The last time I saw Mark Chadwick I was surrounded by a couple of thousand other punters at the Birmingham Academy and he was surrounded by the band he formed way back in 1988, The Levellers. This evening he was flying solo and audience numbers were a more modest 200 or so, at least one of whom had travelled all the way from Cardiff to be here. What’s the Welsh for dedication...hold on...’ymroddiad’ apparently...hey, who says the internet’s just a vapid pool of porn and pictures of cats that look like Hitler eh?
First up though local band The Sweet Black Angels, indie country folksters with some instantly hummable tunes and a bit of an Oasis twang here and there, minus the OTT Manc swagger thankfully. Well worth catching if you get the chance.
Ambling onstage at around 8-ish Chadwick launched into what amounted to a greatest hits set that was refreshingly relaxed and informal, especially for an artist with six gold discs and a number one album in his back pocket...yep, I know...you kind of forget that don’t you? It was a timely reminder for anyone there who wasn’t a superfan (a fair portion of the crowd were judging by the enthusiastic word perfect singalongs) though just how many great tracks The Levellers have and it’s a real shame that, so far at least, they’re perhaps not held in the same esteem as, say, yer Billy Bragg, one of the few other artists for whom politics and social issues aren’t dirty words.
Despite one of the organisers encouraging him to have mid set break so he could get his merch out he played on, noting that he wasn’t “that mercantile” and that if anyone wanted anything his Skoda was parked out the back with the doors open and they could just help themselves. From anyone else this would merely sound like an amusing joke but you kind of got the feeling that he was being genuine. Bless him.
Set highlight, the truly anthemic - and for once the word’s justified - One Way predictably went down a storm (even if it did only reach number 51 in the charts way back in 1991) and Mark even managed to inspire a mini moshpit, albeit one of the gentlest moshpits in the history of moshpits.
Gently teasing the crowd throughout the set for living in ‘Hobiton’ and having nothing to worry about apart from interior design issues (gawd knows what he’d make of Whimple...we’ll have to get him down here to find out) he blazed through the hits with the same kind of passion and oomph that he brings to the band (“I don’t know what they do in February” he mulled midset “don’t think I want to know either”) even bantering with the crowd and taking the odd request towards the end. That’s the (One) Way to do it.
Tickets for The Levellers very own Beautiful Days Festival are on sale right here, right now.