News & Insights 5 March 2008

My eyes are trying to escape backwards into my cranial cavity

Tuesday 4 March, 5.30pm (Old Jameson Whiskey Distillery, Dublin):
We are in Dublin to play a gig at the launch party for State Magazine, Ireland’s new music publication. The party’s being held at the Old Jameson Whiskey Distillery, which at some point in the recent past has been converted into a rather swanky functions venue.

We arrive at the place at around 5.30 and, as I step inside, the full extent of tonight’s potential carnage properly dawns on me. This is a music industry party. In a whiskey distillery. In Ireland. And the booze is free all night. These are circumstances in which a Mormon would struggle to remain sober.

We nip across the courtyard to the local restaurant to grab some nosh and a few beers before the gig starts. The owner comes over to our table to serve us and, I have to say, she’s behaving a bit oddly. She keeps dropping her pen and mixing up her words and even spills a beer at one point. We think nothing more of it until, after we’ve finished the meal and are about to leave, she scuttles over to our table clutching a menu and says, flustered, “I’m really really sorry, but… well… I know you’re famous and I’ve seen you on the TV and I was wondering if I could have your autograph?”.

I’m trying to work out what she’s referring to. I mean, I was on Match Of The Day when I was 6 in the crowd for the Marlow Vs Plymouth FA Cup Draw, but I get the feeling that’s not what she’s talking about. Anyhow, we sign the menu for her and she promises to frame it and hang it in the restaurant.

Back at the venue, we settle down at our instruments and get ready to start the gig. Our brief tonight from Phil (the Editor of State Magazine) is to play a set of witty yet non-obtrusive “Easy Listening Heavy Metal” that will amuse the journos without being too overbearing. Oh, and he has used the phrase NO JAZZ more than once. He hates jazz. And so, in response, we have prepared an instrumental medley of tongue-in-cheek rock covers played in a lounge style. Here’s a taster – a chirpy Love Will Tear Us Apart blends effortlessly into Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of via a cheekily nonchalant rendition of Enter Sandman by Metallica.

Predictably, things are running a bit late and as a result our one-hour set turns into two hours. We’re not bothered though because the fantastic bar-staff have been enthusiastically plying us with whiskey and vol-au-vents all night and by this point we’re really starting to hit our stride. An extended jam uniting a piano interpretation of Sweet Child O’ Mine with Daft Punk’s One More Time blends gradually into our closing number, which sees The Real Slim Shady rubbing shoulders with Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog played half-time in a swing rhythm. Sweet.

By the time I come offstage I have, to borrow a phrase off Tony, overdone it a little on the sherbets. The problem is, of course, that when things are free there’s really very little choice other than to wretchedly abuse said complimentary items and we all know what that leads to. In the back of my mind somewhere I’m aware that we’re flying back to London early tomorrow morning for another gig but that seems like such a ludicrous idea that, when the launch party wraps up, the only sensible course of action seems to be to keep the good times going and stave off the arrival of the new dawn with a round of Guinnesses back in our hotel bar. Will I regret this at 7.30 tomorrow morning? Nah. It’ll be dandy.  

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Oh Lord. Oh, sweet Lord and the heavens. It’s 7.30 in the morning and, yep, that’s right, I do indeed regret that. My eyes are trying to escape backwards into my cranial cavity. No time for moping though. Must catch plane. 

Via some tremendous miracle, several hours later we’re striding across the tarmac at Gatwick, still alive and, I think, with most internal organs intact. The next episode in The Lightyears Saga is a mildly hellish rush-hour trip into central London to get to sound-check in time for our gig at the Rock Garden in Covent Garden.

The things we do for our band, eh? Just as well there are plenty of perks. I mean, when I’m kicking back on a gold-plated, caviar-filled lilo in the guitar-shaped swimming pool of my private jet-shaped mansion in the Phillippines with the cryogenically-resurrected Hendrix, Presley and Morrison a few years from now, I can very much imagine looking back on this time and thinking “I miss those days, back when I used to have carry my own keyboard around, dress myself and buy milk like a normal person. In fact, I was probably happier then than I am now”. And then Jim Morrison would give me a head massage and probably strum a lute.

Anyhow, I digress. Tonight’s set, we decide, needs to start slowly, on account of our fragile and hungover state. We kick off with Fine, which we haven’t played in a while, and by the end of that we’re ready to tackle something more energetic. She’s The One wakes us up and takes us through Beat Alive, Sleepless, In Black Eyes (another one we haven’t played in ages), Filmstar, This House Will Burn and finally Emily.

On finishing our set, we leave the stage to find the promoter Jeremy (who is, incidentally, Irish) approaching us with a congratulatory round of drinks – three neat whiskeys.

God bless the Irish sense of humour.

Chris Lightyear
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