The Levellers are a Brighton based folk rock band founded in 1988. They were at the peak of their popularity in 1994. It has become customary on occasions when the ex-singer of a popular band comes to town as a solo act, to expect a new found direction in their music and to experience brand-new unfamiliar material, with maybe a few oldies thrown to keep the audience interested. Tonight is the first time that a Leveller comes to Croydon to perform and it seems Mark Chadwick has a different trick up his sleeve. To our delight Mark levels the lounge with a plenitude of old Levellers songs.
The first Levellers song Mark plays is The Boatman from Levelling the Land (second LP, 1991) at which point the mood changes. Fans of the band were illustrious for their loyalty during the nineties; many of the people singing along here and now were the ‘happy hitchers’ who followed The Levellers around the country twenty years ago. Mark goes onto play One Way and Far from Home also from Levelling the Land, and Carry Me from their first EP Carry Me 1989 which was re-recorded for A Weapon Called the Word (first LP, 1990). A feeling of happiness, reminiscence and unity fills the room as our favourites come streaming at us. The set includes my personal favourites Just the One (Zeitgeist, 1995) and Beautiful Day (Mouth to Mouth, 1997).
Mark delivers a solid set with a distinct touch of professionalism.
Since the release of his solo album All the Pieces in 2010 Mark’s style has been considerably more folk than rock. Tonight’s offering feels much more like a reunion and remains grounded to the roots of folk and punk. The Levellers always expressed a punk streak within their music through the feeling of togetherness and unity it creates; combined with the unwashed grubbiness of their fans. English Folk rock with a twist of punk. A unique blend of genders embodied at this moment in time by a single man on stage with his acoustic guitar.
The turnout is not exactly the stage front crowd of Glastonbury 94 but we are highly attentive and Mark receives a warm welcome on his first performance in Croydon. Mark returns to Croydon in March 2013 – so for all the people who stayed in to watch the X Factor final this time – don’t miss out again.
Scream Lounge, Croydon
Saturday 8 Dec 2012
Words by John Mclean