News & Insights 13 May 2006

“Can we have more baby-oil for the girls please?”

Saturday 13 May, 3.30pm (Come Together Festival, Henley, Oxfordshire):
We’ve just come offstage after our set at the Come Together Festival in Henley-on-Thames. Playing nearly an hour’s set before lunchtime left me feeling a little light-headed, but it was a great lark and everyone seemed to have a good time. We met the guys from Wire Jesus, an excellent Reading band who you really should check out if you get a chance (www.WireJesus.com). Oh, and for the record, the Come Together Festival does a mean buffalo-steak wrap. That’s all I have to say.

Thursday 18 May, 1pm (An abandoned warehouse, Brentford, London):
Someone we know who works for a media company has asked George and I to fill in as extras on a Ministry Of Sound music video. As a result, at midday on a Thursday lunchtime we find ourselves underground in an abandoned warehouse off the M4, dressed as pikeys and cheering on two lubed-up bikini-clad dancers who seem to be engaging in some kind of passive-aggressive mating ritual to a thumping house track. Apparently they’re shooting the uncut version later on (featuring a parade of topless Page 3 models), but to our consternation we have to leave early in order to get to a Lightyears gig in Berkshire. Nevertheless, today’s events have allowed me to fulfil a lifelong ambition – to be standing on a darkly-lit film set, surrounded by models, whilst the director yells into a megaphone, “OK, people, can we have more baby-oil for the girls please?”. You just can’t write lines like that.

Friday 26 May, 13.45pm (M1, just north of Birmingham):
We’re on our way to Liverpool to make our second appearance at the world-famous Cavern Club for the International Pop Overthrow Festival. The journey, thus far, isn’t going spectacularly well. Tony is advocating “rounding up all drivers with caravans, at dawn, and shooting them in the face”. Caravan drivers provoke the most violent of rage in Tony. Luckily a couple of Mexican 3-bean wraps and a bottle of lemon-scented sparkling mineral water calms him right down. The north looms on the horizon.

Saturday 27 May, 3am (Matthew Street, Liverpool):
We arrived in Liverpool at about 6pm and made straight for our hotel, a building which is an architectural refugee of the 1970s and makes no bones about it (let’s just say that the TVs run a medley of Upstairs Downstairs, Rising Damp and Mork & Mindy). The chain-smoking proprietor greeted us with the opening gambit “Wow – you look like The Beatles!”, which I initially interpreted as quite a compliment until it occurred to me that she probably says that to every party of eager Southerners she’s about to bill for 120 quid.

The gig at The Cavern was awesome. The IPO Festival is completely free and there are bands playing wall-to-wall, for hours on end, over a period of five days. There was a big crowd in tonight, including some friends of ours from the BBC who are up in Liverpool filming a turn-of-the-century episode of Casualty called Casualty: 1906. Afterwards we spent some time chatting to an impressively coiffeured Finnish band called Flylow and a retro pop act from Switzerland called My Name Is George. Apparently they’ve never actually met anyone called George so hanging out with The Lightyears was a real coup for them. It’s now 3am and we’re wandering around the city centre trying to find the Aachen Hotel, which has definitely moved since we checked in this afternoon.

Saturday 27 May, 8pm (M1, just outside Chester):
We’ve just played our second Liverpool gig of the weekend (at Lennon’s Bar) and are speeding down the motorway for a night’s rest before supporting New Model Army at the Clapham Grand tomorrow. We’re right in the middle of a conversation about how journeys are always quicker on the way back when Tony remembers he left his rucksack in the venue – alongside a £400 iPod, £200 headphones and about 300 Euros in cash from our Alps Tour. The detour adds an hour and a half to our trip. Just as well the tourbus is fully stocked with flapjacks then.

Sunday 28 May, 10pm (The Clapham Grand, London):
Justin Sullivan from New Model Army is currently playing the headline slot at the Darryl Kempster Memorial Gig at the Clapham Grand (in aid of Greenpeace). We played an earlier slot, at about 7pm, to an enthusiastic crowd of hundreds. They’ve even opened the Upper Circle tonight, so there are people chilling out up there as well. I have got lost six or seven times trying to find the dressing room. Rock.

Monday 29 May, 11am (Lightyears HQ, Chiswick, London)
24 hours to go until we jet off to Korea. Before then, we’re playing a slot at the Watlington Festival, which is a good hour and a half’s drive from Lightyears HQ. Which could prove a challenge in light of the fact that George’s car got impounded this morning. In Wandsworth. We left it outside the Clapham Grand last night and when George returned to find it at about 10.30am, it wasn’t there.

It is for this reason that we are currently embroiled in a kind of Lightyears equivalent of the TV show 24. George is Jack Bauer, out on the street fighting international terrorists (a.k.a. the Wandsworth Council Car Pound), and I’m that funny blonde girl at CTU using state-of-the-art government computer technology (a.k.a. Google Maps) to direct him around the city. I’m half-expecting George to arrive at the pound and find the car crushed into a small, sad cube, but fortunately this isn’t the case. Nevertheless, the pirates charge us £200 for the privilege of reclaiming our vehicle.

The sting of this morning’s episode is relieved somewhat by a cracking show at the Watlington Festival. The place is absolutely heaving, and there’s a hardcore of long-haul LYs fans who sing along to all the album tracks and, impressively, the new ones as well. Afterwards we beat a hasty retreat back home, on account of the fact that none of us, not even one of us, has even considered starting to pack for our Korean Tour. Which starts tomorrow morning.

Let’s hope we make it. Watch this space for Part One of the band’s Asian adventure…

Chris Lightyear

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