Tickets go on sale for American Tour 2010

17 June 2010

The LYs on tour in the USA, September 2008.**UPDATE (24 June): Tickets are now on sale for LYs @ Blockley Pourhouse (Philadelphia) on Sat 17 July. CLICK HERE TO BUY YOURS!

Tickets are also available for our show at The Saint in Asbury Park (New Jersey) with local act Root Glen, on Sunday 18 July. Buy yours here.

All our other shows in the USA this summer are FREE ENTRY. Woo-hoo! Here’s a full list of the dates:

Thursday 15 July: Union Square, New York NY
Friday 16 July: Burlington Amphitheatre, Mount Holly NJ
Saturday 17 July: Blockley Pourhouse, Philadelphia PA (BUY TICKETS HERE)
Sunday 18 July: The Saint, Asbury Park NJ (BUY TICKETS HERE)
Thursday 22 July: Astoria Park, New York NY

Full details on the GIGS page.

Blue Moons and seven-foot transvestites…

25 August 2009

Oh yeah. Check out our big American truck.WEDNESDAY 29 JULY, 8.30pm (Business Class Cabin, British Airways Flight 183, Heathrow):
The last time we toured to America, we flew Business Class. It turned out that Tony had a “contact” who was able to pull some strings for us at British Airways (I didn’t ask exactly what this meant – Tony has East End gangster blood in his family and I generally find it’s best not to enquire about his methods) and we had our tickets upgraded. Sadly, this time round, on account of the flight being absolutely packed, we have been condemned to flying World Traveller Plus, which is the next rung above cattle.

As a result we are now having to shuffle ignominiously through the Business Class cabin on our way to inferior seats in a perverse re-enactment of that moment in 1980s game shows when the presenter would excitedly announce: “And here’s what you could have won!” (it was always a speedboat, for some reason). You’d watch the forlorn faces of the unsuccessful contestants, struggling to look gracious whilst a small army of bikini-clad beauties clambered all over the star prize, stroking it lasciviously and batting their eyelids. We are having the upmarket wares of high-society living literally paraded about in front of us. The champagne. The leg-room. The seats-that-are-actually-beds. It’s almost too much. I long to turn away, but cannot. Oh the shame.

And then, unexpectedly, I spot a small boy in one of the seats. He’s sitting next to his very glamorous-looking mother. It’s unusual to see young children in Business Class but he looks somehow at home here, at ease, waiting so well-behaved in his window seat. He’s a beautiful kid, Italian I think, a mop of jet black hair and an innocent, thoughtful expression drifting like gentle waves across his eyes. He is playing quietly with a small wooden model of a fire engine. Our eyes meet momentarily and I glimpse the fleeting intangibility of youth in his handsome young face, the soft, unblinking wonder of boyhood – unaffected, it seems, by the transitory comforts that surround him, and I find myself thinking…

“You little bastard.”

Me in Ashley's apartment after four Blue Moons. Don't ask me who the other guy is.THURSDAY 29 JULY, 2.15am (Merrion Square Bar, Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York USA):
Having somehow survived the flight to New York without even the slightest whiff of fillet steak, we arrived into JFK airport at around 10.30pm local time and were met by Ashley, one of our US tour managers. We immediately took a cab to her apartment on the Upper East Side in the expectation of going straight to bed.

Instead, somehow, we currently find ourselves on our fourth round of Blue Moons (a deliciously fruity local beer) in an almost empty Manhattan bar whilst a Phil Collins live album plays over the PA. Now, without doubt, we are officially “on tour”.

THURSDAY 29 JULY, 6.15pm (Union Square, Manhattan, New York):
This is our second performance in Union Square. Our first was last September, as part of one of the more manic episodes in the history of The Lightyears, in which we succeeded in playing two gigs in two continents, three thousand miles apart, in under twenty hours. This time around it’s all a lot more straightforward. We’ve been in New York for a day already and have begun the process of acclimatising to local culture (i.e. eating more than our own body weights at each meal – this morning for breakfast, for example, I ate a pastrami sandwich that contained so much meat I actually felt like it might have been endangering cows as a species) and developing a tolerance for the intense heat you get in the peak of summer in Manhattan.

