellers band member himself, went along to review the show for Shetland News and had a whale of a time…

Wedndesday night saw the return of English folk rock favourites The Levellers to the isles for the first time since their hugely successful headline set at the 2011 Tall Ships at Holmsgarth.

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This time they were playing at Clickimin and the venue was easily more than three quarters full, once again showing the popularity of the band in Shetland.

The Levellers are currently on a gruelling tour of the UK and beyond promoting their upcoming ‘Greatest Hits’ album. Following a set at Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree they thankfully avoided any pitfalls with fog and made it a little further north to delight their Shetland fan base.

First up, though, was Shetland’s very own top exporter of high octane folk-rock, The Revellers. A band themselves formed from a shared love of The Levellers, this was a pretty symbolic “coming full circle gig” for them – sharing the same stage as the band who were a massive influence in bringing them together.

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Fiddler Jonathan Sevink's "blazing sound of distorted fiddle" delighted the crowd. Photo: Dale Smith

The abundance of Revellers t-shirts in the crowd showed their ever increasing popularity and they played a fine set of original material with their usual aplomb despite an unexplained delay in the venue doors being open, and also being dogged with some unfortunate sound issues throughout.

Fan favourites such as ‘Islander Man’, ‘Glass is Never Empty’ and ‘Miracle in the Andes’ had the crowd suitably warmed up and we were event treated to a new song which sounded excellent and whets the appetite for a possible new album in the near future.

After a small interlude the venue suddenly filled with a blast of trippy bagpipe music heralding the arrival of the headliners. Opener ‘The Game’ immediately had the audience jumping up and down in unison and this was to continue throughout as we were treated to a set filled with classics including ‘Sell Out’, ‘Beautiful Day’, ‘One Way of Life’ and ‘Riverflow’.

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Watching The Levellers tearing through their set, it’s not hard to figure out their enduring appeal a quarter of a century into their career. Their energy, punk ethos and politically-charged passion doesn’t seem to have dulled over the years, making them a thrilling live act.

Frontman Mark Chadwick throws his guitar around with gleeful passion and he has a talent for bringing a crowd together. Bass player Jeremy Cunningham is a whirling dervish of hair and mischief and narrates the new Levellers career documentary ‘A Curious Life’, which debuted this summer.

Another who owns the stage is fiddler Jonathan Sevink: his blazing sound of distorted fiddle playing is a delight and he prowls the stage with a massive, infectious grin.

The Revellers got to share the stage with the band whose music brought them together in the first place. Photo: Dale Smith

Following a raucous ‘Liberty Song’ and, the earlier sound problems long forgotten, Chadwick jokes with the crowd that even though it’s a week night there’s no shame in going a little wild and having a hangover at work the next day – and I’m more than sure that would have been the case for quite a few!

The band depart to a wave of applause, but the thumping of the floor begins as the crowd demands an encore and The Levellers don’t disappoint as they return with ‘Another Man’s Cause’ and then a truly fantastic version of ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia’, where Chadwick directs the crowd in synchronised devil-hand gestures.

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Then they are gone and the house lights blaze on, signalling the end of a breathless evening which has left the audience extremely happy and more than a little dishevelled. On this form I’m sure the headliners will be levelling the land for some time to come, and we can only hope they will one day return north to entertain us again.

Craig Birnie

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