Why you should always lock your roof box
Tuesday 24 April, 4am (Withington, Manchester):
Our UK Tour kicked off tonight with a gig upstairs at Manchester’s Fuel Café. We headlined the show, supported by our new cheeky Northern friends Avenues and singer-songwriter Tom Barnes (accompanied by George, an extraordinary violinist who played her instrument like a lead guitar). A big crowd turned up and we ended up commandeering some of them for a bit of an all-nighter. It’s now 4 in the morning and Manchester isn’t here anymore because we drank it. We’re driving to Scotland tomorrow so I set my alarm for 10am. We’re due to leave at midday.
Tuesday 25 April, Unspecified Time (Withington, Manchester):
I wake, hazily, with an uneasy feeling that I may have overslept. I turn on my phone. Apparently it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon. This really cannot be true. We should be in Gretna Green by now. Apart from anything else, only tramps and unemployed people sleep until 4pm. I search desperately for an explanation, and eventually recall that I inadvertently smashed up my phone onstage last night and the battery came out, resetting the clock. Jeepers. So it’s Scotland or bust.
Once on the road, everything calms down. Having travelled a lot in this car recently, we’ve fully pimped it out with the essential ingredients for a stress-free Lightyears tour. At the risk of shattering expectations, I’m not talking about Jack Daniels, acid tabs and Playboy bunnies. I’m talking about mini-flapjacks and Bill Bryson audio tapes. But, boy, do they take the edge off a long journey.
Tuesday 25 April, 11.30pm (The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh):
We’re sipping Gin & Tonics in Edinburgh’s coolest jazz venue, basking in the aftermath of a rocking return to one of our favourite cities and watching a bloke with incredibly fast-moving fingers teach his six-string bass a serious lesson. Niiiice. Our gig at Whistle Binkies went really well tonight so after the jazz band finish we find the boss of the place and blag ourselves a slot here for tomorrow evening. Apparently he has space for us just before his bi-weekly 6-piece Flamenco act. Should be an interesting musical segue then.
Wednesday 26 April, 11.45pm (The Outhouse Bar, Edinburgh):
This evening we played a stripped down acoustic set in the Jazz Bar to an audience made up almost entirely of highly-stressed undergraduates who really should have been revising for their finals. They’d all come down for a musical interlude in the hope that it would help settle their shattered nerves. It’s not much of a surprise, then, that the minute we come offstage they all retreat to their bedrooms to overdose on Pro-Plus and Fermat’s Last Theorem. As a result, we head off into the city in search of fun elsewhere.
Sadly, the bouncers at the Opal Lounge refuse to let me into their oh-so-fashionable nightclub this evening on account of the fact that they don’t believe I’m over 18. This is an incident for which I quite understandably have the royal piss ripped out of me by the boys; however, when I’m 57 but look only 50, who’ll have the last laugh then? In place of the Opal Lounge we grab a couple of pints in Dirty Dicks and watch a couple at the table next to us inadvertently set their newspaper on fire, and follow this by drinks at The Outhouse, where the DJ plays Michael Jackson and the A-Team theme tune. Rock.
Thursday 27 April, 9.45am (Tour Residence, Edinburgh):
I’m jolted from a peaceful slumber this morning by Tony bursting into the room babbling something about aeroplanes. “We’re flying to Korea at 10.15am… yeah? Is that OK with you guys?”. I want to inform Tony that since I’m yet to decide what colour pants to wear today I’m hardly in a position to contemplate trans-continental air-travel, but he’s disappeared before I get the chance to explain. However, it soon becomes clear that he’s not talking about today – he is in fact on the phone to our booking agent in Seoul, sorting out the flights for our Korean tour. As I’m feeling frisky, and in an effort not to be outdone by the drummer, once I’m out of bed I book the flights for our American tour too. Then we drive to Derby.
