News & Insights 6 May 2006

Going head-to-head with Liberty X

Saturday 6 May 2006, 6.30am (Lightyears HQ, Chiswick, London):
We don’t have to be in Aberystwyth until 3pm, which should mean not leaving London until about 10 in the morning. Except that Tony has decided we have to set off at 7.30am in order to make it to the Red Lion in Llandyfaelog by midday to watch Crystal Palace in the Championship Play-Off Semi-Finals. And so the day does not start well for me – I care not for Crystal Palace, and I care not for Llandyfaelog. But being in a band is all about compromise, so I put on a magnanimous face and get in the car. Could be a long day.

Saturday 6 May, 12.30pm (The Red Lion, Llandyfaelog, Wales):
Llandyfaelog is not exactly what you’d describe as a metropolis. Or even a polis. I’ve heard that scientists at a university in London have recently developed a perfect sonic vacuum, contained within an isolated room coated in state-of-the-art sound-proofing, which purports to be the quietest place on earth. I bet it’s got nothing on Llandyfaelog. So far the only signs of life we’ve encountered are a couple of sparrows and an ill-proportioned dog.

Soon though, we happen upon the pub and step gingerly inside. Tony has chosen this far-flung corner of Wales because George Whitfield, an old band-mate of his, lives just round the corner. George is yet to make an appearance, however, so we’re still on our own. There is NOBODY in the pub. Indeed, a quick glance around the main room reveals a few children’s toys, a very small television and seemingly no bar – it’s as if we’re in somebody’s front room. In fact, as time wears on I become convinced that it is somebody’s front room. That is until a big bloke in a football shirt turns up and heads through a door we hadn’t previously noticed, returning shortly afterwards with a pint of lager. This guy turns out to be our only fellow punter for the ensuing two hours. Which may be down to him being the only permanent resident of Llandyfaelog.

Saturday 6 May, 1.45pm (The Red Lion, Llandyfaelog, Wales):
The football hasn’t gone well, at least not for Crystal Palace, and so our thoughts turn to food. Tony has promised us a bountiful, rustic pub lunch in return for dragging us out of bed at the crack of dawn to watch his team lose 3-0. You can imagine our consternation, then, when the landlord appears with two plates of stale Tesco value sandwiches containing a pink substance approximating ham and a few pieces of rather sad-looking cheese. And so, with our hunger unsated and Tony looking markedly sulky, we press on to Aberystwyth.

Saturday 6 May, 11.45pm (May Ball, Aberystwyth University, Wales):
It’s nearly midnight, which is when we’re due to start our set. There are at least five stages of music at tonight’s event, and we’re headlining the Marquee Stage, starting about fifteen minutes after Liberty X kick off in the Union Auditorium. A lot of people have headed in to see them, which could affect our numbers. As luck would have it, however, they don’t prove too popular with the crowd and someone in the audience manages to smoke-bomb them before they’ve reached their second song – as a result, the fire alarms go off and hundreds of people come streaming out of the Union in a mass evacuation. This is our chance. Tony OKs it with the soundman and we jump onstage fifteen minutes early. By the time we’ve hit the closing chords of our opening number, we’ve managed to poach nearly a thousand fans from Liberty X and the Marquee is absolutely heaving with people. It’s a great gig and is absolutely packed from beginning to end.

Chesney Hawkes is headlining in the Union at the same time as we’re headlining the Marquee, so we miss his set – but we do get to meet him afterwards. I’m surprised by how thin he is, and to be honest he looks like he could do with a good square meal. Nice bloke though. Liberty X haven’t stayed to party with the hardcore, which is perhaps not surprising in the circumstances. Other celebrities kicking around include the Bodyrockers, who you may remember from their 2005 Top Ten hit “I Like The Way You Move”, and Tabby, the Irish guy from X Factor. Now, I don’t wish to propound Irish stereotypes, but this guy has nicked all our booze! When we return to our dressing room after the show, the beer and the vodka has all disappeared, leaving only a half-drunk bottle of Diet Coke and a cheese and tomato sandwich. Since his dressing room is next to ours, and he’s totally plastered, the evidence speaks for itself…

Sunday 7 May, 5.30am (St Andrews Court Hotel, Seafront, Aberystwyth):
We’ve partied hard, and the sun is just coming up. If we want to capitalise on the hotel’s cooked breakfast, which we do, we need to be out of bed in just three hours. Urghsadflsg. Time for some kip.

Sunday 7 May, 1.30pm (M4, England, Civilisation):
It takes a long time to get out of Wales. Aberystwyth is further away from a motorway than any other town in Britain, including John O’Groats. Luckily, we’re still trading on the energy from this morning’s Full English, which, extraordinarily, we all managed to get out of bed for. Once back on English soil, we sing a hearty version of “Land Of Hope & Glory” in celebration of our return home. We have officially conquered Wales and colonised it in the name of LIGHTYEARS. Rock on.  

Chris Lightyear

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