Performing in New Zealand for the first time in May 2020
Level 42 left their mark on the 1980’s with a polished, upbeat, danceable pop/rock sound largely defined by lead singer / bassist Mark King’s thumb-slap bass technique. Catchy hits such as ‘Lessons in Love’, ‘Running in the Family’ and ‘Something About You’ crossed the band from their jazz-funk fusion roots firmly into the mainstream pop charts and gave them a fanbase worldwide.
To date Mark King and the band have released 14 studio albums, 7 live albums, and 6 compilation albums, had 18 top 40 singles, including Lessons in Love, Something About You, Leaving Me Now, Running in the Family, and Hot Water, selling in excess of 30 million albums worldwide.
As a live act Level 42 have primarily toured the UK (They’ve sold out London’s Wembley Arena for a total of 21 nights over their career), Scandinavia and Continental Europe, and have had a number of forays into the North American market on arena tours with the likes of Peter Gabriel and Steve Winwood. Why they never made it down-under for concerts has Mark King scratching his head, but he is rapt the opportunity is finally here 40 years into his career, “Touring with the band this year has been about as much fun as I can remember having had on the road, and If you had asked me back in 1980 if I thought we would be selling out theatres around the world when I was sixty years old I probably would have laughed! Re-invention can be a wonderful thing!”
At the beginning of their career, Level 42 was squarely a jazz-funk fusion band, contemporaries of fellow Brit funk groups like Atmosfear, Light of the World, Incognito, and Beggar & Co. The band’s commercial peak came with 1985’s World Machine. Starting out as ‘The Early Tapes’ on the Isle of Wight in 1979, the band featured Mark King (bass, vocals) and Mike Lindup (keyboards) who are both still in the band today, along with brothers Phil Gould (drums) and Boon Gould (guitar). Before they released their first single, “Love Meeting Love,” as the band were initially an instrumental act, they were pushed to add vocals to their music in order to give it a more commercial sound. Mark King became the lead singer. Level 42 had several minor hit singles before 1984’s “The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up)” hit the British Top Ten. Released in late 1985, World Machine broke the band worldwide; “Lessons in Love” hit number one in Britain and “Something About You” hit number seven in America. Their next two records, Running in the Family (1987) and Staring at the Sun (1988), were a big success in the U.K., yet made little headway in the U.S. Both of the Gould brothers left the band in late 1987; they were replaced by guitarist Alan Murphy and drummer Gary Husband. Murphy died of an AIDS-related illness in 1989; he was replaced by the renowned fusion guitarist Alan Holdsworth for 1991’s Guaranteed. The band followed Guaranteed in 1995 with Forever Now.
Throughout the remainder of the ‘90s and the 2000s, the band’s line-up fluctuated, with King the lone constant and his brother, guitarist Nathan King, onboard since 2001. In 2010, the band celebrated its 30th anniversary with a special tour, as well as a box set, Living It Up, which included a disc of fresh acoustic versions recorded by Mark King and Lindup. 2010 also saw Husband leave the band once again, replaced by Pete Ray Biggin. The group continued to tour over the next few years before releasing new material in 2013, in the form of the EP Sirens. Supporting the release with an extensive tour of the U.K. and Europe, the group also recorded the live release The Sirens Tour, at their stop in London in 2015. The band continued to tour into 2016 with performances at festivals across Europe and South America. 2019 proved to be another very busy year for Level 42 with the guys playing 20 festivals from Quebec to Russia, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, and the UK.
2020 will see the From Eternity To Here Tour as the guys take to the road with a string of festivals and concerts worldwide. A Royal Albert Hall date awaits them in the middle of an extensive UK tour in October / November.
Level 42 have proven to be one of the most successful and enduring British bands of the 1980’s, and with the recent re-issues of the bands vast catalogue on Universal Music, and the ‘Collected’ series on CD and Vinyl, it is clear they continue to be a benchmark for British Jazz Funk at the highest level.
Level 42 perform at Auckland’s Civic Theatre on 20th May 2020.