Summer music festivals: On the road with Attic Lights, part four

Colin squares up to a bass amp during soundcheck
Colin squares up to a bass amp during soundcheck

First published on

The day of our show at the Benicassim festival in Spain and I found myself alone in the dressing room a couple of hours before we went onstage.

There was a knock on the door and two guys introduced themselves and came in. They were in charge of filming the performance and I had to fill out consent forms for them. As they were leaving, Tim and Jim arrived back in the dressing room and I ‘went improv’ and claimed they were A&R guys for Sony and I’d just been offered a solo album deal with them.

Luckily the two guys played along with my charade, even managing not to laugh. They were brilliant. (Thanks guys. You can always rely on the complicity of random strangers to help wind up your mates.) Amazingly I managed to keep this pretence up for quite some time. Well, for a few minutes until one of the guys came back because I’d filled out the wrong form. Busted!

Perhaps me deciding to wear my jacket on stage in the searing heat was a step too far? But I do like my current “Dandy Highwayman” stage gear. I was willing to risk possible heatstroke just so I could look like a foppish Elizabethan criminal. And, of course, carry on the metaphorical baton that Adam Ant has unknowingly passed to me. Next up, I think, should be the stripey facepaint.

The gig was a truly brilliant experience. Great fun and a tremendously enthusiastic crowd. I love seeing people singing along and dancing as you perform. It makes the band play better. It’s like a loop of self-generating energy passing back and forth between performer and audience, building in intensity until everyone is completely hyper and the love is flowing from both directions. Those are the gigs you always remember. General consensus is that we played one of our best ever shows. Attic Lights heart Benicassim. Now and forever.

I even improvised two new shuffly onstage dance manoeuvres that the rest of the band have dubbed, “Magic Hands” and “The Sherry Shake.” We are hoping the “Sherry Shake” will catch on and soon be seen on dance floors around the world. It’s The Time Warp for a new generation. (Actually, it’s probably nearer the hokey cokey if I’m being honest.)

Hanni El Khatib, the act who came on directly after us, looked genuinely worried at the state of me when I came off stage. “You wore THAT jacket in THIS heat? Dude?” I was on the verge of fainting by that point and they kindly handed me some water. They were a bunch of big friendly Californians who were buzzing on a major high having just learned they’d been booked to play one of the biggest chat shows in the US (which I can’t tell you the name of because they’ve not done it yet but I’m sure you could make an educated guess). Great band, great guys. Everyone is so polite and smiley in the backstage zone.

Liam Gallagher is a lovely man. Colin can attest to this having stood chatting to him outside the gents toilets. The slanting gradient of the ground where they were standing was, peculiarly, the subject of their five-minute conversation. Not what you’d expect really. It looks like he’s got a thing for geology. (He’s also really, really tall. Liam… not Colin.)

Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie looked really nervous before his set – which surprised me considering he has probably played more gigs in his life than I’ve had hot dinners.

However, on stage he was completely different. I was standing side of stage during their set and it was truly phenomenal. When hardened roadies, stagehands, soundmen and lighting guys are all standing watching the show with looks of amazement on their faces, you know you’re watching a band at the peak of their powers.

Primal Scream were, without doubt, my highlight of the festival (aside from Scots indie warblers Attic Lights obviously).

The Spanish like to party hard. The final bus to the Artist hotel left the festival at 7am – just as the backstage party was winding down. Not that I was there. The combination of heat and my Dandy Highwayman suit had used up all of my energy and I got the 2.30am bus back to the hotel.

I realised it was time to go when I too, began noticing Liam Gallagher’s slanting ground outside the toilets. Except I was standing at different toilets. And I’m sure the ground wasn’t slanted the last time I’d been there. “Taxi for Sherry!”

It was time to say goodbye to Benicassim – one of the truly great festivals in Europe. Adios amigos. Until next time.

Original STV article

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