The Levellers - Hop Farm 2012 review
John Bownas - 03 July 2012
Mark Chadwick must have been waiting his whole career to announce that 'coming up next will be Kool and
In all their years of incessant touring this is perhaps one of the more odd bill-pairings that the band will have been slotted into.
However, despite playing second fiddle to the jazz-funksters, Levellers deliver a life-affirming set that includes a smattering of songs from their latest studio album, 'Static on the Airwaves'.
And on first listen this is exciting stuff - with the potential for the band to have made a welcome return to their 'Levelling the Land' glory days.
And so, sandwiched between festival staples such as 'Carry Me', 'Come On', 'One Way of Life' and 'Dirty Davy' we find new, fresh and yet somehow familiar songs like 'The Recruiting Sargeant.'
Famiar no doubt because it is a powerful reworking of a traditional rebel song - taking Levellers off into Pogues territory, but a welcome journey that is in this case.
Of course this is a festival - and it's not the band's own Beautiful Days - so with a generic crowd to please it's not surprising that more of the new material isn't given an outing.
But having had the chance to listen to 'Static' a few times now it is almost certain that some of the songs from it will become new best friends with many of the band's crowd-pleasing old favourites.
That's not to say that Levellers haven't turned out any great tracks since the heydays of their first few long players. 'Cholera Well' is a great example of a more recent song that now features highly in most of the band's live sets. In fact it is in pole position today as the closing number.
But more recent albums have been somewhat bogged down in stodgy tracks that have not had the lyrical bite to them that was a big part of the bands success in their early days.
'Static' however, isn't a record that will suffer fools lightly.
It's got a point to make, and it's being released at a time when the politics of the band are likely to have as much relevance as they did 'back in the day'.
The stage announcer pronounces this short afternoon set as 'one of the greatest he as seen' - that may be going a little far, but despite how long they have been playing together (barring Ben, who is standing in for Jon Sevink - who has a 'poorly paw'), Levellers today are as energetic, enthusiastic and charged with passion as they were when they first came to the world's attention.
Today's outing of their new material simply goes even further to proving that this is one horse that won't lie down easily.
Click here for our full Hop Farm Festival coverage.
We want your Hop Farm reviews!
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and reply to our review posts with your thoughts, insights, opinions and full-on reviews.
Send tweets to us with your reviews or comment on our Facebook page, or in the comments section below with your thoughts.
This isn’t about getting nasty if you don’t agree with our journalists, but an opportunity to leave your own appraisals, with the best ones getting published on the site.
So, what are you waiting for? Let us know your thoughts!