Chic and posh and the nearest place to home for the Level 42 leader

Left to right, Level 42 are Sean Freeman, Mike Lindup, Pete Ray Biggin, Mark King and Nathan King.
Left to right, Level 42 are Sean Freeman, Mike Lindup, Pete Ray Biggin, Mark King and Nathan King.
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‘I love playing in Portsmouth, it’s the nearest I get to home,’ says frontman Mark King who lives on the Isle of Wight.

The 54-year-old singer and bass player is looking forward to jamming at Victorious Festival at the end of the month.

He says: ‘It’s such a good line-up this year and I’m always excited to play for a big crowd.

‘We’ve had six festivals this month from Holland to Rewind Scotland.’

When Mark and I talk, he’s back on the island but doesn’t seem to be taking a break. ‘I’m still recovering from one to many last night,’ he explains.

‘I had a great time watching my daughter Jolie’s gig in Ryde and ended up jamming with her on stage for a bit.

‘But today I’m in the studio hard at work on our new sound, so it’s been very full on.

‘Dance seems to be the next direction and we’re working on six new tracks.

‘I’d like to release an EP to see what the fans think. It’s really exciting!’

Born in Cowes and raised on the island, Mark moved to London when he was 19 along with the band.

Thirty million record sales and 20 Top 40 hits prove Level 42 are without doubt the biggest musical thing to come out of the Isle of Wight.

And, after 10 years, he returned home to raise his four children and now lives with his wife, Ria, and youngest daughter, Marlee, just outside Sandown.

It’s clear his family are important to him.

‘They’ll be coming to the show for sure,’ he says excitedly. ‘We’ve been trying to hunt down a hotel to crash at because trusty Wightlink have stopped their night ferry crossings and we’re on quite late.’

After 30 years of touring, Mark still feels the atmosphere in Portsmouth stands out.

‘Pompey people come across posh,’ he says.

‘I think because I’m a local lad, people are more relaxed around us, but other places they go bananas.

‘Since the Spinnaker Tower was built, everything seems to be changing for the better in Portsmouth.

‘It used to be grey and dreary, but now when you come in on the ferry, Portsmouth is chic and posh. I bet that’s the first time anyone has referred to it as chic but I think it is!’

Mark and the band will be playing alongside Charlotte Church, Maximo Park, The Cribs and many more at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard over the Bank Holiday weekend on Saturday, August 24, and Sunday 25.

‘I love the eclectic mix of artists at the festival. I’m a big fan of DJs and I like the way they work with music so I’m looking forward to their late night sets,’ says Mark.

As a seasoned professional, Mark isn’t put off by the thought of performing in front of a crowd of 35,000 people.

He remembers: ‘We did the Rewind festival this year and had a power outage during our set.

‘Because there are so many drummers in the band now we played to our strengths and all had a jam as it was the only instrument still working.

‘I don’t know what JLS could do standing there with six dead mikes.’

To wrap up a hectic summer, the band is looking forward to the release of a CD and DVD recording of an intimate fan-only show. Live From Metropolis Studios comes out on September 19.

Says Mark: ‘It’s funny. I’ve been in the business since before all this technology. CDs came out three or four years after we started and by then we’d already released four albums on vinyl.

‘After the gig we got to chat with the fans over a few pints.

‘It’s nice doing a couple of one-off gigs for the fans because it gives us a chance to test drive new things.’

n Tickets: £15 per day for adults, £5 for those ages six to 15 and free for fives and under online from or in person at the dockyard Visitor Centre, The Belle Isle in Chichester, The Belle Isle in Southsea, Little Johnny Russell’s, the Wedgewood Rooms, Hovertravel, aspex gallery or Pie & Vinyl.