The past nine days have been really great.
Photo of The Rocket Summer at Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms, 02/06/10, by Tom Price.
Last Tuesday I played at The Joiners in Southampton with some amazing bands. Although the gig was’t at all busy, I haven’t played such a pleasant gig with such talented artists for ages. Matt Reynolds played the best solo set I’ve ever seen him play, with his new songs taking on an intimate Bon Iver-esque vibe. I also got to see the keyboard-tastic Stars and Sons who looked like they were having loads of fun on stage without looking gimmicky, which is pretty rare. Finally I was treated to The Candle Thieves, who put on the best ‘performance’ that I’ve seen in so long! They decorated the stage with lights, bears, inflatable sharks and toy instruments, all of which were themed to their lyrics and tied in with different aspects of their songs. There was so much thought and care taken in every little bit of what happened, and whereas before I might have found their songs slightly irksome (sorry guys, I love you now) the album came to life in a way that just tied everything together and made me fall in love with them! So great!
On Wednesday I went to see my friends in Failsafe support Rx Bandits, again at The Joiners. This was dead exciting because Rx Bandits have been one of my favourite bands since I was fifteen or something, and Failsafe are one of the nicest bands that I’ve ever met on tour, ever since they stayed at my parents’ house after they played in Worcester back in 2005. My mum provided lots of cake and we’ve been firm friends ever since. So that was that. We never get to see each other because we’re always on tour when the other one is touring, but they’d come to see me the night before so we got to spend two whole nights together! I went to the gig with my lovely best friend David Shearn, which again felt all warm and fuzzy because we saw Rx Bandits at The Nexus in Southampton back in our first year of university in 2005, and now we were doing it in Dave’s final year of being a medical student, five whole years later. The gig was INCREDIBLE. Failsafe are tighter than a camel’s ass in a sandstorm and their new songs sound amazing. Rx Bandits are a lesson in good musicianship. Relentlessly, brutally, painfully good for well over an hour of hard rocking. They are, quite literally, a mind-blowing band. I also got to see Mike Foster who is responsible for this video as well as playing bass for me on my first tour of Europe in 2008. He is genuinely the funniest man I know. He once wiped his ass on a chicken and bacon sandwich because there was no toilet roll available. Hero.
On Thursday I had the privilege of playing on yet another incredible line-up, this time at New Slang in Kingston. I opened the show, followed by The Xcerts, Tiger Please, Fun and Crazy Arm. Three of those bands featured in my top ten albums list from 2009, and I’ve only recently got into Tiger Please but they are great too. It’s such a privilege when you get to play on a line-up that is so strong. I played to an almost-empty room because Set Your Goals and New Found Glory were playing at a TINY venue down the road (standard) at the same time, but it was a good gig nonetheless. It was made all the better when Nate from Fun said that he and the Fun guys had been watching from the back and had absolutely loved the set. That was massively humbling because I’ve been listening to Nate make music since I was fifteen or something. He is great. Everyone who played was incredible, especially The Xcerts whose new songs kind of sound like Pinkerton-era Weezer (and that is a great thing). Then Sam Little (who had come along to do my merch, great guy) and I hung out with Chad Gilbert from New Found Glory and I gave him a copy of my album. He’s definitely going to be making out to that album with Hayley.
On Friday I played a university gig at York University. Normally it’s really difficult to keep a crowd’s attention at a uni gig because everyone is too busy trying to get drunk/laid but this one was actually okay and everyone there was very nice. I also got to hang out with Tim and Sam who were playing in York on the same night, and we went to a shop where they only sell a variety of hot meats and potatoes for dinner. I had the biggest pork roll of my life along with about twenty potatoes. After my gig had finished at midnight I drove to stay at Scott from The Candle Thieves’ house in Stamford. Some people don’t really like the internet, but I personally think it’s amazing. A few days before, I had posted on Twitter that I needed a place to stay along the A1 on Friday night ready for my flight out of Stansted on Saturday morning, and Scott (despite the fact that he’d only met me once) offered up his house to stay in. How would I have done that before the internet? It just wouldn’t have happened. The internet is a beautiful connector.
