Level 42, with special guests The Christians, came to Wolverhampton today to kick of a lengthy UK tour dubbed “Living It Up On Tour”. My second gig this year at Wolverhampton’s revamped iconic venue. Just like the first visit I have to say I can’t fault the staff there at all.
I know that AEG had a big recruitment drive recently to staff out The Civic and everyone I dealt with tonight was friendly and helpful, especially the security so top marks there.
When I got there the queue was humongous, a line of eager fans filtering in to take their spot for tonight’s performance. Walking into the main room it was a different feeling to my last visit, and the seating had been pulled out for this one but as the night went on these chairs were seldom sat on.
The room filled up nicely as The Christians graced the stage. For some reason, unbeknownst to myself or the security, I wasn’t allowed to shoot the special guests which was a shame so I took to my seat to take in the performance. Perhaps best known for their rendition of “Harvest For The World” they came on to a not too shabby reception from the crowd.
At this time in their career the only original member is Garry Christian who is, as described by their website, “The Face” and “The Voice” of the band. I think he needs to add another string to his bow as stand up comedian as he had the crowd in stitches at times throughout the set with his banter.
Making many quips about being too old for this, about men in their 50s wearing skinny jeans, and even jokingly pointing out a couple of people walking in front of the stage, waiting for them to pass before carrying on (and when an elderly lady was being escorted along the same path made the comment “we can’t really say anything here”).
The band he has backing him are fantastic musicians, a very tight and skilled unit. All in all I have to say they were very entertaining and i’d love to see them again on their own tour.
Sometimes the “Special Guest” slots are too short, sometimes too long but this set certainly filled the former, and towards the end when Garry realized there was only 11 minutes left he exclaimed “what can you do in 11 minutes” to which someone from the seats shouted out “Rice” which lead to another amusing back and forth.
A thoroughly enjoyable, albeit too short, set which included (among others” “What’s in a word”, “Ideal World”, “Forgotten Town” and (after asking to crowd to stand, which they happily obliged) “Harvest For The World.
After a quick stage turnaround and, for some, another trip to the bar. Then, when it was time, the lights dimmed and Level 42 came on to the stage to a massive ovation. It was clear that everyone was thrilled that Mark King and Co had arrived and considering this was the first night of the tour they had certainly brought the A game, along with some flashy stage gear too.
As with most bands in this stage of their career there are only a small number of original members, in this case Mark King and Mike Lindup. However, like The Christians, the other musicians in this current lineup backing Mark and Mike were absolutely phenomenal.
This was proven in the pure showman ship from each and every one of them and the huge smiles that adorned the face of Mark and Mike as they acknowledge every band member throughout the night. And the smiles weren’t the only huge things tonight, there were a lot of huge endings to the songs too that were obviously well rehearsed and thought out.
They brought the jazz-funk-disco -fusion vibes and everyone was lapping it up (I swear I even heard a Roland 303 in the mix at one point, giving out a bit of an acid bass line – I absolutely love the 303).
I have always admired Mark King as a bass player, he is certainly up there with the greats (I’d love to hear Mark King and Les Claypool have a bass battle, it would be a very close call indeed) and the sheer passion he put into his performance was a spectacle in itself.
Donned in his shiny trippy shirt and flares he really did give the funk to everyone there, and combined with Mikes skills behind his mass of keyboards and the trademark sharing of the vocals the groove was infectious. There was hardly a bum on a seat and the whole place was going off. There were people of all ages there, from about 5/6 to 70 and every one of them was living their best life tonight.
There were seamless transitions from song to song as well as plenty of chat from Mark, who obviously has knowledge of the area as he addressed us as Wolves many a time (A rarity from any non local band playing).
Seeing a band playing their hearts out grinning from ear to ear is one of the best things to watch, especially when they play with the skill that every musician on that stage exhibited. I am both happy that I got to be a part of it, and also extremely jealous of those that get to see the other shows on this tour as it was certainly, hand on heart, one of the best shows I have seen this year.
The Beginning was high energy, followed by a slightly calmer middle and finished on even higher energy and after all was said and done the band came to the front of the stage to shake hands with as many fans as they could.
They are a band that adores their fans and that is why they deliver the goods with such passion.
The set had all the crowd favorites in there such as “Running In The Family”, “Micro Kid” “Something About You”, “Lessons In Love”, “Starchild” and many many more.
This is an extensive tour so if you love Level 42, The Christians, Jazz-Funk-Disco or even if you are just an admirer of the slap bass sound get your tickets now, this is a tour not to be missed but to be seen and enjoyed.