This evening’s gig, which is part of a summer-long concert series run by the Union Square partnership, is outdoors. Last week’s concert was rained off during one of the city’s dramatic July thunderstorms, but today we’ve been lucky and the sun is blazing. Jukebox The Ghost, a fantastic Philly band who supported us in London a couple of years ago and were the unfortunate victims of last week’s cancelled performance, have joined us on the bill and are just finishing their highly entertaining and accomplished support slot in front of a rapidly burgeoning crowd. Top band – check them out here. When we jump up onstage and look out across the park, I begin to wonder whether this could turn out to be our biggest audience yet in the States, and it turns out I’m right – by the time we’ve played our first few songs and the passing trade have assembled in front of the stage, the crowd has grown to several thousand. This is brilliant. Summer evening, outdoor concert, Union Square, the British invasion – nothing could be better. I’d go as far as to say that it turns into our best ever show in the States.

The LYs rocking the crowd in New YorkWe play for around an hour and the set includes songs both old and new – recent tracks such as “Johannesburg” and “Speedway 105” sit alongside songs which we haven’t played since last time we were in the USA such as “Miles Away” and “Brightest Star”. We’re having a whale of a time. I spot some familiar faces out in the plaza – fans from Philly who have travelled into the city to see us, friends from previous tours and even a couple of Lightyears fans from London. I speak to one girl afterwards who tells me: “I was walking through Manhattan and heard some band covering “Sleepless” by The Lightyears. Then I took a closer look and discovered it was you!”.

Afterwards we sign a bunch of autographs and have our photos taken with new fans, which is rather brave of them considering how disgustingly sweaty I am (see some of the pictures here). Follow this we assemble a motley crew and head for Revival where our after-party is being held. At Revival we gorge on pizza and more Blue Moons and at some point in the evening end up dancing with seven-foot transvestites to Michael Jackson tunes in a club that is, apparently, also a beauty parlour.

Today has been probably one of my favourite days ever.

FRIDAY 30 JULY, 6.15pm (WAWA Food Hut, Riverton, Philadelphia):
Today we head for Philadelphia. Which means one thing above all others.


Wawa, as far as I’m aware, does reasonably good business most of the year in the states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. It’s a popular brand of roadside supermarket-cum-deli and Americans have responded favourably to its easy level of convenience and innovative touch-screen sandwich-ordering technology.

That said, I don’t think I’d be out of line in ultimately attributing the massive success of the brand to the amount of business it does once-yearly when The Lightyears land in Philadelphia.

We just can’t get enough of Wawa. Sure, we have sandwiches in Britain (we invented them) but the typical deal is two, maybe three fillings, limited to a small number of essentially quite similar combinations. Not so with Wawa. In fact, I’d confidently assert that The Wawa Food Hut is a very effective microcosm for the entire American Dream philosophy – in the USA, you can have exactly what you want, when you want it, and in huge quantities to boot. Just like in Wawa. For example, one of the options at the very beginning of the sandwich-ordering process is “2-foot”… a TWO FOOT SANDWICH! That’s insane. It’s like eating a boa constrictor.

On this particular day, we head into Wawa giddy with expectation. It’s been nearly ten months since our last hoagie and we’re all salivating with the thought. In The Lightyears, we tend to fall prey on tour to what we like to call “competitive eating”. It’s essentially a way of asserting masculinity over other band members by out-eating them, often to disgusting lengths, and I’ll be the first to admit that George is running rings around me on this tour.  I think the heat may have sapped my appetite. Whatever the explanation, I am destined to lose this particular bout.

After you’ve ordered your sandwich, the little computer prints a receipt for you, listing all the ingredients you have chosen to include in your hoagie. Grinning like a Cheshire Cat, George saunters over to me and says: “Look at my receipt”. He unleashes it. It’s about a foot long.

“How long is yours?”

I’m ashamed to produce it. It’s half the length of George’s.

“Are you on a diet?” goads George.

I think about defending myself by telling him it’s not the size of your sandwich but what you do with it that counts, but I know I’d be lying. I’ve failed. Admittedly my Wawa Philly Cheesesteak is no tiddler, and it fills me up, but that’s not really the point. In The Lightyears, unless you’ve eaten until the point of debilitation, you’ve not really eaten.

Once we’re back in the ridiculously massive truck that we’ve hired to get to Spring City, George begins the arduous process of actually ingesting the behemoth sitting in his lap. When he opens the paper wrapping, I actively wince. I swear I can even hear his heart-rate increasing. There are so many fillings in this sandwich that the bread walls have been breached and are hidden beneath a steaming mountain of meat, cheese, vegetables and sauce. It’s less of a sandwich and more of a dreadful pizza. I can immediately read the look on George’s face – “I can’t eat this like a normal sandwich”, he’s thinking, “because I can’t pick it up. There’s only one option.”

