During the darkest days of the coronavirus lockdown Level 42 frontman Mark King feared performing live would never return.
After more than four decades with the funk-pop legends, the 62-year-old admits he wasn’t ready for the daunting prospect of never playing in front of his fans again.
Tours were cancelled, rescheduled and then cancelled again and for Mark, there seemed little light at the end of the tunnel.
Thankfully live shows have finally returned and Mark is ready to make the most of it when the 80s chart stars headline The Music Hall in Aberdeen on Sunday.
Mark has promised to deliver an “unashamed nostalgic trip down memory lane” with the band that has racked up more than 30 million album sales worldwide.
He said: “It’s amazing to be playing live again as I missed it so much.
“When that was taken away from me there was that feeling of ‘oh no, is this it?’
“Is this how it happens? – because we all know one day it finishes.
“I wasn’t ready for it.
“This is the only thing I have done for 41 years
“I found the whole period, along with everyone else, extremely stressful in this depressing way because we never knew how long it would go on for.
“It certainly looked unlikely that shows would return which was scary.
“It was not like it was a localised thing as you were getting the same news from all over the world.
“It was a very sobering period and really did wake me up because in the longest times it was hard to think what it would be like to be back.
“I did think will it ever get back to normal – but these shows are living proof that it is.”
A nostalgic trip down memory lane
Formed on the Isle of Wight in 1979 Level 42 fused jazz, rock and pop and secured phenomenal success in the United Kingdom and globally.
Released in 1985 single Something About You peaked at number seven in the United States Billboard charts.
I thought it would be good to go go back and unashamedly provide a nostalgic trip down memory lane with Level 42’s music.”
The following year Lessons in Love also went top 10 in the States.
Bassists and singer Mark, who developed a distinctive thumb-slapping technique, insists Level 42 will roll back the years to play all their hits in the Granite City.
He said: “I thought it would be good to go back and unashamedly provide a nostalgic trip down memory lane with Level 42’s music.
“Particularly in the circumstances of what we have all been through, we want to transport people for two hours back to a time when everything just seemed so much simpler.
“To a time they have all these great memories from.
“Music is a bit like a smell. You can smell something and that sense will take you somewhere, back to a certain time – music is the same in that it transports you back.
“It’s great that Level 42 can do that and take fans back for a little time.
“In a lot of ways you could call it a greatest hits tour as I have tied to cram in as many of hits as we can.
“The appetite for live music has been really sharpened by the lack of it over the last 18 months.
“It feels a real privilege to give people what they have been wanting for so long.”
Level 42 recently released two box sets celebrating their global success whilst on Polydor Records in the eighties.
Each box set comprises 10 CDs with The Complete Polydor Years (1980-84) released in March with (1985-89) following in May.
The box sets contain all the hits plus B-Sides, 7” Mixes, remixes and rare versions.
Releasing such an extensive retrospective underlines how influential, prolific and popular Level 42 were in the 80s.
Lockdown solace on the Isle of Wight
At the height of their fame Level 42 sold out Wembley Arena for a total of 21 nights.
For Mark, nothing beats the thrill of playing to an audience.
When that was denied during the lockdown the singer/songwriter sought solace on the Isle of Wight.
He said: “I have always been aware of how necessary it is for your soul and spirit to have some space, trees and nature.
“I’m an islander from the Isle of Wight which is so naturally beautiful.
“I can’t imagine how awful it must have been living in a high rise flat in a city during lockdown.
“I’m lucky I have a big garden and fields I can potter about in, grow tomatoes and do all the things when the weather allows.”
Fame? It was always about the music
Level 42 were one of the biggest selling bands of the eighties but stood apart from the fashion of the time – they were all about the music.
Their jazz funk-pop sound continues to be popular and has inspired contemporary acts.
Foo Fighters singer, guitarist and former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl has credited Level 42 for influencing him.
On coping with fame in the eighties, Mark said: “It was never overnight and explosive like our peers such as Spandau Ballet or Duran Duran had.
“We were never pin-up boys, it was just about our records.
“We were coming at it from the point of view of digging the music and playing.
“It wasn’t so much about putting the outfit on although I have nothing but respect for those guys.
“It has always been about the music.”
Level 42 relishing playing Aberdeen
Mark is relishing playing in Aberdeen and admits it is a city Level 42 have not performed in as often as he would have liked.
He said: “We have been a bit remiss in not getting up to Aberdeen so much in the last 4o years.
“The public think this is a choice we make – it isn’t.
“We will play anywhere, any time.
“We just need a promoter, particularly a local one, who wants to put us on.
“If you don’t get those offers you don’t go so it is not down to the band.”
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