Our Christmas at Ascot

19 January 2015

There’s only one guy who had a busier December than we did, and he’s got magic powers. Which I think we can all agree gives him an unfair advantage.

Yep, we spent the lion’s share of the festive period at Ascot Racecourse, where we had the pleasure of providing the entertainment for their run of Christmas parties. Here are the highlights:

Thanks to everyone at Ascot for looking after us (the chicken pies were AMAZING), and all the best for 2015!

Chris Lightyear

Our Favourite Moments Of 2013

29 December 2013

favourite moments of 2013In January there was some talk at Lightyears HQ about going all out to make 2013 the year we finally knocked Coldplay off their perch as the World’s Most Celebrated Polite Rock Band. However, in the end we got distracted by eating hot dogs on the banks of the Hudson River and playing bookish gigs in dimly-lit libraries, and perhaps this was for the best.

Wherever it was in the world, if you were part of our 2013 we thank you as always for your support. And here, in no particular order, are Our Ten Favourite Moments Of The Year:

Headlining Westminster Library
This year I completed my debut novel, Mockstars, a tale of debts, mugs and rock ‘n’ roll inspired by my international tour diaries for The Lightyears. In February, for the first time ever, we unleashed extracts from the book – along with some of the music that accompanies it – at a packed-out Westminster Library.

Eating free hot dogs in Astoria Park
At the tail end of the summer, we embarked on what turned out to be our favourite ever American tour. After the opening show at New York’s Astoria Park, the resident hot-dog salesman bounded over to us with a big bag of delicious free food as a thank-you for all the business we’d brought him. What followed was the most incredible hot dog I have ever eaten.

Signing with our new managers, R&R
The Lightyears are an independent band – operating without the investment of a record label – and we fund our creative endeavours by performing at private parties and corporate events. As Spring kicked in, we were delighted to sign a management deal with the excellent R&R Agency (AKA Rachel Gretton and Amy Long), with whom we intend to very soon take over the world. Get a taste of the action with our new showreel below:

Gigging in an 800 year-old Italian castle
We’ve played a bizarre range of venues in our time, from cow sheds in Belgium to that crèche in Peterborough. In 2013 we added a thirteenth-century Italian Renaissance castle to that list. Because we are simply that rock ‘n’ roll.

Hitting 100,000 views with ‘Titanium’
By now many of you will be familiar with our acoustic cover of David Guetta’s smash hit ‘Titanium’. This winter the video surpassed 100,000 views on YouTube which, you’ll be relieved to hear, means we can now all afford diamond-encrusted yachts and hover-shoes.

Signing with a top literary agent
Since I finished my Lightyears novel Mockstars I’ve been seeking the right agent to help me propel the book towards publication. In October I was signed up by leading literary agent Ed Wilson at Johnson & Alcock – find out more at

Joining Ronnie Wood on Whole World Band
We recently joined Rolling Stones’ guitarist Ronnie Wood on a brand-new music app called Whole World Band, which enables users to digitally ‘jam‘ with other musicians. Whole World Band made us their Featured Artist just before Christmas – find out more in the video below:

Returning to Brightlingsea Festival
Brightlingsea Festival in Essex is one of Britain’s best-loved small festivals, and we were delighted to be invited back there in August to perform to a capacity crowd and a perfectly blue sky. A memorable close to an eventful summer.

Performing at a Formula One party
As the year drew to a close, the Formula One team Sahara Force India invited us to perform at their Christmas party at Silverstone. Festive chaos ensued.

Playing a sell-out run in the USA
During our whirlwind tour of New York and Philadelphia in August, we were lucky enough to sell out every venue and play to some wonderfully warm and appreciative audiences. If you were there, thank you! You made our summer.

favourite moments of 2013

Happy New Year to one and all! x

Chris Lightyear

Check out

20 November 2013

music novelFor the past few years I’ve been working on a music novel inspired by my international tour diaries for The Lightyears. It’s called Mockstars, and I like to churlishly refer to it as ‘an uplifting tale of debts, mugs and rock ‘n’ roll’.