And with that, George plunges face-first into his food like a pig in a trough.

Whilst this disgusting process is unfolding beside me, I take the chance to study the receipt. My jaw drops open. Here’s a rough approximation of what it said:

– Cheese
– Extra cheese (3)
– Pepper Jack Cheese
– Grated parmesan
– Chicken
– Meat
– Extra meat
– Extra bacon
– A little bit of oil
– Extra oil [this isn’t a joke – you really can order this in America]
– Peppers
– Roasted peppers
– Sweet peppers
– Sweet roasted peppers
– Onions
– Extra onions
– Ranch sauce
– Barbeque sauce
– Horseradish
– Tomato relish
– Mayo
– Garlic mayo
– Honey mustard sauce
– Mustard
– French mustard
– Salt
– Pepper
– Oregano

In some counties in England, it would actually be illegal to eat this.

When he’s done, George is looking distinctly peaky. We are just a few miles outside of Spring City and will need to load our gear into the venue within the half hour.

“Chris…” he begins, struggling even to form words, “Chris… I don’t think I can do the gig. You’ll have to go on without me.”

I turn to face him. He looks like he’s been sat on by a bear.

“George mate, it’s going to be fine. I think you know what to do.”

He nods slowly.

“You’ll have to do the Christmas Walk.”

George invented the Christmas Walk back in the late ’90s. Typically it is used but once a year, on 25 December, at the close of Christmas dinner. In England it is customary on this occasion to eat and drink yourself into a stupor before crashing down in front of the TV to watch Noel Edmonds mince about in a woolly jumper for about five hours. Problem is, George has a habit of eating such a colossal amount of food during dinner that he is unable to straighten his body into a walking position upon leaving the chair, making a normal walk impossible. Necessity being the mother of invention, some years ago he patented the Christmas Walk, an ingenious method of walking whilst remaining in a sitting position. Basically you’re bent over at a sharp right angle, staring at the floor and waddling like an infirm duck. This enables you to muster a brief burst of (albeit limited) movement in spite of your creakingly full stomach. All you need is enough momentum to get you from the dinner table to the armchair. It doesn’t take much. But the Christmas Walk makes it all possible.

And so it was that George found himself Christmas Walking from the parking lot in the quaint town of Spring City, Pennsylvania, to the front door of Chaplin’s Music Cafe, where the second gig of our US tour was taking place. Passers-by regarded him with suspicion. “We’re British,” I explain. “He’s had a little too much cheesesteak. Nothing a quick Christmas Walk won’t sort out.”

FRIDAY 30 JULY, 8.45pm (Chaplin’s Music Cafe, Spring City, Pennsylvania):
Spring City is a small, attractive and incredibly quiet town north-west of Philadelphia. In England, a place like this wouldn’t have a music venue. In England, it wouldn’t even have a post office. But they do things differently in America.

Spring City also has a music store, conveniently situated opposite the venue and coincidentally named George’s Music. Naturally we had to go in there so George could do his “I’m a musician from England and my name’s George” routine. Rather splendidly the chap behind the counter gave us all free t-shirts in recognition of this fact. I left the store and discovered that mine was “Triple XL”. Not altogether useful for me at this stage in my career but I thought about it and concluded that it will come in handy when, after our 11th album has gone platinum and we all harbour such unrelenting and undisguised loathing for each other that we have begun taking separate limos to gigs, and I sit in my keytar-shaped swimming pool all day eating cheeseburgers and Findus crispy pancakes from a bucket and I’m wildly obese and need to be airlifted to gigs, it’ll be just the ticket. Always good to plan for the future, I reckon.

Chaplin’s is a fantastic little venue. The sound system is incredibly crisp and juicy (that’s right – “juicy” is a technical term in sound production) and it’s a great place to see live music. There’s a friendly crowd in tonight and we play, if I may say so myself, a very accomplished and well-balanced one-hour set that moves from the gentle acoustica of “Fine” and “Girl On The Radio” through the sunny upbeat harmonies of “Brightest Star” and “Emily”, closing on the theatrical coda of “The Last Night”. I do a bit of banter about sandwiches, which seems to go down well, and we sample a couple of flagons of the excellent local beer known as “Sly Fox”.

