glastonbury festival

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.*

The Top Five Craziest Things We’ve Ever Done

26 July 2012

Stage diving at our first ever Cape Town gig.Muse bassist Chris Wolstenholme has come out in the NME today confessing to his recent battle with alcoholism.

He was smashed all day every day, apparently, his habit soon taking its toll on his health, his family and on the band. He’s now fixed the problem – and even penned some tunes about it that appear on Muse’s next album – but this got me thinking about just, you know, just how damn crazy it can be when you’re living the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

I know, I know – you look at me and you go ‘there’s a guy who has done some crazy-ass, rock ‘n’ roll shit in his time’, and you’d be right. I’m out of control. I once went on tour WITHOUT A CLIPBOARD. Seriously. I mean, it was a mistake… a gross lapse of concentration… but once the weeping had subsided, I found a way round it (small notebook).

Anyway, in honour of Wolstenholme’s triumphant victory over alcoholism, I thought I’d present to you…


(Watch out, ‘cos they’re ruddy crazy.)

On tour in South Korea in 2011, LYs drummer Tony partied for twelve hours straight on a giant mushroom. No, not a magic mushroom – a polystyrene one he’d nicked from the gig we’d just played (don’t ask). He held onto it all night, dragging it through two clubs and three bars, eventually admitting defeat when a misguided attempt to lob it onto the roof of a brothel went horribly wrong. Naughty boy.

Tony will kick my ass for publishing this photo. Totally worth it though.

Presented with the problem of how to get from a gig at Wembley Stadium to a booking in Bagshot in less than forty minutes, extensive research led from helicopter (no landing pad at the stadium – lame) via teleportation (technology yet to be developed) to the wonder of Virgin Limobikes. This was literally the coolest thing I have EVER done. Mind you, my driver told me that the last artist he’d had on the back of his bike was Cheryl Cole and, bearing that in mind, I suspected he may have been slightly disappointed with that day’s cargo (it didn’t help that I was whimpering with fear, obviously).

Oh my god, it's James Dean!! Wait, no. It's just Tony.

In 2007, we were lucky enough to work with legendary, multi-million selling producer Hugh Padgham, responsible for massive hits such as ‘In The Air Tonight’ and ‘Every Breath You Take’. He’s used to working with Sting, McCartney and Elton John, is Hugh, so he was a bit taken aback when, at 3am in the morning after a hefty mixing session on our track ‘Sleepless’, we downed tools, jumped into our battered Mitsubishi Spacewagon (that’s right – Spacewagon) and drove all the way to Somerset for a string of gigs at Glastonbury Festival. On the way we hit some debris and buggered the car, arrived at 6.30am, slept in the boot for two hours, got up, walked our gear onsite, cracked open the whisky and hit the stage at about 11 in the morning. Fairly tipsy. Hoorah!

Chris & George Lightyear at Glasto, off their noggins on cheap whisky.

For our fourth American tour, some dim-witted buffoon* on The Lightyears’ management team thought it would be a good idea to book us a gig in Portsmouth on Saturday night (ending at 2.30am) and then another in Union Square, New York – on the other side of the Atlantic – at lunchtime the following day. You don’t need me to point out that this isn’t a good idea, but hey. After 45 minutes of restless kip on Tony’s sofa I was bundled into the car at some ungodly hour by the rest of the band and we set off for Heathrow, utterly knackered. Some hours later, praying against unexpected delays, we went straight from the plane to customs to a cab to the streets of Manhattan to the stage and BOOM, we were off. I still can’t really remember the gig, to be honest. I think I was hallucinating at the time.

*It’s possible that the dim-witted buffoon was, in fact, me.

This is how we looked afterwards. And that's Sports Illustrated swimwear model Melissa Baker, smiling through the overwhelming smell of sweat.

It’s obvious what goes at Number One – that gig we did by mistake in a crèche. Yeah, you might scoff at this – might question just how crazy it really was – but if you think there are many things scarier than trying to convince a roomful of screaming, shitting toddlers to purchase your new charity football single, you’d be very wrong indeed.

