Opening for the Levellers is Frank Turner, playing an acoustic set. It’s not an easy slot as the Academy is half empty, but Frank wins people over with his accessible sing-a-long style and blokey good humour. He’s brought a small following and they are soon joined by those who have arrived early and have discovered that Frank Turner is pretty good.

Next up are Czech band Divokej Bill. There are about 9 of them playing a fusion of rock and Czech folk music. This gets people up and dancing, clapping along and even singing when told the words. They are pretty enjoyable and provide a more authentic Eastern European folk sound than Gogol Bordello.

Levellers Christmas gigs seem to have been given the mantle of the drunken party night out before Christmas. Some people seem to have come along for a nostalgia trip back to the early 90s and a drunken party. Unfortunately this isn’t such a good experience for those of us who have come along to see the Levellers and have a good dance around. The drunken party louts stagger about, throw beer around and stupidly try to carry their pints into the mosh pit. I’m not sure what part of mosh pit they don’t understand, and it is quite funny to see them lose most of their carefully carried pints as they stagger into the heaving crowd.

It’s shame because the Levellers are on form and their new material is a return to their more political folk-punk roots. I want to dance, enjoy myself and immerse myself in the music, but there’s too much going on to distract me and my opportunities to do so are limited to snatched brief periods of enjoyment.

I’m looking forward to seeing them at a summer festival, where I can meet friends, dance, sing a long and keep well away from Christmas revellers trying to relive their student days. The Levellers are still relevant now and their latest album, 'Letters from the Underground, addresses the issues of today. That is where we need to live, not in some intoxicated dream of a happier past.

The photographs that accompany this article were taken exclusively for Pennyblackmusic by Neil Bailey.

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