The LYs with Brooke Shive & The 45s at Chaplin'sWe are supporting a blues/soul act called Brooke Shive and The 45s, who are great fun and sound really superb. They are joined by Andy Goessling of Railroad Earth, who at one point manages to play two saxophones simultaneously. Now THAT’S a trick worth seeing.

Tomorrow – Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

Sunday – Burlington New Jersey.

Keep your eyes peeled for Part Two of my USA Tour Diary 2009 – coming soon!

Chris Lightyear

LYs to be reviewed on Princeton radio

5 August 2009

Our latest album “London, England” is being reviewed tomorrow evening (Thursday 6 August) on Princeton radio station WPRB.

Presenter John Tobias saw us play in Burlington, New Jersey, during our last tour and will be playing tracks from the album on his show tomorrow night before putting the CD on daily rotation for the coming weeks. John’s show airs 6pm-8pm EST (11pm-1am BST).

WPRB’s broadcast range stretches from the outskirts of New York through Philadelphia PA and into Wilmington, Delaware. Local listeners can pick it up on 103.3FM whilst fans around the globe can tune in at

Lightyears on tour in USA

29 July 2009

This is how to look cool when you're in New YorkWe’re leaving for the United States today for a run of dates in the New York and Philadelphia area. See details below…

THURSDAY 30 JULY: Union Square, Manhattan NY (with Jukebox The Ghost)
– Free Entry. LYs onstage 6pm.

FRIDAY 31 JULY: Chaplin’s, Spring City PA (with Brooke Shive & The 45s)
– Doors 7pm. LYs onstage 8pm. BYOB. Buy tickets here.

SATURDAY 1 AUGUST: Milkboy, Ardmore PA (with Vantine/Amadio)
– Doors 8pm. Buy tickets here.

SUNDAY 2 AUGUST: Burlington Amphitheatre, Westampton NJ (with Jon Clifton)
– Free entry. LYs onstage 3pm.

See you guys there!

Tickets on sale for Lightyears in Spring City USA

23 June 2009

This is what a ticket looks likeTickets are now on sale for our show at Chaplin’s in Spring City, USA, on Friday 31 July. Buy yours now by clicking here.

This year’s whirlwind US tour will be taking us to three states – New York City, New Jersey and Pennsylvania – over a jam-packed week that is in danger of ripping a massive hole in the rock-time continuum.

Chaplin’s Music Cafe in Spring City, just outside Phoenixville, is famous for hosting the man himself, Mr Charlie Chaplin, as part of a travelling revue back in 1916. Little did he know that his big-trousered antics would later manifest themselves in popular youth culture in the guise of MC Hammer. Had he known, would he have continued? Would he have simply worn smaller trousers? We simply can’t say.

If you’re a New Yorker, you can catch us for free on Thursday 30 July headlining Union Square’s “Music In The Square” summer season. Fans in Philly can also catch us at Milkboy Coffee on Saturday 1 August and Burlington Amphitheatre on Sunday 2 August.

For full details, click here to visit the gigs page.

As for you Londoners, don’t forget we’re playing The Troubadour on Friday 24 July. Demand for tickets has been high and it’s advisable to buy in advance to avoid disappointment. Click here to buy yours.

Anybody who comes to the gigs in both London and New York (bear in mind that they’re within the same week) gets five free copies of our album, a signed poster and a big kiss.*

*Tony, that doesn’t include you.

New date added to US tour

6 May 2009

The LYs on tour in New York, Sept '08On 31 July this year we’ll be playing a stage in Pennsylvania once graced by Charlie Chaplin! The aptly-named Chaplin’s in Spring City, PA, is the latest addition to our 2009 USA Tour, joining dates in Burlington, Ardmore and New York City.

Chaplin’s Music Cafe is just a few miles from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. The venue is famous for playing host to the big-trousered movie legend as part of a travelling revue in 1916 and these days features performances from national and international recording artists every Friday and Saturday night.

For full details, click here to visit the GIGS page.

To read about our last tour to the USA, click here to visit the TOUR DIARY page

To see photos from the last tour, click here to visit the GALLERY page.