[No photo was available for this incident. Seriously, that’s for the best.]


[Resisting the pun ‘folking genius’]

23 July 2012

The Lightyears and friends at Glastonbury 2008.Some years back, after our second performance at Glastonbury 2008, two of my brothers insisted I come and join them at the Park Stage to watch a set by a then relatively unknown band called Mumford & Sons.

It was a great gig (although for some reason one that I neglected to mention in my frankly riveting 2008 Glastonbury Tour Diary). My bros had been following Mumford & Sons pretty much since they started, roughly a year previously, touring around small pubs and clubs in London watching the band patiently build their fanbase. Four years later, they’ve sold 2.3 million records. You do the math (there isn’t really any math to do here; that just seemed like the appropriate thing to say).

Anyhow, news today is that the Mumfords’ second album Babel is due for release on September 25 on Glassnote. Pretty excited about this myself, as I was a huge fan of Sigh No More. The NME have released a video of them previewing a track from the next record called ‘Ghosts That We Knew’ on Philadelphia’s 104.5FM. Click here to check it out.

Best of luck to them, I say. A quintessentially English band playing quintessentially English music. And they made folk cool, which nobody saw coming.

ps. if this puts you in the mood for listening to British acoustic acts performing live on American radio, click here to listen to The Lightyears’ interview on WXPN Philadelphia.

Our Top 20 Moments Of 2008

23 December 2008

George, Danny, Tony & Chris at the 2008 INDY AwardsSo, as 2008 draws to a close, I thought I’d send out a festive greeting to all our fans. Y’know, kinda like The Queen’s Speech.

2008 has been an unpredictable year. We’ve never known quite where we’re gonna end up from one month to another but it’s been a pretty exciting ride all told. 

We have big plans for 2009. Our new album “London, England” is coming out in the New Year and we have a feeling you’re gonna like it! Plus next year is gonna be all about you – the fans – and we’ll be spending our time creating music, media and all manner of delectable treats intended for your voracious consumption. More about that after Christmas… 

In the meantime, we’d like to thank Lightyears fans everywhere for your continuing support of the band. Wherever you are and whoever you’re with, have a disgracefully Merry Christmas and a calamitous New Year.

In the meantime, here are our Top 20 Most Memorable Moments Of 2008:

  1. Performing at London Road stadium to thousands of people (twice!)
  2. Being played on XFM
  3. Being name-checked in The Guardian newspaper
  4. Selling out The Troubadour
  5. Performing in front of Barry Fry and the Mayor of Peterborough
  6. Reaching #45 in the iTunes Plus Top 100 with charity single “Posh We Are”
  7. Touring to Ireland to play at the launch of national music magazine State
  8. Making the short-list for Best Pop Act at the INDY Awards
  9. Presenting the award for Best Female Solo Act at the INDYs alongside Feargal Sharkey and Mike Rutherford
  10. Playing London Astoria 2
  11. Drinking a toast in a Korean jacuzzi at 7am after one of the best gigs of our lives

  12. Performing twice at Glastonbury Festival
  13. Supporting the Mystery Jets at a packed Barfly
  14. Fans at Brightlingsea Festival singing all our lyrics back to us on a hot August evening
  15. Flying Business Class to New York!
  16. Headlining the Time Out Festival in Union Square, Manhattan
  17. Releasing our EP “At Midnight” in the USA and being nominated as “Single Of The Day” at Amie Street
  18. Filming a music video for “Obama Republic
  19. Recording our new album “London, England”
  20. Buying a bitchin’ new van!

Here’s to 2009!

Chris Lightyear

In The Lightyears, we like to eat.

15 October 2008

George on stage in Union SquarePart Two of my American Tour Blog…

SUNDAY 14 SEPTEMBER, 3.30pm (Union Square, New York, USA):
Let me bring you up-to-speed.