So I went to bed at 3:00 in the morning knowing that I had to be up at 7:00 to drive to Stansted Airport. I don’t know about you, but when I know that it’s REALLY IMPORTANT that I get to sleep because I have something important to do in the morning, it inevitably means that you can’t get to sleep. So I didn’t really sleep. I woke up at 7:00 feeling absolutely tragic and set off for the airport. My reason for going to Stansted was because I was flying out to my favourite German city, Muenster, to play a surprise 30th birthday party gig for a guy called Oli. Casual. I was met by his friends at the airport and we went to the venue to sort out the equipment. After sorting that out I bummed around Muenster for a few hours until the party was starting, then went back and surprised Oli. He was pretty surprised.
It was quite a surreal evening because apparently I’m Oli’s favourite artist apart from Oasis, so me playing there was the equivalent of me having Ben Folds play at my birthday party. That’s a surreal, humbling feeling. It’s possibly also slightly worrying that I’m attracting Oasis fans to my music, but I’ll worry about that another time. The party was amazing. I played at midnight for an hour and a half (which was quite a feat after not sleeping the night before) and then we partied hard, German style. It was an open bar and it’s fair to say that we hit it hard. I think we were drinking until 4:00 or 5:00 and then we went to get a kebab at 6:30 (I took a photo because it was sufficiently amusing). I can safely say that I’ve never had a kebab at 6:30 in the morning before. By this point I was very tired and could barely place one foot in front of the other to walk to Oli’s flat (due to tiredness, not drunkenness, I hasten to add). Anyway, I fell asleep at Oli’s for an hour and then headed back to the airport at 7:45, still a bit drunk, having not slept for two nights, and smelling strongly of onion from my very onion-y kebab. I have never felt so tired in all my life. And that was that, Germany and back for a birthday gig in 24 hours. Efficient. (On which note if you want me to play at your birthday party, I genuinely will travel anywhere. Just send me an email. That’s all it takes. luke at lukeleighfield dot com.)
On Sunday I went to stay at my friend Del’s house in Kingston. I slept for a long time and we ate lots of pasta in preparation for our 10K run on Monday in London. Del calls this “carb-loading”. We loaded those carbs.
On Monday Del and I woke up super early to catch a train into London for our run. I still felt pretty tired from the weekend but I managed to do the run in 49 minutes and 49 seconds. I was pretty nervous about the run because I hadn’t been able to train for the past few weeks due to pulling some ligaments in my knee, but I actually managed to run pretty well for the vast majority of the race, right up until the last kilometre where I felt like I was going to CHUNDER EVERYWAH. I felt so weak. Anyway, I managed to get over the line and you guys sponsored me an obscene amount of money, so thank you!
We had a few photos taken then went back to Del’s to shower, before racing back in to London in my car to catch Lee Mitchell’s set at The Old Queens Head in Islington at 3:00. Despite releasing Lee’s single on my label Got Got Need Records last month, I’ve never actually seen Lee play live. True story. Thankfully he is very good. Del, Lee, Lee’s girlfriend Emmah and I all went out for food. I felt so ill from the weekend and Emmah was ill too so we just sat around feeling ill. I played at The Old Queens Head at 7:00 (it was an indie all-day gig thing) and had the usual joy of playing a London gig to a roomful of hipsters who would rather compare their scenester moustaches rather than listen to music. Alas, that’s London. I was grateful to be playing nonetheless. We went out for food again to a place that only serves sausages (what a great idea) and ate sausages. Then Emmah and I travelled back to Hampshire and I tried not to fall asleep at the wheel.
On Tuesday I answered emails, slept, and felt awful. My legs hurt something rotten.
On Wednesday I went to see my all-time favourite band The Rocket Summer at The Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth. I was kind of nervous about the gig because bands are rarely as good live as they are on record, and The Rocket Summer’s latest album Of Men and Angels has become my all-time favourite album over the past few months. So yeah, I didn’t want it to be rubbish and then for me to feel sad. However (despite a lacklustre drummer) the gig was amazing. It’s so refreshing to see an artist whose songs actually mean something, and who performs with integrity, honesty, humility, passion, power and above all, talent. There are so many people out there making music but so few people actually have anything to say, or want to elicit any kind of positive change. The set was so full of hope and positivity, and Bryce genuinely made his crowd feel special and valued. Bands often thank their crowds for coming, but how many of them actually realise that they’re nothing without their fans? I think Bryce gets it, and that was so good to see. Anyway, thank you Bryce for capping off an incredible few days and for making beautiful music.
If uplifting pop-rock is your thing, and it probably is, then you should check out the new Rocket Summer album on Spotify right here. It’s my favourite album. Maybe you will like it too.