Our Top 20 Moments Of 2009

16 December 2009

Christmas Time is here again and there’s enormous excitement in the air. There’s an outside chance that Rage Against The Machine will beat the X Factor to Number One on Sunday and the weather-man says that snow’s a-coming. Things literally couldn’t be any better.

We thought we’d add to the general feeling of goodwill and festivity by recounting our favourite and most memorable experiences from the past year. Most of them – whether in London, Cape Town or the USA – involved the support of our fans and we’d like to personally thank everyone who has helped us make 2009 one of our best years yet. You guys rule.

So here, in no particular order, are The Lightyears’ Top 20 Moments Of 2009:

1. Stepping out onstage at Wembley Stadium for the first time in front of 45,000 people

2. Winning over an audience of leather-clad Norwegian bikers at the Speedway Cafe in Cape Town

3. Performing a barbershop medley of British seaside tunes in front of the British Ambassador in Seoul

4. Writing a song for a national ad campaign (“Come With Me” is released on Universal Records in January)

5. Spotting our faces in train stations and on the side of buses

6. Performing for a full-house of fans, friends and family at The Lightyears’ Christmas Party

7. Playing to a crowd of thousands on a hot summer’s evening in Union Square, Manhattan

8. Working with top producers Bacon & Quarmby (David Bowie, Finley Quaye, Sugababes) on the studio release of “Come With Me”

9. Watching South Africa’s foremost FHM model Roxy Louw stage-dive into a crowd of boogying revelers at our Cape Town Tens gig

10. Being invited back to Wembley Stadium

11. Drinking Pina Coladas by the pool at the Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town

12. Seeing ourselves on TV (click here)

13. Touring the country with Josh’s Band

14. Finding out we’ve been immortalised on canvas!

15. Spotting The Lightyears in the New York Post

16. Dressing up as intergalactic space rockstars for a Forbidden Planet tribute gig

17. Selling out our latest album London, England on the US Tour

18. Celebrating the end of the Korean Tour with a Lightyears night on the tiles

19. Appearing on the same bill as Diversity, winners of Britain’s Got Talent

20. Partying with the LYs American Fan Club in Riverton, New Jersey!

“Hello Wembley!!”

28 September 2009

The LYs - calm on the surface, bricking it underneathSATURDAY 12 SEPTEMBER, 9.30am (Wembley Stadium, London):
This is it.

The big one.

The motherload.

Wembley. Flipping. Stadium.

Today we are performing on the pitch at Wembley in front of an estimated crowd of around 45,000 people. Once we’re done, Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity will take to the stage and, shortly afterwards, Saracens and Northampton Saints will kick off what is likely to be one of this season’s best-attended rugby union matches.

So no pressure then.

On entering the mighty bowels of the UK’s most iconic venue, we are led through what turns out to be the least impressive part of the new Wembley. The catacombs underneath the stands have the unmistakable aura of an NCP car-park and are an unassuming epilogue to the moment at which you emerge from the tunnel onto the famous pitch and cannot help but gawp at the spectacular, looming grandeur of this 90,000-capacity stadium. The sun is shining intensely, the pitch is immaculate and there is an unmistakable feeling of nervous anticipation in the air. We all stand pitch-side, humbled by the experience, exchanging silent eye contact. This is the biggest thing we’ve ever done.

After sound-checking to an entirely empty stadium (which, take it from me, is a bizarre experience), we head inside to get changed into our carefully-chosen performance threads.

Tony heads straight for the van. “We can get changed in the van guys – I’ve put up curtains and everything”.

Now, in this band, we’ve always felt it’s very important to keep our feet on the ground, even when success of stadium-sized proportions beckons. I can’t help but feel that this, however, is taking that philosophy a little far. Plus there’s no way that Dave Grohl would express pride in curtains. Ever.

“Tony, mate… we’re playing Wembley Stadium. We’ve got a dressing room. You don’t have to get changed in a Transit.”

Tony looks almost crestfallen. His home-made curtains have been spurned. He’s a man of simple pleasures (quiche, cricket on the telly, Radio 4, vegetarian scotch eggs) and I think that being given a dressing room that a couple of days ago may well have been occupied by the England football team is perhaps just a bit too fancy for him.

Why you should never give the LYs their own dressing roomIndeed, when we’re shown to our dressing room, the contrast is enormous. You could fit thirty enormous rugby players in here and still have room for twenty crates of London Pride. Which I suppose is the point. We scatter our belongings around the room in an attempt to claim it as our own, take a few pictures of ourselves sitting beneath clothes hooks pretending to be sportsmen and generally do our best to keep our minds occupied in the nail-biting hours leading up to the band’s most high profile performance yet.

We’re standing pitch-side waiting to go onstage. Wembley is filling up and we have a healthy contingent of Lightyears fans filling up Block 105 in the north-east corner of the stadium. There is something undeniably surreal about this whole experience. Are we really about to play Wembley?!

George on the big screenWe’ve planned a set of upbeat, crowd-pleasing covers designed to kick the event off with a bang. The organisers want a party atmosphere and it’s our job to make sure the party starts as it means to go on. As the MC announces our performance and a huge picture of us appears on the stadium’s two big screens, I nod at George. This is definitely happening. We step up onstage, there’s a roar from the crowd, and we launch into our opening number, The Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger”.

In a move to keep the set fresh and interesting, we’ve choreographed a few instrument changes and I’m starting the gig on guitar, leaving George free to perform the lead vocals. We’ve never done this before so it’s a bit of an experiment, but I have to admit I’m loving it. I look across at Tony, who has the world’s biggest grin on his face, and mouth the phrase “We’re playing Wembley!”. He beams back at me. It’s pay-day.