Less than twenty hours ago we were playing a gig in Southampton, England.

Now we are standing onstage in the sweltering Manhattan heat performing to a crowd of thousands at Union Square in New York, USA. I am sweating like a TROOPER. I may never have been this hot.

My internal clock has given up the ghost and checked out. It simply has no idea what time it’s supposed to be. I resolve to give the gig everything I’ve got and to hell with the consequences. Heck, if this really is the city that never sleeps then I guess I won’t have to worry. Just push through the burn.

As we sing the closing note to Gimme Some and segue into the opening chords of She’s The One, I look out across the square and spot some fans from England in the crowd. Across the other side of the plaza I can see our Philadelphia faithful gathering near the stage. They are out in force and have even brought a rather splendid Lightyears banner with them.

Somehow, we’ve made it. Against all the odds, we are here in one piece, with all our instruments (most of which work), beaming at each other across the stage and knocking out a spirited rendition of Beat Alive. This is surreal. When the song finishes I tell the crowd that, when I say we’re happy to be here, I really mean it.

The Lightyears with Melissa BakerToday’s show also represents the launch of our new EP, At Midnight, and so we play the rest of the songs from the record in the set – This House Will Burn, Brightest Star and Run. After we finish, a big crowd of newly-converted fans converge on the stage to buy CDs and we’re kept busy signing autographs for nearly 45 minutes. I apologise profusely for my sweaty demeanour, for I am soggy like a flannel. I personally don’t consider this to be especially attractive although that doesn’t stop me having my picture taken (along with the rest of the LYs) with a Sports Illustrated model called Melissa. This sort of thing only happens in New York.

Presently we’re escorted off to The Revival Bar, round the corner from Union Square, where the after-party is in full-swing. We’ve barely stepped through the door before we’re introduced to a English chap named Neil Thomas, who we’re playing a gig with in Brooklyn on Thursday. Two minutes of chatting leads to the discovery that Neil specialises in beat-boxing and that, by sheer coincidence, we saw him perform onstage with Shlomo & The Vocal Orchestra at Glastonbury Festival back in June (and here’s the proof – check out #33 in George’s Glastonbury Top 50). So there you are. Plus he lives about half an hour away from us in London. Check him out at Neil Thomas’ Myspace Page.

Tony orders a Manhattan cocktail, for no other reason than a stubborn desire to sample all locally-named delicacies wherever we tour, and declares it to be quite disgusting. Truth is, Tony’s allegiances in America lie firmly with Dr Pepper and you’d have a fight on your hands persuading him that anything else is worth drinking Stateside.

The night descends into a montage of singing, drinking and debating and we end up back at Ashley’s apartment at around 2am, leaning out of the window watching the Manhattan traffic zoom by. Bizarrely, I don’t feel tired. I think my brain has forgotten how to. Best get some sleep though. We’ve got a whole week ahead of us…

MONDAY 15 SEPTEMBER, 10.30am (Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York):
Monday brings an equally stunning New York morning into our lives. Groggy and jet-lagged, we drag our sorry asses out of bed and stumble blinking out onto the street. 

It’s time for breakfast.

With all that gigging nonsense out the way, we can get down to focussing on what this tour is really about – eating. It’s no secret that, in The Lightyears, we like to eat. Even Tony, who’s a vegetarian and therefore not technically a human being, can Eat for England. ‘Course, being eligible to Eat For England doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ready for American food. I mean, I can over-indulge with the best of them but we’re in the States now. The goalposts have most definitely shifted.

Tony has eaten all he can..!Ashley takes us to her local diner, “3-Decker”, and we order pancakes, maple syrup, scrambled eggs, a veggie burger (for Tony), two omelettes, a beef and pastrami wrap, coffees, Pepsi and two sides of fries. Disgracefully, I make it but halfway through my “All-American Wrap”, so-called because it has ALL THE MEAT IN AMERICA inside it. Or at least that’s the only plausible explanation I can find. I am surprised at myself but refuse to feel ashamed. It was like trying to eat a baby’s head! Just, you know, a really delicious baby’s head with crunchy salad and a gherkin.

