Monday, 23 June 2014
Behind the Castle
Returning to my home town of Sherborne in Dorset is always a joyful, if sedate affair. So ever since I found out that the Levellers were coming to a festival set behind the castle and next to the lake, I've been driving everyone mad. All Levellers gigs get me excited, but this one was ultra special, because just a mile up the road from Sherborne Castle, my life changed 24 years ago when a friend called me into her study room to play me a tape.
I'd never heard this band before, but bounced around the room to a song called One Way that shook me to the core. When you consider the kind of stuff that was around at the time - Jason Donovan, Vanilla Ice, this handmade music where it seemed so much was happening in one song almost made me cry with happiness.
The rest of Levelling the Land can't be as good, I thought. Since playing that tape and hearing The Game, 15 years, The Boatman, Liberty and Far From Home, I've never, ever, ever failed to regain that sense of wonder at an album that's says so much to the catchiest tunes I've ever heard.
Then you turn the tape over and there's more! Sell out, Another Man's Cause, The Road, The Riverflow and Battle of the Beanfield. I played that tape so much that it disintegrated. Twenty four years on, onto my fourth copy of Levelling the Land, and not far from my old school, I nearly pop with excitement when the Levs' crew are preparing the stage. First time? A woman asks me. I laugh. More like 101st time!
It's been a great day, save for the slight niggle of waiting an hour at the bar, coupled with having our cider confiscated. But that's a minor point in what's been a lovely festival with Seth Lakeman, Steve Knightley, Sheelangig, Cara Dillon and most importantly, POSH TOILETS.
Those old favourites from Levelling the Land are all here tonight. One Way, of course, plus 15 years, Sell Out, Liberty and Riverflow, as well as Carry Me, England My Home, Life Less Ordinary, Cholera Well, Mutiny and the must-have What a Beautiful Day. Also Too Real which I haven't heard live in ages and the brilliant Belaruse. As I bounce home with the Devil Went Down to Georgia echoing in my years, I feel that life has come full circle and can't quite believe I've seen the Levellers in my hometown. I am 15 again, very sweaty and very happy. We'll be back next year if there are two bars!