The Levellers brought the opening night of Guilfest to a euphoric close, treating the crowd to an expansive selection of new material and an encore collaboration with 3 Daft Monkeys.
Introduced on-stage by old friend Howard Marks, the veteran rock band (voted Best Feel-Good Act in last year's UK Festival Awards) kicked off with 'England My Home'. Dreadlocked bass player Jeremy Cunningham amused fans by ambling breathlessly up on to the stage mid-way through the song, greeted by a "Nice of you to join us, Jeremy" from frontman Mark Chadwick.
The headline set was clearly intended as a showcase for the band's forthcoming studio album 'Letters From The Underground' – their first in three years – (released 11th August). No less than 9 brand new songs were debuted with titles including 'Life Less Ordinary', 'Burn America', 'Heart of The Country', 'Death Loves Youth' and 'Cholera Well'. 'Before The End' featured a duet with a female singer, intoduced as Lois, and was reminiscent of the Manic Street Preachers' 'Your Love Is Not Enough'. Generally, the material seemed to find consistency with much of the band's back catalogue, and was welcomed enthusiastically by the loyal crowd, many of whom already appeared to know the words.
Of course, the biggest singalongs were saved for the favourites and the band delivered plenty of gems from their 18 year career, including 'Beautiful Day', 'One Way', 'Boatman', 'The Road', 'Sell Out', 'Carry Me', 'Dirty Davey' and 'Liberty'. An empassioned 'Men An Tol' with guitarist and local resident Simon Friend taking lead vocals was a particular highlight and left lumps in many a throat.
"We'd like to thank you, Guildford, for taking care of Simon for us these last few years", Announced Chadwick afterwards, before adding, "I'd also like to thank Jon, our fiddle player, for playing with a broken foot tonight – is there no end to his talent?"
After a typically rousing 'Riverflow', the band left the stage, returning for a three song encore. For closing number 'What You Know', the band were joined by Cornish folk band 3 Daft Monkeys.
Other acts who performed on the day included Carbon/ Silicon (featuring The Clash's Mick Jones), The Brian Jonestown Massacre, 65 Days of Static, Freakpower, System 7 and The Egg.
Under a clear sky, the atmosphere of the event was light and jovial, with many more teenagers than usual in attendance.
The award-winning festival continues today (Saturday) with Blondie headlining and Sunday with the Australian Pink Floyd Show.
Stay posted for our full reviews, videos and photo galleries.
The Levellers Played:
- England My Home
- Sell Out
- Life Less Ordinary
- The Road
- Beautiful Day
- Boatman Jig
- One Way
- Before The End
- Burn America
- Men An Tol
- Heart of the Country
- Carry Me
- Death Loves Youth
- Dirty Davey
- Cholera Well
- Eyes Wide
- What You Know (w/ 3 Daft Monkeys