6 years in a row at the Queen’s Birthday Ball!

8 June 2011

Seoul, capital of South Korea, is pretty much the band’s third home (pipped to the post by America!). We love it there. Our relationship with the British Association Of Seoul goes back to 2006 – when they first booked us to headline at their Brit-themed Queen’s Birthday Ball – and, in the years since then, the QBB has become a major fixture on the LYs’ calendar.

The event has some pretty high-end sponsors – companies like HSBC, Chanel, Pernod Ricard and British Airways – and every year the committee deck out the Grand Hyatt according to a different theme. During our time there we’ve seen The Chelsea Flower Show (where each table had its own functioning mini water-feature!), Phantom Of The Opera, Harry Potter, The Great British Seaside, The Golden Age Of Cruise Ships and Alice In Wonderland.

It’s an absolutely terrific event and we love being a part of it.

The dancefloor was heaving…

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As you can see from the photo above, as always the dancefloor was heaving at this year’s ball. Ex-pats in Seoul don’t get a huge amount of British culture throughout the year, so the chance to boogie to a UK band is one they generally grasp with both hands! The crowds have always been brilliant at the QBB – they really make the event.

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The band’s favourite jacuzzi

We’d be lying if we said that staying in five-star hotels, being wined and dined and living it up South Korea-style for a week isn’t one of the big attractions of the Queen’s Birthday Ball for The Lightyears! It’s become a tradition for us to end the tour in our rooftop jacuzzi at the Somerset Palace – a tradition that I hope long continues…

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Chris Lightyear

Click here to see The Lightyears’ South Korea photo album

A gig on a floating island in Istanbul

29 March 2011

We’ve never performed in Turkey before, so we were mightily excited to be asked by Hilton Hotels to fly over to Istanbul for a few days and headline at their annual conference. We were booked to perform on a floating island in the middle of the Bosphorus, at an events centre and cocktail bar called Suada, which was definitely a first for us!

The LYs take to the stage

As I said, this was the first floating gig we’ve ever played, and I have to say I hope it isn’t the last. As we whipped through a high-octane set of infectious floor-filling covers, the (by now well-oiled) crowd of international delegates didn’t waste any time cutting some epic shapes in front of us. We played our hearts out, worked up quite a sweat and, as the sun went down over the Bosphorus, I found myself thinking (more than once): “Hang on… this is my job?“. 🙂

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Although our set eventually came to an end, the night was far from over. We were invited onto the tour bus for an impromptu on-the-road acoustic show and, what’s more, asked to hit the outdoor bar at the Istanbul Hilton – with the party survivors – for an awesome three-hour singalong in the dark…

Late-night singalong in the hotel bar!

This was where things really started to kick off! George and I stood up on chairs, completely unplugged, and began racing through bona fide classics from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Monkees and more. The crowd were singing their hearts out and, separated from his drum-kit, Tony was playing along on a set of pots and pans he’d been lent by the kitchen staff. What a night! And thanks to all our friends at Hilton International for flying us over.

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Chris Lightyear

Click here to see The Lightyears’ Istanbul photo album

The Lightyears rock America!

24 July 2010

We’ve been touring to the USA since 2006, and are always amazed and delighted when so many people turn up at our American shows! Our 2010 tour was no different – we met some wonderful people, played some great shows and ate some fantastic sandwiches. Here are just a few of the highlights…

Sell-out in New Jersey…

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The Burlington Amphitheatre in New Jersey is a real favourite of ours. People come from all across the community to enjoy music in the open-air, and the atmosphere is always fantastic. What’s more, after the gig fans are always really keen to come up and meet us, purchase merchandise and get their hands on autographs – as you can see from the queue Tony is fielding in the photograph below!

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Rocking the Big Apple

Playing in New York is a rite of passage for any band. We’ve been lucky enough to perform several times right in the centre of the city, in Union Square, smack-bang in the middle of all the Manhattan madness. The sweltering heat can be a challenge (especially when combined with jet-lag!) but the optimum position right by the subway exit always makes for a big crowd and – as New Yorkers would say – a super-exciting show.

