The band played in Newcastle
On the Level!
By contributor Annette Bartholomew
BBC producer Annette Bartholomew caught up with Level 42's singer Mark King after the band's recent gig in Newcastle.
A rock and roll tour must be a great way to forget about economic woes, domestic chores and the more mundane side of life.
Can anything surpass playing hits to your adoring fans then staying in luxury hotels with your every whim catered for? The reality may differ slightly but it still seems a great adventure.
Mark King seems very relaxed, especially as he is in the middle of a hectic, month-long tour spanning the length and breadth of Britain.
Talking on his mobile phone in his dressing room ahead of the band's next rehearsal he is also keeping an eye on BBC News on his laptop. The talented bass player is keen to monitor the latest news on the economic crisis.
And the composer of such hits as Something About You, Lessons in Love and Leaving Me Now, has even offered friends comforting words as they fear for the financial future.
"There is nothing you can do about it, so you should be calm and not worry," he said. "It is going to work itself out. I am aware of how hard it can be."
The 50-year-old remembers the last financial crash in the late 80s, ironically when Level 42 were at the peak both in the charts and touring. He hopes the 2008 tour will provide a feel-good factor for fans everywhere.
"We have a fantastic loyal fan base," he said. "We even had a poll on our website asking which songs they would like to hear again, the results were really surprising."
Mark King on stage
It is hard to believe Mark is now a father of three children in their 20s and also a 12-year-old as he looks so young. Also the energy he displays while using his distinctive slap bass techniques would shame a musician half his age.
Level 42's music is so versatile it defies being categorised. Sometimes the group's songs are pop but they can easily be classed as jazz or funk.
Mark is joined on this tour with another founding member, Mike Lindup, who skillfully performs both as a singer and keyboard player.
Drummer Gary Husband provides a dynamic rhythm support along with newcomers Nathan King (Mark's younger brother) on guitar and Sean Freeman on saxophone.
When pushed as to which is his all-time favourite Level 42 track, Mark's answer is the top-selling hit Something About You. He has just given permission for a Spanish singer to do his own version, which could make an interesting translation test.
And to provide luxury for the journeys in between the gigs Level 42 is travelling in a tour bus recently used by American legend Dolly Parton.
There are bunks for the crew along with a massive bedroom at the back of the bus with a double bed and TV screen. But Mark admitted the entire group prefers using the bunk beds instead.
At least Level 42 isn't resting too much: next year the group will be touring Europe and then it's back on the road in the UK in 2010.
last updated: 20/10/2008 at 13:39