Mockstars has its very own website now at, which explains the background behind the book and hosts various news stories, blog postings, videos, photos and quotes from other authors. It’s probably the best website of all time, apart from obviously this one and AskJeeves, the rich man’s Google.

Incidentally, things took an exciting turn earlier this month when I was signed up by leading literary agent Ed Wilson at Johnson & Alcock, bringing the book (hopefully) one step closer to publication. Finding an agent has been a tough journey – less than 1% of writers who submit to agents get taken on – so I feel pretty lucky to have found someone who really gets the sense of humour behind the novel. We’ll be keeping you posted with any Mockstars-related news in the coming months.

In the meantime, enjoy the site, and perhaps think about asking for a Kindle for Christmas. Just in case.

Chris Lightyear

Our summer season of music festivals

6 August 2013

music festivals

Last Sunday we drove to a small seaside town, just south of Colchester, to perform at the Brightlingsea Festival. I’ve always thought there was something quite poetic about travelling to the very edge of the country to play music – and the whole experience was made all the better by the fantastically warm welcome we received when we got there.

Brightlingsea Festival is a brilliant community event. Run by enthusiastic, music-loving volunteers, as you can see from the photo above it attracts a buzzing crowd, as well as a wide range of musical styles (we were preceded by jazz and bluegrass bands, and followed by a swing band!).

This was our third appearance at Brightlingsea, and we hope to be back again sometime in the future. In the meantime, here’s a reminder of the other outdoor gigs we have coming up this summer…

Astoria Park Concert Series

If you’re in the New York area, catch us at Astoria Park on Thursday 15 August. Our first Astoria show was in 2010, to a crowd of 2,000 people on the banks of the East River. Magical! Can’t wait to get back. Click here to read more.

Burlington Amphitheater

The Burlington Amphitheater in New Jersey is one of our favourite venues in America. Their concert series is well-known in the community and we always get the chance to meet some tremendous people when we play there. We’ll be back again on Sunday 18 August. Click here to read more.


Back in the UK, we’ll be headlining the Piano Bar stage at Brownstock in Essex on Saturday 31 August. This year’s main stage headliners are The Fratellis, Mark Ronson and DJ Yoda, so there’s plenty of top-drawer musical shenanigans to keep you amused before and after our set. Click here to read more.

Chris Lightyear

Festival season climax – Brownstock 2013!

23 July 2013

Brownstock 2013As pianist in The Lightyears, I’d like to express my gratitude to the organisers of Brownstock 2013 for naming an entire stage after my instrument – and, as a corollary, for booking us to headline said stage on Saturday 31 August (marking, rather conveniently, the climax to our festival season).

We’ll be joining main stage headliners Mark Ronson, The Fratellis, and DJ Yoda in rocking the living heck out of the Essex countryside at an event that has, in its short history, grown faster than Willow Ufgood on a bucket of steroids (…was that in bad taste? I think it was. Ah well, it’s written now. And you can’t just erase blog content, everyone knows that). The Piano Bar has developed a glorious reputation for sofas-and-cider singalong charm over the years, and we’re looking forward to heading up the bill on the Saturday night with a set of acoustically-tinged piano-led pop goodness.

The Piano Has Landed

Unlike most festival stages, the Piano Bar is centred around its very own in-house grand piano, which works out quite well for me in that it throws the emphasis onto my instrument. It’s a well-known fact in rock ‘n’ roll that everyone hates keyboard players, and this is of course the reason that we’re normally shoved to the back of the stage with the guitar amp and the bassist’s mum and left to collect dust while the lead singer hoovers up all the groupies. But not at the Piano Bar, my friends. Oh no. The ivories get their own podium in this marquee.

If you’re planning to attend Brownstock 2013 (and you can buy tickets here), come join us at 7pm on Saturday 31st. Dat shit gon be off da hook.

