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Level 42 - Review

by Tigger23 

Posted: 24 October 2006
Word Count: 597

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Concert review –

Level 42 – Birmingham Symphony Hall – 23/10/2006

Level 42, the countries best known and biggest selling Jazz Funk band played a solid set of old songs and new material from their latest album, ‘Retroglide’ when they played a sell out gig at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.

Support for the evening came from Kenny Thomas, one of the lost boys of 1990’s pop and his tight four piece band, who also provided strong vocal harmonies. Songs such as ‘Stay’ and ‘Hip’ were well received, but a version of the Norah Jones song ‘I don’t know why’ showed Thomas’s strength as a singer and the versatility of his group. The home run of his best known song ‘Thinking about your love’ was sealed by a rapturously received version of his first song ‘Outstanding’ and having learnt the art of leaving the crowd wanting more, the set was soon over.

Level 42, along with bands such as The Police were at the forefront of putting musicianship back into a 1980’s music scene that had recently been ravaged by the excesses of Punk rock.

In bassist Mark King, the band has one of the world’s best known exponents of Slap Bass, and it is this sound, alongside long time keyboard player Mike Lindup that provides much of the band’s focus and groove.

The group also consisted of drums, guitar, saxophone and percussion, with all group members also providing both lead and harmony vocals. The gig’s set list was drawn from new material and the band’s previous albums, some of which dated back to the 1980’s.

The band’s energy from their first song on was surprising, when remembering that some members are now nearing their fifties. The familiar fanfare of ‘Heaven in your hands’ soon sequed into the gig’s first proper song ‘Dive into the Sun’. By the time the band played their third song, ‘Hot Water’ the demographically diverse audience was on their feet. Although every band member is a talented and consummate musician, they have never forgotten the importance of a good groove when playing in the live arena. The songs unison guitar, bass and saxophone parts showed the influence of Jazz, but also remained accessible to the sold out audience.

As well as their jazz and funk styles, many songs also owed a lot to early progressive rock music. The keyboard parts in ‘World Machine’ in particular betrayed the influence of this sound. This impression was also enforced by the group’s effective light shows.
Songs such as ‘Retroglide’ were well received, as was a version of ‘Star-Child’ which gave keyboard player and singer Mike Lindup sometime in the spotlight.

The powerhouse drumming of long term member Gary Husband the band, while percussionist Kwaku Dzidzornu helped to add rhythmic colour and depth to the band’s sound.

The melodic interplay of Saxophonist Sean Freeman and guitar player Nathan King fitted perfectly with the songs and the grooves. The duo sometimes played in unison, sometimes soloing sequentially, but neither one put a note out of place, which showed how well drilled and in the pocket the whole band was.

A twelve minute medley of some of their greatest hits including ‘Running in the Family’, ‘Something about you’ and ‘Lessons in Love’ was a fitting finale and a reminder of the band’s success and importance.

Two encore followed. The new song ‘Sleepwalking’ showed the band had not lost their ear for a good rhythm and hook, while the older song ‘Chinese Burns’ allowed each member the chance to solo, and to be rewarded with an ovation from their devoted fanbase.

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Comments by other Members

Richard Brown at 10:13 on 26 October 2006  Report this post

Music criticism isn't a genre in which I would claim any expertise but this seems to me to be a very competent review, giving, as it does, the essential information and a 'feel' of the event. It could do, though, with a touch of editing. Things which I noted:

Para 1 - 'country's'
Para 2 - not sure about the used of 'sealed'
Para 6 - 'sequed' should be 'segued'?
Para 6 - a tricky one but my preference is for audience on 'its' feet rather than 'their'.
Para 6 - 'sell-out' audience rather than 'sold out'?
Para 8 - not sure what 'Gary husband the band' means
Last para - 'encores' instead of 'encore'.

I hope these don't seem too nit-picky!


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