News & Insights 27 August 2008

250 people squeezed into the Barfly…

LYs rock out at the BarflyOn Thursday night we supported the Mystery Jets at a sold-out Camden Barfly. It was a hot August evening and the punters were packed into the Barfly’s intimate dimensions like moist sardines. The Jets had been forced to cancel a few weeks’ worth of festivals due to lead singer Blaine being in hospital and Thursday represented the band’s comeback gig, as well as a warm-up for their impending main stage performances at Reading and Leeds Festivals. Anticipation was high and Jets fans were clearly excited at the prospect of seeing their favourite band close-up. With the place also buzzing with an ample turn-out of LYs fans, the stage was set for a cracking night. 

Upstairs in the dressing room we were making our way through a bank of sandwiches and beers and listening to the Mystery Jets warming up through the wall. The incredibly well-kept appearance of our dressing room seemed suspicious until it was explained to us that the Barfly had just redecorated the place and given it a fresh lick of paint. Brilliant – we were the first band in and therefore it was our duty to trash it. This is, of course, something that we’re accustomed to doing and so I set to work straight away by putting my chewing gum in the bin even though it didn’t have a plastic bag lining. I’d like to see the staff get that out in the morning.    

Incidentally, whilst I’m on the subject of backstage antics, hats off to the Mystery Jets for their satisfyingly indulgent rider, which apparently included two bottles of Moet & Chandon, assorted crudites and a couple of roast chickens. This encouraged me to spend a little time working on my Fantasy Rider for when we reach the kind of celebrity strata normally reserved only for glamour models and Davina McColl. If you’re reading this and you promote for, I don’t know, let’s say Wembley Stadium or the Memphis Enormodome, here’s a heads-up on our backstage rider for the 2011 double-headline show with Whitesnake (T.B.C.):

– 2 eggcups of freshly distilled Peruvian mountain spring water faintly infused with the tears of a virgin
– A copy of 80s robot-comedy Short Circuit on VHS
Clippings from Des Lynam’s beard
– A bag of eels
– 1 metric ton of paprika Snack-A-Jacks
– A 10-foot high decorative tapestry depicting the Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1169 made from Faberge Eggs and snowflakes
– A box of damp otters
– Chesney Hawkes
– A speedboat

Some of these things may take a while to source so I suggest you make a start now.

LYs soundman Danny wants to crowd-surf...Once fed and watered we made our way downstairs to the main room which, by this point, was heaving with people. The gig had got coverage on Radio NME as well as on the front-page of the NME website and tickets had sold out over a week in advance. If you’ve never been there, you can take my word for it that 250 people squeezed into the Barfly made for quite an atmosphere. It was starting to heat up as well under the glare of the lights and the steady pulse of the August sun and so the circumstances were primed for a pretty intense show.   

We’d decided to mix things up a bit for this gig and so set aside our usual opening numbers for This House Will Burn and Sleepless. The gig really got going for me, however, during Beat Alive, which we played third. Normally I use this song as an opportunity to run around and jump off things but unfortunately, in this case, I didn’t have a lot of room for maneouvre onstage, given that I was hemmed in amongst the Jets’ extensive bank of vintage keyboards. Despite having reached the easy conclusion that knocking one of these over would not be a good move, I must admit to having accidentally given the lead singer’s synthesizer a little kick during the Beat Alive solo. Blaine, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I don’t think I caused any permanent damage. Which is good news, because I met your roadie and he looked like he could open up a serious can of whoop-ass.

We played Run next, which I think represented the song’s debut for many of our London fans. This was followed by She’s The One, a song actually based in Chalk Farm, home to the Barfly. Our cheeky cover of Lovecats went down pretty well, I thought, and we followed it up with high-energy performances of Banana Republic and Emily, ending on new song Brightest Star. Cheers were forthcoming from both the home fans and the away fans and we left the stage buzzing. By the time the gig had finished I think I’d sweated out around a stone in body weight, which actually doesn’t leave me with a lot in reserve. I’ll have to keep an eye on that. Wouldn’t want to evaporate one night during a gig. Could be embarrassing.

The Mystery Jets at the BarflyThe Mystery Jets put on a great show, knocking out a mix of material from their first and second albums including new single Two Doors Down, which I happen to believe is quite genius, if almost eye-wateringly kitsch. They’re a really unique band – check out the Mystery Jets website if you’re not familiar.

We took the party back to our house in South London afterwards and began the warm-up to a blistering Bank Holiday weekend that involved playing to a packed lock-in crowd at our local pub, champagne arm-wrestling and a mustard-drinking competition. But that’s another story.

Chris Lightyear

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