Just get there early if you want space on the sofa…

British bands in America: our USA highlights

16 July 2013

British bands in AmericaBritish bands in America have, if I’m honest, a bit of an easy time of it. The fabulously successful exports of our forebears (chiefly The Beatles, who basically did all the hard work for us) mean we are always greeted with open arms when we land Stateside, and as a result we have many happy memories of our time gigging around the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia area.

We’ve been touring to the United States since 2006 and it’s always been an absolute blast. In celebration of our 2013 USA tour kicking off in one month, here – in no particular order – are our Top Five American Tour highlights:

1. Two gigs, two continents, one day

In 2009 we played a gig in Southampton in the early hours of Sunday morning, then flew to America and played Union Square in New York less than twenty hours later. It was ruddy mental, and possibly one of the greatest days of my life.

Read about this in Chris’ USA tour diary

2. Starbucks, Fifth Avenue

In 2007 we won Best Pop/Rock Act at the UK Indy Awards. At the time we were on tour in the States; specifically, knocking back a round of lattes at Starbucks on Fifth Avenue. We exploded with rapturous joy at the news, and somewhat confused a roomful of New York businessmen. ‘I’m sorry,’ said Tony, by way of explanation – ‘We’re British’.

Read about this in Chris’ USA tour diary

3. Signing the WXPN wall of fame

We were lucky enough a few years back to perform live on Philadelphia’s WXPN radio station, and afterwards were invited to autograph their rather splendid wall of fame, leaving our scribbled signatures next-door to the many dazzling musical luminaries who had come before us. Marvellous.

4. Astoria Park, New York

On our last trip to America, we headlined New York’s Astoria Park for the first time. It was a magical evening, set against the backdrop of the East River, and we were lucky enough to play to a 2,000-strong crowd. Can’t wait to get back there in a month’s time!

Read our New York Daily News press coverage

5. Sandwichageddon at Wawa

We don’t really go to America for the music. Not really. It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that we do. No, The Lightyears fly to America every year or so to eat ourselves to death on the extraordinary comestible wonders of the Wawa Food Hut. (I’d also like to enter ancillary votes here for Taco Bell and Wendy’s, both of which make me weep with their beauty.)

Read about this in Chris’ USA tour diary

Chris Lightyear

Click here for more details on The Lightyears’ 2013 USA Tour 

Click to buy tickets for Jamey’s House Of Music (Philadelphia) and Riverton Circle Of Friends (NJ). All other shows are free entry.

Astoria Park Concert Series to host LYs…

10 July 2013

Astoria ParkWe’ve played quite a number of gigs in New York over the years, but the Astoria Park Concert Series in 2010 was a real highlight.

We rocked up at the venue not knowing quite what to expect. It was our first time performing in Astoria, so we had no idea what kind of audience would turn up. It was a beautiful warm night, primed for live music, and the setting was quite spectacular. The iconic bridges, the trees, the sun setting over the East River – glorious.

And then an amazing thing happened. Out of nowhere, two thousand people flooded in. The good people of Astoria, ranging in age from 3 to about 73, came in their hundreds to perch on the hill and watch us rattle through a varied set of Lightyears originals and a few high-energy covers. We were joined onstage that night by a couple of special guests – NYC councillor Peter Vallone Jr, who hopped on the bass guitar for a spirited rendition of The Monkees’ I’m A Believer, and our good friend Ant Law, a superb jazz guitarist from the UK who was in town with the touring Michael Jackson musical Thriller.

A rambunctious time was had by all, and afterwards we were overwhelmed (as we always are in the States) by the enthusiasm of the music fans who came up to speak to us. A few days later the New York Daily News ran a double-page feature on the gig – take a look here.

In light of all this, you won’t be surprised to hear that we’ve been itching to get back. We’ve been busy having babies, completing doctorates and writing novels since 2010 so it’s taken a little longer than we’d planned, but on Thursday 15 August we will be kicking off our 2013 American Tour with another headline show at Astoria Park. Entry is free, and the show starts at 7.30pm. You can find more details on our GIGS page.

