Live Review: The Levellers/ The Selecter & She Makes War in Sheffield

Venue: o2 Academy
Date: 20th November 2014

An impressive line up of musical artists were set to grace the stage of Sheffield’s O2 Academy tonight, with folk-rock stalwarts The Levellers, teamed with two-tone’s unmistakable Pauline Black and The Selecter, supported by new upcoming artist Laura Kidd aka She Makes War.

A mixture of genres and musical scenes, though wonderfully brought together by their fiery sense of independence and social views.

In a room full of rock fans and rude boys/ girls Laura Kidd took to the stage, a confident solo artist who could clearly hold her own. Hailing from Bristol, Laura at this point has been on the road with the bands for several weeks playing shows on the UK leg of their tour and some further afield in Europe.

Armed with her Les Paul, mandolin and loop pedal she layered her music with intertwined vocals, singing in harmony with herself over a set of simple yet strong chord sequences. Reminiscent of artists like Imogen Heap and haunting vocalist Alison Goldfrapp, Laura quietened the room of eager fans all fired up for the concert ahead. Greater things surely await this gifted young woman.

As expected, Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson gave an invigorated, highly charged performance playing many of their hits from the Too Much Pressure era, including Three Minute Hero, James Bond, They Make Me Mad and their biggest hit On My Radio.

Iconic front woman, Black lead the way with her varied and dynamic vocal range, with the powerful Hendrickson supporting, alongside a fabulously tight rhythm, woodwind and percussion section.

The band has been relentlessly touring for the past few years and it shows in their energetic but polished performance. This was once again a welcome return to South Yorkshire for the band.

Folk-rock, group The Levellers barely need any introduction after celebrating over 25 years in the music business, yet after all this time they’re just as strong as ever.

The crowd were cheering in anticipation for the band’s arrival. Lead singer, Mark Chadwick entered the stage kicking off with What A Beautiful Day and showering the whole venue in a flurry of confetti from the canons placed by the side of the stage. This certainly wasn’t going to be a quiet one!

Playing songs from the early and latter stages of their career tonight was going to be a whistle-stop tour of all their best

bits with a few special additions. Pauline Black joined the band to sing on Together All The Way with The Selecter’s woodwind section on Dog Train, a brilliant choice of songs to collaborate on.

For one of their more mainstream song choices, She Makes War came back to sing backing vocals on the catchy, This Garden.

From World Freakshow to Julie, Exodus to Hope Street the audience, young and old, sang along to every song. Rounding off the night with a double encore in traditional Levellers fashion with a rousing rendition of The Devil Went Down To Georgia followed by The Riverflow.

After over a quarter of a century, you wonder what makes Levellers fans come back time and time again? For me, their unashamed social comment and quality song writing teamed with a desire to keep doing what they love, making music and having a bloody good time on the way is what makes these guys special. It’s a philosophy I can’t fault.

– Charlie Barker