LYs to tour East Coast USA

15 April 2009

George Lightyear rocks New York, Sept '08This summer we will be returning to America to play three states – New York City, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

On Thursday 30 July we’ll be playing the “Summer In The Square” series in Union Square, Manhattan. This will be followed on Saturday 1 August by a headline show at Milkboy Coffee in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and an afternoon performance at Burlington Amphitheatre in New Jersey on Sunday 2 August. For full details visit the GIGS page.

Whilst in the USA we are also hoping to secure a slot on WXPN radio’s legendary “Free At Noon” broadcast at the World Cafe in Philadelphia. This is an incredibly prestigious show – recent performers include Gomez, Damien Rice and Adele and the broadcast goes out to a national audience of several million people. We performed live on Matt Reilly’s WXPN show back in 2007 and so the next step up is to be part of the station’s weekly live concert. Here’s the fun though – YOU can help us secure the slot by visiting the WXPN website and requesting our track “Sleepless” for airplay on the station. Click here to visit the WXPN website and request “Sleepless”! It’ll totally rock our world if you do, we promise.

This will be our fourth visit to the USA and we’re excited to be seeing our US fans again. Click here to read my tour diary from our last Stateside visit.

Rare LYs track used on Philadelphia compilation

9 April 2009

An extremely rare live version of Lightyears track “Inside Job” has been included on a compilation album released this week in Philadelphia, USA.

The album is called “Milkboy Live Vol. 1” and comprises eleven live tracks recorded over the last two years at the Milkboy Coffee venue in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Milkboy was one of the first venues we sold out on the East Coast and has featured in every single one of our American tours since. Click here to visit my USA tour diaries and read up on our past adventures at Milkboy.

The release also feaures The Brakes, Jim Boggia and the late Robert Hazard, the Philadelphia legend who wrote Cyndi Lauper’s hit single “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, in one of his last recorded live performances.

The Milkboy website says of The Lightyears involvement in the project: “We were glad to include these British lads. They came to us all the way from England, where they were voted best pop/rock band at the first ever UK INDY Awards in 2007. They have great elements of pop in their quirky style of rock and roll. They come complete with 3-part harmonies and a drummer that stands up to play. What’s great about this tune is that you won’t catch them playing this anywhere else. After selecting the song, we found out from the band that this is an early version of a song that went on to become something completely different. The Lightyears agreed after a listen that the tune was rocking. Thanks to the guys for giving us the exclusive track, ‘Inside Job’.”

In fact, “Inside Job” was a re-working of “We Keep The Beat Alive” from our 2005 album Mission Creep. It eventually became the track “That Was Us”, which features on our 2009 album London, England (click here to visit the LYs shop where both albums are available now priced £4 and £5 respectively).

“Milkboy Live Vol. 1” is available now for $7 (around £4.80) from the Milkboy website – click here to visit the store. You can also purchase it as a download from iTunes.

“You’re ‘avin a giraffe mate!”

9 January 2009

WEDNESDAY 17 SEPTEMBER, 1.30pm (Time Square, New York, USA):
“I’m driving a van! Through Time Square! I’m James Bond!”

Tony is driving a van. Through Time Square. In doing so he is fulfilling a lifelong ambition and is having an absolute ball in the process.

A cab driver tries cutting us up and soon regrets it. Within seconds Tony’s head is out of the window unleashing a patter of mockney road-rage.

“Oi! Watchit mate! [pause] Nah mate, I ain’t moving. C’mon, you could get a bus through there! [another pause] Wot?! You’re ‘avin’ a giraffe!” 

The phrase “You’re having a giraffe” causes much hilarity and confusion amongst the Americans in our entourage. For in-depth analysis from a New Yorker’s POV, check out Ashley’s Guest Blog. Suffice it to say that they simply couldn’t get their head around the connection between a long-necked, land-dwelling mammal and an Italian-American cabbie.

The van in which we are travelling, by the way, is a truly beautiful machine. “Stella The Wonderbus” has clearly hosted many a touring band over the years but remains in fine condition, affectionately graffitied with phrases such as “Man Love” and “I NY”. We are employing Stella to drive into Philadelphia for a headline show at Milkboy Coffee, a venue we habitually refer to as our second home.

The first time we drove down the New Jersey turnpike back in 2006, Tony greeted the prospect with tangible excitement – it was another one of those activities that he wanted to cross off his list of Things To Achieve In Life.  By now the NJ turnpike is virtually an old friend of ours, a regular fixture in our lives. It’s also become fully apparent that, any romantic notions aside, it’s really just a bloody long road with lots of massive trucks on it. Why, we could almost be on the A329M cruising into Reading. Except you can’t get Taco Bell on the A329M. And that, believe me, is a crying shame. Little Chef is NO substitute for the Bell.