Hope to see some of you there. I myself plan to pack my entire body in ice in a probably futile attempt at combatting the insane heat you folks have out there. It’s a little too much for our pasty British constitutions, I’m afraid…

Chris Lightyear

The LYs return to Burlington Amphitheater…

2 July 2013

Burlington AmphitheaterBurlington Amphitheater in Westampton, New Jersey, is one of our favourite places to play in America.

We have an interesting history there. Our first booking was in July 2009, when we were scheduled to perform outside in the Amphitheater – coinciding, as it happened, with one of New Jersey’s famous mid-summer thunderstorms. The night before, when the storm was predicted, our US tour manager Jon warned us that if the clouds did open there was no way we’d be performing outside. I couldn’t help but wonder whether this was a little over-dramatic – I mean, we’ve played at a wet Glastonbury several times, and rain didn’t stop play there (I remember one year when the water was gushing into the tent and cascading onto my piano). Last year, when we headlined the Queen’s Jubilee gig in Goring, it rained all day, and people still turned up in their hundreds with thermos flasks, waterproofs and umbrellas.

Thing is, I thought all that before I’d seen American rain. GEE WHIZZ. As I explain in the video below (taken from the Burlington gig in question, in which we were moved inside to the adjacent library), American rain is nothing like the tepid drizzle we’re used to in England. It’s movie blockbuster rain, and it means to destroy you. It leaves golfball-sized dents in cars, breaches riverbanks and flattens livestock.

And so we were moved inside to the library, which still proved a wonderful experience and in fact acted as a natural precursor to our show at London’s Westminster Library earlier this year (libraries are unquestionably the new rock ‘n’ roll). Then, on our 2010 American Tour, the weather held and we were lucky enough to finally perform outside, once again to a fantastic sold-out crowd. Here’s hoping for the same when we return to Burlington Amphitheater next month, marking both our third performance there and the end of our 2013 US Tour. Looking forward to seeing lots of our friends and fans from the area – should be a very special night.

But if it rains again, I will be hiding under a table.

*Our show at Burlington on Sunday 18 August is FREE entry and open to all ages. Visit the GIGS page for more info, or click here for the official listing.*

Our Top 5 Glastonbury Festival Memories

25 June 2013

Glastonbury Festival MemoriesIt’s Glasto week, children, but I’m not going. Boo-hoo.

I couldn’t get tickets, and Mr Eavis’ invitation for The Lightyears to bump the Stones off their headline slot must have got lost in the post, because we’re not playing this year either.

However, to mark the occasion I thought I’d run down my list of The Lightyears’ Top Five Glastonbury Festival Memories. And if you’re going this year, can I recommend the warm cider? It’s ruddy brilliant.

Blagging our first Glasto gig on the festival bandstand

Back in 2005 we were desperate to play the world’s greatest festival, but didn’t have any leads. So we squeezed a busking drum, acoustic guitar and battery-powered keyboard into our luggage and wandered around the site sporadically busking until someone gave us a gig – on the Glastonbury Festival bandstand.

Glastonbury Festival MemoriesHeadlining the Green Fuse Stage after 400 gin and tonics

Soon graduating from the bandstand, we were booked for a Saturday night set on the Green Fuse Stage that started at around half past twelve. Assuming nobody would be there we drank steadily all day, neglecting to realise that since we were coming on after Coldplay finished on the main stage, 150,000 people would be stumbling about pissed, looking for entertainment. We arrived at Green Fuse somewhat worse-for-wear to find the marquee absolutely rammed full of people, which was a bit of a shock. After desperately sobering up, however, we proceeded to deliver a rambunctious set of enthusiastic acoustic ditties that seemed to go down rather well. (Something really gross happened at this gig, but Tony would kill me if I published it on the web. I will happily tell anyone in person though, because it’s really bloody funny.)