Thursday 27 April, 11.15pm (The Vic Inn, Derby):
There’s always one duff gig on a tour, and as we pull up outside Derby’s Vic Inn it starts to look like this might be it. Pasted onto the outside of the venue are posters for bands with names like “Legalised Murder” and “U Slut”. Hmm. This may not be our kind of place. Plus it turns out that the headline band all hate each other and are right on the verge of splitting up. I fall into conversation with the guitarist and ask him what went wrong. The words “Pandora” and “Box” spring to mind. “Bloody lead singer wants to move to Camden” he says, with notable venom. Ah.
As it turns out, it’s an absolutely cracking night. We’re sharing the bill with The Masterplans, Avenues and the now-deceased Dead Melody (yeh, I know – not just a clever name). There’s a great crowd down and the place is rocking. The Masterplans, not even out of school yet, are a compelling mix of Arctic Monkeys charm and Libertines guitar riffage. And Dead Melody, despite palpable inter-band tension, turn out to be great as well. Plus there’s a big wolf wandering around the venue all night (apparently he’s a permanent fixture). Before we’ve even left the place, plans are afoot to return in the near future. Tomorrow, it’s destination: The South.
Friday 28 April, 12.30pm (Motorway hard shoulder, just south of Derby):
Today we suffer at the hands of a minor road accident. They say pride comes before a fall, and in our case this translates as “poking fun at Northerners comes before the roof box on your car flies open and unleashes half your gear across the fast lane of the A70”. This incident makes two things clear: 1) If you’re planning to drive at 70 miles an hour, it really is best to lock your roof box and 2) If you’re going to make jokes about how much better everything is in the South of England, wait until you’re inside the M25.
Saturday 29 April, 3am (The Troubadour Club, London):
It’s 3am and, somehow, we’re still in the club. There was a massive crowd in for tonight’s gig but, by now, they’ve all supped their last Budvar and jumped on a night-bus. We’ve stuck around for an end-of-tour knees-up with the Avenues boys, who are showing us a thing or two about drinking ‘Derby-style’ (i.e. a lot). Tonight’s show went really well – the place was packed and I even spotted someone in the audience who looked uncannily like Dr Fox. Plus a whole bunch of LYs fans who saw us in France, on our European tour, came down with the express purpose of hearing “Emily”. As a result, we ended up playing it twice. And they all danced like maniacs. What a night.
Saturday 29 April, 8.30am (Lightyears HQ, Chiswick, London):
I wake up this morning haunted by a distant, yet inescapable, feeling of terror. There’s something we’re doing today that’s… complicated… and involves… getting out of bed… quite soon… I wonder – FERRY! We’re taking a ferry, that’s it – to the Isle Of Wight! Shit, erm, where’s the band?! Where’s the stuff? Head aches. Erm. What time’s the ferry? I have no idea. Where actually is the Isle Of Wight? Do we need passports? Must get to the Bureau De Change.. aargh, no time. Wait, it’s not a foreign country. We’re all good. Rock ‘n’ roll. Put some trousers on. We’re good to go.
Saturday 29 April, 4pm (East Cowes, Isle Of Wight):
The Red Funnel ferry has safely delivered us into East Cowes on the Isle Of Wight. Which, as you can well imagine, yields a barrage of jokes about coming into cows. We’ve got a few hours to kill before the private party we’re playing at kicks off, so we locate our hotel and make haste to our room where we discuss how funny it would be to throw the TV out of the window. And how tragic it is that we’re just not that kind of band. So instead, Tony has a nap and George and I settle down in front of Grandstand.
Sunday 30 April, 11am (East Cowes, Isle Of Wight):
Had a superb time last night. After the gig we took up residence in the Members’ Lounge of our hotel and generally made a nuisance of ourselves – smoking cigars with the other guests (yep, it now comes back to me that I had a go at smoking a tofu sausage), stealing those tiny hotel shampoos from the housekeeping closet and talking very, very loudly at each other. I had a boozy and extremely vocal argument with a drunk blonde woman in defence of Michael Jackson, in which it’s wholly conceivable that I accused at least one of her close family members of being a sex offender. Purely to make a point, you understand.
And so our UK Tour reaches its conclusion. Time, now, to go into the studio and record our new single…
Watch this space for updates.