LYs fans cheering us onSaracens have billed today’s match as a “Family Day Out” and so there’s an incredibly wide age-range in attendance. The crowd respond very warmly to our set and we’ve been careful to include a wide variety of tunes so that there’s something for everyone – Jackson Five, Abba, Kings Of Leon, Queen and so on. During “Mamma Mia” I whip out my vintage 1980s Roland AX-1 (or “keytar”, for those who aren’t fluent in keyboard-speak – which is basically anybody who can claim to possess even a shred of self-respect). This is essentially a keyboard shaped like a guitar that enables frustrated prima donnas such as myself to get out from behind the piano and strut about at the front of the stage with all the other posers. In theory the keytar is just about the most kitsch instrument in music, and as a result I really shouldn’t have been allowed to use it in combination with an Abba song. Too late now, however. In truth I just wanted to count myself amongst the presumably very select group of musicians who can say they’ve played a keytar at Wembley. Keep your eyes peeled for the Facebook group. 😉

That's me. At Wembley. Golly.After a short break, we return to the stage armed with around 80 pom-pom waving cheerleaders. I’ve been looking forward to this part. This is where we perform our version of The Beatles’ “Twist & Shout” whilst The Sensations and The Mini-Sensations (Saracens’ very own cheerleading groups) shake their thang pitch-side. It’s quite a spectacle, believe me. We follow this with our closing number, “500 Miles”, accompanied by world-renowned Crowd Conductor Steve Barnett, bedecked in bright red coattails and a top hat.

As the song is drawing to a close and it falls to me to address the crowd one last time, a cheeky impulse overcomes me. Normally this is the point in the set where you say “Thanks for having us, have a great day, enjoy the camel racing etc” but I can’t help but feel that that’s a little bit predictable. Plus this is after all a sporting occasion and I know how much sports fans love a little bit of gentle mickey-taking. So, instead, I say this: “Ladies & Gentlemen, would the owner of a green and yellow Northampton Saints team coach please make their way to the front desk. Your vehicle is double-parked.”

A packed crowd watch the LYs on the big screenI was rather pleased with that.

As we stand pitch-side and watch Diversity wow the crowd with their second dance-number, I look around at the guys and find myself experiencing a heartwarming “Happy Days” moment. We’ve worked really hard to get here. Here’s hoping it won’t be too long before we back…

Chris Lightyear

First footage of the LYs at Wembley

21 September 2009

The first footage of our performance at Wembley Stadium is now online on the Saracens website. Sarries TV have published a 4-minute video with highlights of The Big Day Out also featuring Diversity (winners of Britain’s Got Talent), behind-the-scenes footage and fan reactions.

Click here to view the video (click on “The Big Day Out”).

Watch this space for more media from the day including photos, videos and my Wembley tour diary.

Wembley Stadium gig a success

14 September 2009

On Saturday afternoon we fulfilled a lifelong dream and performed at Wembley Stadium.

We played on the pitch just before kick-off at the Guinness Premiership match between Saracens and Northampton Saints (final score: 19-16 to the Saracens. Woo-hoo!) and the official match attendance was recorded at 44,832. Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity took to the stage after us with a typically eye-popping routine.

The crowd responded really well to our set and seeing ourselves up on the big screen was quite a thrill. We even appeared briefly on ITV’s “The Rugby Show” yesterday as part of their highlights from the match!

Keep an eye on the website over the next week or so for photos from the event as well as my Wembley tour diary, recording our onstage – and backstage – experiences from performing at the UK’s most iconic venue.

Buy your tickets for LYs at Wembley Stadium

6 September 2009

The LYs at London Road Stadium earlier this yearWe are playing Wembley Stadium this Saturday 12 September. Also appearing are Diversity, winners of Britain’s Got Talent. Tickets are just £10 – buy yours now by clicking here!

**THE LIGHTYEARS ARE ONSTAGE AT 1.30PM**. Gates open at 12.30pm.  Make sure you get there nice and early because Wembley’s a very tight ship and will definitely run on time.

For this criminally small investment you will also get top-class rugby in the form of a Guinness Premiership rugby match (Saracens Vs Northampton Saints), a tug of war, camel racing and all kinds of shenanigans. What a bargain.

Click here to read about our last stadium gig, performing for Manchester United at London Road Stadium.

See you there!

Lightyears to play Wembley Stadium

24 July 2009

The LYs playing London Road Stadium in 2008We’re very excited to announce that we’ve just been booked to perform at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 12 September. 

The Lightyears will be appearing on the centre circle of the Wembley pitch immediately before kick-off at the Guinness Premiership match between Saracens and Northampton Saints. Also performing that day are Diversity, winners of Britain’s Got Talent, and Goldfish, one of South Africa’s hottest acts.

We aim to get as many Lightyears fans down on the day as possible – and at a tenner a ticket, you’d be craaaaaaazy not to join us.

That’s right – for just £10 (or £5 if you’re under 16) you get The Lightyears, Diversity, Goldfish, a premiership rugby match and the legendary Wembley atmosphere. All in all, an amazing family day out.

Click here to buy your tickets now from Ticketmaster.  

Saracens RFC have massive plans for this season and hiring Wembley is just the beginning. With an ’09/’10 squad featuring Springboks, Italians, Fijians, an All Black scrum-half, the current English captain and several home-grown emerging internationals, the Sarries plan to appeal to as wide an audience as possible in the coming season. In fact, on 12 September the club intend to fill the 91,000-seater stadium to capacity and smash all previous attendance records for a rugby union match.

Imagine it now – a summer’s day, an iconic stadium, top class rugby and top class entertainment. What could be better! We look forward to seeing you all there…