“Are they still around?”
A question that, it seems, is often asked about the Levellers; perhaps with good reason. After all, it has been a good ten years since albums like ‘Zeitgeist‘ propelled the Brighton septet into the upper echelons of the UK charts, and they’re lucky to receive so much as a hint of mainstream media attention these days.
However, the band’s focus was always first and foremost on their live performances; and it is arguably these which have most enabled them to survive out of the media spotlight. Their vivacious, inclusive gigs have kept seasoned fans coming back to see them time and time again – even if it means flying halfway across the world – and recruited newer, younger fans through that most simple of tactics: word of mouth.
If you don’t yet know whether the Levellers’ raucous blend of folk, rock and punk influences is for you, then the first DVD of ‘Chaos Theory‘ is worth watching to hear the band in their ideal environment. Recorded at a sold-out show at the Reading Hexagon earlier this year, features a setlst guaranteed to keep most Levellers fans happy, with a clutch of newer songs mixed in with old favourites like ‘The Road’ , ‘One Way’ and ‘Beautiful Day’. Sound levels dip from time to time, but otherwise it’s pretty high quality stuff.
The second CD is geared more towards the devoted Levellers fan; featuring footage of a 2004 acoustic performance at Buxton Opera House, as well as a clutch of Clash covers from last year’s ‘Beautiful Days’ festival (with a guest appearance from a certain Billy Bragg). There’s also a clutch of amusing band/fan interviews, the (ahem) wonder of the ‘Jez Cam’ and the band’s 1993 tour documentary ‘Part Time Punks’ thrown in for good measure.
Overall, ‘Chaos Theory’ serves as a fine document of Levellers career to date. Make no mistake, if they can keep up the quality of the performances on display here, then they’ll be around for a good few years yet.