Somehow, barely four hours later, we find ourselves uptown in the Brooklyn Diner, settling down to another massive feast. The Brooklyn Diner famously serves the best burgers in New York, a claim that George heartily substantiates. I won’t go into the gory details but I mention this because, when we stepped into the doorway of the restaurant, we bumped into an old friend of ours from London. Apparently this happens all the time in Manhattan. I guess on an island, there are only so many places to go…

TUESDAY 16 SEPTEMBER, 9.30pm (Pianos, Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York):
The second gig of the tour is at Pianos, a venue we played for the first time last summer. The night is called “Cross-Pollination”, a format which can perhaps best be described as the musical equivalent of swinging – you play, then the other guys play, and at the end you all get onstage and play together. If you see what I mean. Chaos inevitably ensues due to the fact that there’s rarely an opportunity to rehearse beforehand (since in most cases the two acts have never met). In this instance we are at least fortunate that we know the other guys on the bill – Seth Kallen & The Reaction, a band with whom we have shared stages on both sides of the Atlantic.

George tries it on with Chris. Chris isn't amused.The set-up lends itself to acoustic performances but the crowd tonight are relatively raucous so, having kicked off with Fine (our staple acoustic opener), we head straight into a slew of more upbeat pop numbers such as Sleepless, This House Will Burn and Beat Alive. The crowd is a combination of familiar faces from last year and the Union Square gig on Sunday along with fans of Seth’s, some unknowns and a contingent of Cross-Poll regulars. It’s a good mix of people. We end on Brightest Star and Emily to appreciative applause and ready ourselves for the unpredictable act of musical pollination about to take place on the Pianos stage.

In the 45 seconds that we have in which to decide what to do, we elect to treat the audience to a Britpop double-bill – Parklife followed by Don’t Look Back In Anger. Both inspire mass singalongs and a general appreciation for all things British. Which works out rather well for us.

It’s a unique event and definitely worth a look if you ever find yourself in the area – check it out online at the Cross-Pollination website.

Much of what happened afterwards remains something of a blur – mainly thanks to several misguided rounds of black sambuca – but I do remember fragments of a conversation I attempted to conduct with an enormous beefcake of a doorman outside a nightclub at around 2am:

DOORMAN: “Can I see your ID? It’s over-21s only.”
CHRIS LY: [just a little slurred] “Ah, stout fellow… fear not. For I am a grown man – I am no whippersnapper.”
DOORMAN: “I need to see your ID.”
CHRIS LY: “D’you know, good sir, I don’t believe I have it with me. I’m British you know. I’ll just pass on through shall I?”
DOORMAN: “No ID, no entry.”
CHRIS LY: “Would you accept this shiny sixpence as a bribe?”

How I don’t get beaten up more often is truly beyond me.

Chris Lightyear

First Glastonbury slot confirmed

26 May 2008

The Lightyears’ first Glastonbury slot has been confirmed as Friday 27 June at 10.30pm on the Small World Stage. The band will also be appearing on the Green Fuse Stage – date and time T.B.C.

The LYs first played Glastonbury Festival back in 2005, turning up at the gates with instruments on their backs and the intention of blagging a gig wherever they could find one. This cavalier approach turned into a 3-gig residency at The Strange Fruit Cafe, where the band played to packed houses and filled up enthusiastically on chickpea curry.

The following year saw The Lightyears’ first appearance in the official Glastonbury Festival programme ahead of a gig on the Small World Stage in the Greenfields. This year, the Small World Stage have asked them back and Green Fuse, a stage that is in fact run by the original team behind the Strange Fruit Cafe, are hosting the band’s opening show at Glasto 2008.

LYs to play Glastonbury Festival

15 June 2007

The Lightyears’ slot at Glastonbury Festival 2007 has been confirmed as Friday 22 June @ 12pm midday on the Small World Stage.