When we arrive at Milkboy in the picture-perfect town of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, it’s almost deserted. Two hours later, the sun has gone down and the place is full of Lightyears fans. This is why I adore Ardmore. It’s like coming home.

Oh, and the other reason I adore Ardmore is PEANUT-BUTTER MILKSHAKES. I believe I have made enough of this obsession of mine in previous blogs so I won’t harp on about it. But, if you’ve never had one, fly to Pennsylvania now and make a beeline for the Milkboy Coffee House. You won’t be disappointed.   

The Milkboy is a real listening venue, and we love those kind of gigs. Rocking out in a sweaty club is a lot of fun but there’s also something to be said for shows where your audience hangs on every note you play – and this is one of them. We open with Fine and build slowly through Girl On The Radio and Home For The Weekend into all the upbeat stuff – Sleepless, Beat Alive and Emily, as well as some tunes that will be new to this crowd such as Brightest Star and Run.    

As a general rule, and to quote Tony, when we play the Milkboy “something always goes catastrophically wrong”. It could be the sound-desk failing, or my module packing up, or George’s guitar falling to pieces – but it’ll always be something. I am, therefore, delighted to report that on this occasion the whole shooting match goes without incident. We play, if I do say so myself, a rather cracking show and the atmosphere in the venue is fantastic. Fans tell me afterwards that they’ve never seen the place that busy on a Wednesday night. 

Being the kind of band never to turn down an after-party we are soon whisked back to Riverton, New Jersey, where Maureen has opened up her famous porch to one-and-all and plays host to an abundance of merriment, gin & tonics and some really delicious little cakey things which I think the Americans call “biscuits” (even though, of course, we know that a biscuit is a hard-baked confectionary product. Not a cake. Still, they’re scrumptious). 

THURSDAY 18 SEPTEMBER, 7.45am (Maureen’s Yard, Riverton, New Jersey):
Once again, we were up last night until the wee small hours. However, respite is short-lived as we are forced to prise ourselves out of bed at 7.30am in order to get back to New York in time for a day of meetings and, in the evening, an impromptu studio session with a producer we met a couple of days ago in Manhattan.

Fortunately for us, the day starts in the best possible way – with Breakfast At Maureen’s. Supertramp may have recorded a hit album called Breakfast In America but they never had Breakfast At Maureen’s, so whadda they know? Not a lot, I’d say.

Scrambled egg, potatoes, crispy bacon, coffee, fresh orange juice, more biscuits (the American kind), several varieties of tea… we’re in heaven. The sun is shining and Riverton is looking resplendent. If only we had the time to shoot the breeze and admire the view; however, New York beckons. We say our goodbyes, climb back into our trusty steed and head back to The Big Apple.

Thursday passes in a whirl. We have a couple of meetings (most notably with Ariel Hyatt of Cyber PR – an absolute charmer and a fascinating person too – check out her blog here), experience our first ever Wendy’s burger (hearty, delicious and satisfyingly marketed as “old fashioned hamburgers” – although as far as I can tell the only difference from McDonalds is that the burgers are square), grab a pile of takeaway pizzas and a 12-pack of Buds and head to the recording studio.

Andy Baldwin runs a studio called The Devil’s Backyard in the heart of Chinatown. Funnily enough, by this point in the tour, I could quite easily have ended up in the devil’s actual backyard and not noticed – I am that beat. We paper over the cracks of our exhausted bodies with cheesy pizza and cold, fizzy beer and proceed to bash out a highly-charged version of Emily in under four hours. Andy mixed Morcheeba’s last album and is the John Wayne of producers – I mean, this man is seriously quick on the draw. He’s a machine. Which is just as well because we have a gig tonight on the other side of the East River and time is running seriously short. 

When the clock strikes midnight we decide we really have to dash and so we arrange with Andy that we’ll come back the next morning to finish our vocals before flying back to London. We have received word that fans at the loft party we’re playing in Brooklyn tonight are starting to get restless and that we’d better arrive soon or we could have a mutiny on our hands. There’s only one thing for it. We dash out into the middle of Chinatown and use our by now expert hailing skills to attract the attention of the nearest cabbie. Once inside Tony makes it very clear that the guy needs to step on it and, to his credit, this particular chap takes to the challenge with relish.