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Double-page spread in the NY Daily News

We headlined at the Astoria Park Concert Series for the first time this year – 2,000 people turned up and, what’s more, we were delighted to receive a glowing double-page spread in the New York Daily News the following week! Splendid stuff. You can see the piece in full detail by clicking here.

We’ll be back soon, America! Can’t wait. x

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Chris Lightyear

Click here to see The Lightyears’ USA tour photo album

The Lightyears play Wembley Stadium

14 September 2009

Well, that was a dream fulfilled – we just played Wembley Stadium in front of 45,000 people!

We took a camera with us, filmed our whacky on- and off-stage exploits and turned them into a new episode of LY-TV – an exclusive behind-the-scenes record of our first ever gig at Wembley. Check it out below…


Stepping onto the pitch…

The whole day was pretty surreal. The first gig George and I ever went to was Bon Jovi at Wembley, when we were teenagers, and we vowed at the time that one day we would play here. And while we’re not exactly Bon Jovi, we have somehow managed to make it to the stadium, and that’s definitely enough for us!

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We’d been booked by Saracens RFC to open the show at their match against Northampton Saints – supporting Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity – and a huge crowd was expected. Arriving in the morning, we made our way through the labyrinthine tunnels underneath the stands and emerged into the sun, en route to our soundcheck. It’s difficult to describe the feeling of stepping out onto that pitch for the first time. It’s impossibly epic.

We all knew this would be the biggest thing we’ve ever done.

“Hello Wembley…!”

A certain amount of inter-band bartering went on backstage with regard to who was going to be given the important task of saying “Hello Wembley!” before our first song. It went to Tony in the end, perhaps because he’s the most senior member of the band, but more likely because he would be the scariest in a fight. Either way, when we took to the stage in the glorious afternoon heat, we were well and truly ready to take on our largest ever crowd.

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The set passed in a blur. Personally, I spent much of it trying not to watch myself on the big screens (I did at least manage to avoid mouthing “hello mum”, so that was a victory of sorts). After knocking out spirited renditions of Chelsea Dagger, I Gotta Feeling and Twist & Shout – surrounded by 80 pom-pom waving cheerleaders – we left the stage to spirited applause and tumbled backstage, still not fully believing that we had just fulfilled a lifelong dream of performing at Wembley.

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Saracens have told us they want us back for another four Wembley shows over the coming months, which is rather exciting. Technically, you might call that a residency… 😉

Chris Lightyear

Click here to see The Lightyears’ Wembley Stadium photo album

The Lightyears perform for Manchester United

5 August 2008

We’ve been lucky enough to meet some huge sporting legends in our time – and last week we got the chance to share a football pitch with Manchester United and Peterborough United at London Road Stadium. We were invited to perform on the pitch before the game kicked off, and while we were there we shot this episode of LY-TV… behind-the-scenes at our first ever stadium gig.

Peterborough is united…

A crowd of 12,000 people were there to see The Posh take on the might of Man Utd, and we certainly won’t going to disappoint. We took to the stage (well, I say stage – it’s not often that our stage has turf) and fired out a string of stirring, high-energy covers from Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now to Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls Of Fire. If you’ve never played a gig in a stadium, I can heartily recommend it. The wind in your hair, the cheering crowds, the great outdoors – ruddy lovely.

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Dodging Rio Ferdinand

There was something inescapably bizarre about rocking out on the pitch while sporting legends Rio Ferdinand, Carlos Tevez and Dutch keeper Van Der Saar (who funnily enough we also met in a lift on tour in South Korea last year!) trained up around us. Fortunately, nobody kicked any balls directly at us, and we were able to finish our set in style, then settle back with a cold beer to watch the match unfold.

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At the end of the day, despite hanging on admirably for much of the game, underdogs Peterborough were eventually beaten 2-0 by the giants in Red. However, everyone had a cracking day and we’ve been invited back for another stadium performance later in the year! Cracking stuff.

Chris Lightyear