Driving overnight from the studio to the stage

In 2007 we drove to Glastonbury at 3am in the morning after finishing in the studio with Sting’s producer, Hugh Padgham. Hugh simply couldn’t understand why anyone would do this, which I think is fair enough. We smashed up the underside of our car on the way down, and had to sleep in the boot that night – only for 45 minutes though, because we didn’t arrive until 7am and were opening the bill at the Small World Stage just a couple of hours later. Whisky was involved.

Glastonbury Festival MemoriesWatching the sunset to the sound of Leonard Cohen

Glastonbury 2008 was a truly wonderful weekend in which we played two gigs and saw some absolutely belting performances (Crowded House and John Mayer deserve special mention). The weekend ended with the sun setting over the Stone Circle while the strains of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah floated across Worthy Farm. Absolutely magical. Read the full story here.

Disguising a festival hangover live on BBC Radio

We got home from Glasto at around 4.30am on Monday morning, and took immediately to our beds. Just a few hours later I was woken by my phone, and when I answered I was told I was live on BBC Radio Berkshire – who had apparently called to ask how our weekend had been. I was a little dazed, but managed to shift effortlessly into anecdote mode: “Well,” I replied, as enigmatically as possible. “It goes a little something like this…”.

Enjoy the festival, folks!

The LYs & The Riverton Circle Of Friends

19 June 2013

Riverton Circle Of FriendsThe Lightyears grew up in a quiet village on the Oxfordshire/Berkshire border called Goring-on-Thames. The band has spent most of its professional life in London, but I reckon we’ll always think of Goring as ‘where we come from’. That’s right – Eminem has the mean streets of Detroit, Oasis have a violent father on a Manchester council estate, and we have the bake sales and organic butchers of Goring-on-Thames. You do the math.

Back in 2006, on our first American tour, The Lightyears’ tour bus (nb. not actually a bus) rolled into a quiet New Jersey community called Riverton, a small and exceptionally pretty town on the Delaware River with grand old post-colonial houses, an incredible community spirit and just about the warmest and most welcoming people in the world. People actually leave their doors unlocked there. In short, it’s about as close to an American equivalent of Goring as it’s possible to be and, inevitably, soon established itself as The Lightyears’ second home.

When we’re on tour in the States if we’re not in New York we generally base ourselves in Riverton, where like the weary travellers we are we’re always offered a place to stay and a veritable mountain of delicious all-American food. I have eaten corn-on-the-cob there that would make grown men weep – it’s a very special place.

The Riverton Circle Of Friends Concert Series

This year we are very lucky to be headlining at Riverton’s legendary Circle Of Friends concert series on Saturday 17 August. COF was set up in 2009 by music lovers in the area to bring artists direct to the people, and since then they’ve held many amazing events in a number of truly unusual venues including a pump house, the workshop of a yacht builder (the band played with two large unfinished sailboats behind them), a yoga studio and a tattoo parlour (that’s “parlor” to all you American folks). The COF website puts it like this:

Circle of Friends brings musicians and music lovers together, organizing and promoting house concerts to create homey, intimate performances… Every event offers live music, good conversation and a chance to meet new friends.

We can’t wait… it should be a really special show. Tickets are available now (click here to buy yours) in a rather nifty two-tier system – $10 for a basic ticket (which supports us), and $19 for a sustaining ticket (which supports Circle Of Friends as well). This show will be unique on our 2013 tour, with its intimate atmosphere, acoustic set-up and idyllic location, so make sure you don’t miss out. There will definitely be exclusive readings from my novel, and I expect the band will throw in a few curveballs on the set front.

Since 2007, we have had our very own Lightyears plaque in Riverton, erected by the legendary Maureen on her famous front porch to commemorate the time we performed there for the town’s annual Treasure Day. Bowie may have his blue plaque off Regent Street, and Keith Moon his commemoration above the old Marquee Club in Soho, but we’re pretty happy with our wooden tribute on Maureen’s Porch in Riverton, New Jersey. And every now and again it calls us home.

Chris Lightyear

Buy tickets for The Lightyears at Circle Of Friends (Saturday 17 August)

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