Sex, Drugs and Sandwiches
It is mid-evening in New York. We have been in the USA approximately eight hours and, according to our body clocks, it’s the middle of the night.
George is already on his fourth meal.
This is how it goes in the States, you see. We fly over with the pretence of being ‘a rock band on tour’, when really we’re more like undercover food scientists seeking to mine North America for her wondrous gastronomical quarry. Since landing we have eaten calamari, mediterranean salads, hot dogs, fresh hummus, speciality Turkish bread and a full steaming carcass of roast pork and – according to George – we still haven’t officially eaten dinner. He wants a massive plate of hot, cheesy New York pizza, and he ain’t sleeping ‘til he gets it.
I deliberately missed out one of the meals earlier in the day, on account of having already eaten two on the plane, and received short shrift from George. This was un-Lightyears of me. I was an embarrassment, to my band and to my country. I felt sad.
I apologise. To The Lightyears, and to the Queen.
Anyhow, moving on, for me the food highlight thus far was definitely the hot dogs. And I’m talking proper old-school New York hot dogs that you get from a bloke on the sidewalk with a wicked big meat trolley. They were insane. I mean SMACK MY ASS WITH A CRICKET BAT insane. I don’t even like hot dogs that much; I think they’re weird. But this evening, as I slowly consumed this bready cylinder of mustardy goodness, I wept for the beauty of the thing. I wept.
Oh, and I probably also ought to mention that this evening our 2013 American tour kicked off with a headline show at the amazing Astoria Park in Queens. In fact, that’s where the hot dogs came from – the park’s resident dog-dude sold so much product to the crowd at our gig that, smile beaming from ear to ear, he presented us with a huge bag of free nosh after the show. Once again, the wonderful people of Astoria came out in droves to see us, and we powered through the jet-lag to deliver 90 minutes of pure, melodic British pop-rock while the sun went down over the East River. It was enormously special. And not just because of the delicious sausages.
How many calories will tomorrow bring? Can’t wait to find out.
Friday 16 August, Jamey’s House Of Music (Philadelphia, PA):
On a quiet little street, in a quiet little suburb of Philadelphia, sits an unassuming little music venue called Jamey’s House Of Music. This was our first visit to Jamey’s, and I was enormously intrigued to find out more about the place – although I have to admit that my initial thought as we cruised through the wide, well-kept suburban boulevards was… ‘Who on earth is going to come and see us out here?!’.
It’s not like the place has passing trade. In fact, Jamey’s House could easily be mistaken for a regular house from the outside – so where was our audience going to come from?
However, as we stepped inside and were greeted by the enthusiastic, gregarious Jamey, I asked him gingerly if we had many people coming down and he replied: ‘We’re sold out’. From there onwards, our first show at Jamey’s turned quickly into one of my favourite ever gigs.
It’s an incredible venue. Intimate, unique and impeccably kitted out, Jamey’s House is quite literally Jamey’s house. He lives there with his family, and hostess Suyun Reilly even cooks a Chinese feast at every gig for the musicians and guests. It was utterly unlike any other show we’ve played – and was captured in full on video for your viewing pleasure. Check it out now by clicking here.
ps. I can’t confirm exactly how much of the All-You-Can-Eat buffet George consumed, but he definitely didn’t hold back.
Saturday 17 August, Circle Of Friends House Concert (Riverton, NJ):
The Circle Of Friends, a collective of music lovers based in New Jersey, have been holding gigs in unexpected locations for some time now (their most intriguing one took place in a boatyard), and today they played host to The Lightyears in the back-room of a big house in the wonderful town of Riverton.
Having visited Riverton in the past, we were familiar with the amazingly welcoming nature and generosity of the folks who live there, and this year was no exception. Our hosts Chris and Deb greeted us with cold beers and a stack of fresh pizzas, and led us to the brand-new extension building behind their home – which happens to be perfect for a live band. Once again, a capacity crowd rocked up and we played a pin-drop acoustic show packed full of new tunes and old LYs standards. I read more passages from my Lightyears novel, Mockstars, and drank an enormous amount of gin (after the gig, I might add. I’m not Pete Doherty).
During the after-party, George – who is still engaged in a mission to teach his stomach a very stern lesson – slipped off to the Wawa Food Hut with Johnny to clear them out of sandwiches and junk food (you can see them in the pic below, enjoying the Wawa’s frankly wonderful touch-screen ordering system). He returned with a hoagie longer than my arm and a big bag of very, very shiny donuts. Half an hour later, he couldn’t move.
‘You know how they say that if you were able to fold a piece of paper in half seven times, it would be bigger than the universe?’ George said to me, as we sat with our good friends Alexis and Nick on the Riverton dock, bobbing up and down in the Delaware River.
He let out a small burp.
‘That’s what my stomach feels like right now.’
Sunday 18 August, Burlington County Amphitheater (Mount Holly, NJ):
To close the tour, we returned to an old favourite of ours – the Burlington Amphitheater in Mount Holly. The sun was shining, we played to a fourth sell-out crowd and even managed an impromptu collaboration with opening act Camille Peruto, who joined us onstage for an acoustic cover of David Guetta’s hit Titanium. Our unofficial US fan club hosted a party in the evening to mark the end of the trip, and I ate my bodyweight in devilled eggs. So all is well.
* * * * * *
Upon our return to the UK a few days later, we are somewhat dismayed to find the papers full of articles about an American creation called The Cheese & Bacon Pizzaburger. Basically it’s a cheeseburger wrapped in bacon and pepperoni pizza and served like a calzone. And at 1360-calories a pop, it’s a meal that makes your arteries contract just looking at it.
And we’ve missed it.
Guess we’ll have to come back next year then, eh?
ps. Whilst in the States we also recorded a live session and interview with radio DJ Charlie Silvestri. You can listen to it in full by clicking here.