The Levellers have been going for 18 years now, delivering their brand of punk folk with a message to the masses. As well as touring extensively throughout Europe and putting on the Beautiful Days festival at Escot Park every August, they've found time to put out a two disc DVD featuring a disc of a live concert at Reading Hexagon, and a disc of extra material guaranteed to keep the fans happy.
The live concert is a classic Levellers gig, from the cut and paste George W Bush speech at the beginning, to the didgeroo solo in the middle. The Levellers have as much energy as ever and are as popular today as they were in the early 90's. They still sell out medium sized venues, both at home and abroad, and attract fans across all ages, as demonstrated on the extras DVD. The sound on the live recording is really good and will be appreciated by die-hard fans, people who just want to find out what the Levellers sound like and those who remember them from when they were younger and want a bit of nostalgia. It's a professionally executed production that features classic tracks such as 'Last Man Alive', 'Beautiful Day', 'Carry Me' and 'One Way' and definitely shows the Levellers at their best.
The second disc contains all the extras and will be of particular interest to Levellers' fans. I was pleased to finally see on it the recording of an acoustic gig at Buxton Opera House that I went to back in 2004, and which we were told was going to be coming out on DVD. Unfortunately the lighting hasn't turned out too well, although the sound is fine. The Levellers have chosen to showcase just 5 songs, possibly because the recording wasn't as good as they had hoped for. The songs they've chosen, however, are a good selection featuring guest appearances from Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span, Rev Hammer, Nick Harper and also Nick Burbridge from Dermots 2 Hours.
Other extras include footage of the Levellers' Joe Strummer tribute at 2005's Beautiful Days festival finale which had them performing Clash numbers with Billy Bragg and which sounds a lot better on DVD than I remember it sounding live ; a 'Part Time Punks' tour diary from 1993, a number of band and fan interviews and Jez Cam.
The material from 1993 shows how much vocalist Mark Chadwick's voice has changed over the years, becoming deeper with age, and people after a bit of nostalgia can try and spot their youthful selves at a number of venues, including Sheffield.
The interviews are more recent, and these provide a fascinating insight into the way the Levellers work and their beliefs and world views. The only criticism I would have is that there was a bit too much moving between black and white film with reverb for the interviewer to colour and normal sound for the interviewees, which is slightly distracting.
The fan interviews vary. There are the mother and daughter who go to the gigs together and which demonstrates the cross age appeal of the band ; some genuinely funny people like Scouse, and some who are just plain embarrassing. Still it's fun for them to try and spot themselves, but probably mainly of interest to the fans featured and their friends. 'Jez Cam' is just the Levellers being daft, for a bit of a filler. No doubt it will amuse fans of the band when they've had a few beers though.