ben folds

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…

The Piano-led Power-Pop Revolution!

28 July 2009

Proof that playing keyboard-led pop makes you more attractive

Top-dollar Philadelphia act Jukebox The Ghost have just been added to the bill for our Union Square gig this Thursday 30 July. This is awesome news, for this jaunty piano-led power-pop 3-piece (sound familiar anyone?!) are one of the finest acts we’ve ever played with.

Jukebox supported us at the Clapham Grand back in 2007 whilst gigging in the UK and since then have toured with Ben Folds and gone from strength to strength. Check them out here.

If you’re in Manhattan, make sure you get down to Union Square at 5pm this Thursday for a rare opportunity to catch Jukebox and The Lightyears on the same stage…

The Things We Do For The Queen

11 June 2009

It's funny how enough crystal-meth can make anybody smileWhen asked to perform an a cappella, barbershop-inspired medley of classic British seaside songs, most indie-rock bands would respond in the following manner: “Are you crazy? Of course not. We are enigmatic, sexual beings. We are totemic idols for the baying masses. We want to be revered the world over for our raw, lithe magnetism. Never would we jeopardise the integrity of our reputation with such foolish and trivial japery.”  

The Lightyears, on the other hand, responded something like this: “YIPPEEEEEE!”

And so it was that, two weeks ago in Seoul, South Korea, we found ourselves performing barbershop versions of “Summer Holiday”, “Beautiful Briny Sea” and “I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside” in front of the British Ambassador and over 500 esteemed guests at The Queen’s Birthday Ball dressed in red and white striped blazers, bow ties and boaters. It was quite a spectacle. Expect it to turn up on YouTube sometime in the coming weeks and possibly threaten our entire future in the fickle arena of rock and roll.

Mind you, Chris Martin once said said that “Rock and roll is doing what you want” – and we certainly wanted to do this. It wasn’t easy, but not even the constant threat of nuclear armageddon could throw us off our course. 

Funnily enough, when we arrived home we discovered that, as is so often his habit, Ben Folds had beaten us to it on this occasion. His recent release, entitled “University A Cappella”, features many of his best-loved songs performed live by college a cappella troupes. Very interesting stuff, especially if you’re already a BF fan. Read about it here

And as for us, prancing about in foreign countries dressed up like a cross between Dick Van Dyke and a stick of rock, well, on that matter I have but one thing left to say… Integrity? Schmintegrity.

Sometimes you’ve just got to slap on a candy-striped boater and make like it’s 1924.

My very own Rock Supergroup

20 March 2009

Writing consecutive blogs about Guns N Roses and Michael Jackson has got me thinking about my rock supergroup. To be taken seriously in muso circles, every self-respecting, self-aggrandising rock fan should have their own supergroup, just as they really ought to be able to reel off their Top Five “Track One Side Ones”*** on request.

I’ll cut to the chase. Whilst I’m on the subject of MJ and GnR, the King Of Pop (circa 1987) would take on vocal duties whilst Slash would provide lead guitar. As tempted as I would be to include Axl in the line-up as well, I believe that supergroup regulations forbid any two members to have come from the same original band and, in any case, you can’t have two frontmen. Well, unless you’re The Beatles. Or The Libertines. Anyhow, I digress. Since the band would OBVIOUSLY be piano-led, I’d have to employ Jerry Lee Lewis on the ivories and have Ben Folds waiting in the wings to fill his shoes when the inevitable happens. Tim Commerford from Rage Against The Machine would play bass and Zeppelin‘s John Bonham (resurrected) would be my stick-man.

And so, I hear you cry, what kind of music would this pure pop/hard rock/hip-hop metal fusion/50s throwback leviathan pump out? Well, exactly that – heavy riffing, face-melting, boogie woogie hook-laden pop with wicked dance moves.

And I shall call them “Dangerous Killing In The Name Of A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On Heaven’s Door” (yes, it works).

Coming to a stadium near you.

Chris Lightyear

ps. please do comment back with your own supergroups and we’ll see if we can out-do each other like Top Trumps.

*** “Black Dog” from Led Zeppelin IV, “Taxman” from Revolver, “Jackson Cannery” from Ben Folds Five, “La Breeze” from Simian’s We Are Your Friends and “Slam” from Pendulum’s Hold Your Colour (if you discount the 53-second opening prelude, which for these purposes I do)