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Monday 18 October 2010

Mark Chadwick Was On Fire For The Faithful Few @ Brighton Homecoming Gig

Mark Chadwick took to the stage @ Concorde 2, last night (13th October), with a set bulging with critically acclaimed material from his new album, All The Pieces.
Mark Chadwick @ Concorde 2 Pic By Andy Sturmey

Remaining faithful to the album versions, he was also happy to throw in a few Levellers' gems for good measure.

For some reason – maybe just a sign of the times – punter numbers were sparse. But that seemed to have little effect on Chadwick and his seasoned band.

But he has come a long way since his 16 year-old self was politicised by the reign of Thatcher and sickened by those his own age who raised their fists at each other and punched a divide between themselves.

Mark, meanwhile, sort a different way to live and express himself. He saw music as a unifier and accepted Joe Strummer's call to arms and heeded punk's ethos to 'learn a few chords and form a rock 'n' roll band.'

Having been brought up following his soldier father from one barrack to the next, Mark found a way out of one constrictive bubble and a way into another where the possibilities and personal rewards were seemingly infinite:"Army life is a very contained life. Suddenly there's all this music, all this subculture I knew nothing about. Bam, it blew my head off."

Soon he was settled in Brighton and subsidising dole money with a bit of local busking. From thereon in he one-by-one met the characters who would help him achieve his vision under the banner of the Levellers.



Formed with Jeremy Cunningham and named after a radically democratic faction of Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army, Levellers went on to not only leave their mark on the top of the charts & play a historical set at Glastonbury, but also to successfully achieve their vision of heightening awareness of various anti-capitalist and environmental issues..

Now, at the not so tender age of 44, Mark Chadwick has unleashed his debut solo album, All The Pieces. Sounding a tad road weary and emotionally stretched, Mark has opened up and delivered twelve impeccably crafted reasons to believe that all the knock-backs and heartaches that he's seemingly accumulated along the way have benefited his songwriting and worldview into a prism of colour, where once he only saw in black and white.

The Great And The Dead is a classic homage to those who inspired and informed his working life: "I've been lucky enough to meet nearly all of my heroes - Strummer, Neil Young and even Johnny Cash who I worship. These people truly changed my life." He's never sounded better, more heartfelt nor more tender. It would be a standout on a Joe, Neil or Johnny album. A greater compliment I couldn't pay him.

Opener, Elephant Fayre, is catchy and flecked with a psychedelic homage to the way the collective feel at large youth-orintated gatherings. Indeed Elephant Fayre inspired the Levellers to start their own annual festival, Beautiful Days: "I never realised music could bring that many people together."



Title track, All The Pieces, is jaunty, almost sing-a-long, and is built on Mark's rather ominous and somewhat cryptic quote of: "A lot needed breaking, a lot was broken."

Satellite offers the dichotomy of being a large rock on a small planet. A good father, a righteous man and respected performer .. but what's it all worth? Big issues from the pen of a skilled writer.

He's not slow at being self-critical either. Of Say You're Gonna Be My Girl Mark says: "You want to be able to make things as easy and uncomplicated as possible. Because when you meet someone good you should do everything in your power to keep her. I have largely been fucking hopeless as that." Set to a danceable-singathon-of-a-tune, 'Girl is as radio friendly as the album gets.

Closer, Whispers, asserts that 'nothing is written in stone. Mercifully.' Seemingly about death being a relief from life's agonies. Again, All the Pieces, is big, bold and all grown-up. Much like Chadwick himself. Hopefully it will find the audience it deserves, and an equal place in musical history alongside the Strummers, Youngs and even Johnny Cashs. A quiet masterpiece.


Mark Chadwick's All The Pieces is out now via Stay By Records, and a his UK tour continues until 16th October. For more info visit: www.markchadwickofficial.co.uk


by: Mike Cobley




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Photo credit: Sante D'Orazio

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