He is pelting through the streets, flouting the highway code left, right and centre and taking on fellow motorists by the dozen. Disaster strikes when, on the way into Brooklyn, we hit a killer traffic jam. As it turns out, however, things are just about to get entertaining.

Our cabbie, whom I shall call Luigi for convenience, cuts up some self-important businessman in a goliath 4×4 freelander and obviously raises the guy’s ire because suddenly he’s leaning out the window flinging abuse at our trusty driver: “What are you, some kinda wise guy?” (he pronounces it “woise goi”). I almost guffaw with joy. Surely you have to be in Bugsy Malone to say that.

Somehow we make it to the McKibbin Lofts before our loyal fans have given up the ghost and, by now, they are really ready for a gig. If you ever make it to Brooklyn, you have to check this place out – converted textile mills that have become a mecca for the city’s artists, bohemians and pleasure-seekers. McKibbin is an icon of hipster style. All the dudes hang out here. You almost expect to find the Dandy Warhols jamming in the hallway.

We play a ramshackle unplugged set to a lasciviously boogying mix of artists, musicians and hedonists. We are almost delirious from fatigue and perform as if not playing would cause our hearts to stop. It’s a thrilling, surreal, unforgettable experience. At the last minute, and in an uncharacteristic bout of spontaneous improvisation, Tony re-jigs Banana Republic and gives birth to Obama Republic – he sings along, we sing along, the crowd sings along. It’s two months before the election and campaign fever is peaking across New York, which adds a certain piquancy to an already eccentric evening.   

When the gig ends I’m whisked out the door by Ashley to go pick up another crate of beers. The only option, it seems, is to keep the party going ’till dawn. Gloriously, we end up staying up all night singing Ben Folds and Jeff Buckley, with Tony sticking staunchly to his claim that Hallelujah has “the worst lyrics in the history of music”, even in the face of a room full of people eulogizing over them as indisputably the greatest set of pop lyrics ever written. This commitment to contrariness is one of Tony’s most endearing features. He is the absolute best person to have a debate with, provided you don’t mind things getting a bit heated. Seriously, next time you see Tony, engage him in a discussion about his disdain for Hallelujah. He stores it in his brain right next to “The Cure might be my favourite band but Friday I’m In Love is a load of old dross” and “Humans are genetically pre-disposed to vegetarianism” in the “Opinions Guaranteed To Wind People Up” File. What a legend.

FRIDAY 19 SEPTEMBER, 9am (McKibbin Lofts, Brooklyn, New York):
I wake up at around 9am. It occurs to me almost immediately that I only went to bed at 6am. 

Though whilst I’m on the subject, “bed” may be a somewhat flamboyant term for a keyboard case and a couple of cigarette packets.

So here we are. The end of the line. A taxi ride back into Chinatown delivers us to The Devil’s Backyard, where we finish the track, say our goodbyes to Andy and head battle-weary for the airport.

What a week. It feels epoch-making, era-defining. Downing champagne and feasting on fillet steaks in Business Class seems a long, long time ago. Particularly since, on the flight home, we are consigned to the Economy Cabin. Economy! No truffles? No quail’s eggs?! No Financial Times?!!

Upon touching down on English soil again on Saturday morning, many soberer individuals would head for the comfort of a freshly-made bed.

But not the LYs. We’re playing a private party in Devon. And we have to be there in four hours. 

We do it because we love it. Pure and simple.

Chris Lightyear

Blog and pictures now online from American Tour

29 September 2008

George Lightyear in NYCLast week The Lightyears returned from a week-long tour in the USA. To find out more about what the boys got up to on the East Coast, visit the BLOG page for the first instalment of Chris Lightyear’s USA Tour Diary. An album of photos has also been published in the LYs Gallery.  

The band were based in New York where they performed at the Time Out “Back To School Blowout” in Union Square, at Pianos on the Lower East Side and at the McKibbin Lofts in Brooklyn. The band also made a trip out to Philadelphia mid-way through to headline at Milkboy Coffee in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. 

Keep your eyes peeled for more USA content on its way soon, including an LY-TV “New York Special” and a guest blog charting the band’s adventures from an American’s perspective.

Plans are already afoot to return to the United States within the next few months. Watch this space for updates!

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