Beach and cathedral host a band with a social conscience and dancing feet
It's coming up to 25 years since rootsy folk rock collective Levellers first unleashed their edgy, impassioned, politically-charged, fiddle-fuelled songs on the world.
A quarter of a century, six gold albums and numerous charting singles down the road, they continue to challenge society's attitudes and government policies the only way they know how – through their words and music.
Neither followers nor instigators of fads or fashions, they have always ploughed their own honest furrow, retaining a solid and loyal fanbase from their earliest days and are now inspiring a new generation.
"It's always been uncool to care, but that has never bothered us," muses frontman, singer and lyricist Mark Chadwick. "We're like Marmite; people seem to love us or hate us."
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Fortunately, the former sentiment seems to predominate these days and the band are much in demand.
Hot on the heels of a storming finale at their own annual festival, Beautiful Days, held in the grounds of Escot House in East Devon, the six-piece from Brighton play two very different Westcountry venues in the next few days. Tomorrow they headline on the beach stage at Looe Music Festival, and on Wednesday they play an acoustic concert in Exeter Cathedral.
As well as a rich catalogue built up since the late 1980s, they have an acclaimed new album to plunder for the live arena.
Static on the Airwaves, released in June, displays a new strength and maturity; it's a well-balanced powerhouse of a record, encompassing moody ballad, punked-up protest and rock and reel. It works on all listening levels (pardon the pun), whether you engage wholeheartedly with the lyrics or skim the surface wearing your dancing shoes. The album has a strong Devon link too; its producer is Dartmoor-dwelling Sean Lakeman, guitarist, songwriter, brother of Seth and partner, on and off stage, of singer Kathryn Roberts.
"He is an excellent person to have around," says Mark. "He knows more about the band than we do; he understands our dynamic. We can't always tell what is going to be a good Levellers song, but he always can. He brings a fresh pair of ears into the studio.
"It's not as brutal or naive as previous records; we are able to finesse things a bit more these days. It is mature, and it should be," adds Mark. "We are all in our mid 40s now – although that was never part of the plan!"
He is particularly excited about the acoustic cathedral shows, of which Exeter is the first of six.
"Exeter is almost like home these days," he adds. "I'll probably be living there myself sooner or later. Brighton is where we have our studio, but Devon is a much better part of the world altogether. And I love the cathedral; It's an amazing place, full of so many different stories."