2 long flights. 3 intercity trains. 1 private car service from Brighton to Manchester due to national train strike. 1 ultra-crazy taxi cab ride in soaking rain in Manchester where our driver drives on the pavement saying it is his “special move”! And, ladies and gentlemen, a group of crazy groupies, or in Damian’s kind words “crazy front row ladies” have completed a three day travel to his gigs in Brighton, Manchester, and Leeds in the middle of a national train strike. So, similar to the postal carrier’s motto, our motto goes like:
“Neither rain, nor distance, nor strikes, nor crazy cab drivers shall keep the Damian Lewis groupies from the gigs!”
I am thrilled to report that the gigs get better and better every time. The musicians supporting Damian on stage are ridiculously talented and giving their all to the music: Dave Archer on guitar, Will Cleasby on drums, Joe Webb on piano (Jamie Saffir replaces Joe in Manchester), Kitty Liv on harmonica and vocals, and Flo Moore on bass. Damian keeps writing music and his new originals are brilliant. If he keeps writing such fantastic songs, the second record can even be a stronger one than the critics’ darling Mission Creep. Oh, and there is a signing after every gig. And Damian, always very gracious with his fans, makes time for everyone, signs merchandise, gives autographs and has photos taken with whoever asks for it. He makes sure every single person goes home happy. And it goes without saying we are endlessly grateful to Damian for making a bit of extra special time for his crazy front row ladies for a brief chat.
Oh and the support act… THE best support act ever! Kitty Liv is seriously a reason to go see a Damian Lewis gig. She is the support act in most of the gigs on the UK tour and we feel extremely lucky to see her performance three back-to-back days. A North Londoner, Kitty is a brilliant musician, plays multiple instruments including the guitar and the harmonica, she writes her own songs, and she is certainly going places. I know I will say one day, when she becomes a big name, that I saw her when she was supporting Damian Lewis. And if you think I may be biased, please see the video below from the Manchester gig and make your own decision.
Before getting to the details of each show, I would like to thank a number of people to make this weekend so awesome, crazy, marvelous! HUGE THANKS go to my brilliant fan friends I met thanks to Damian over the years: Tsvete, Monique, Darlene, Hellie, Katrin, Katalin, Zia, Meg, and some other lovely people whose names sadly escape me who collectively made this an experience of a lifetime. And now that we have followed the band from city to city, do we count as groupies? I can hear Gingersnap say:
“Yes! The whole lot of ya!”
We wake up to a sunny, wonderful day in Brighton. And since it is a long wait until the one and only Damian Lewis makes Brighton brighter, we take a long walk on the promenade appreciating this lively sea resort.
Per our tradition, we are at the venue two hours before the doors open to make sure we are the first in and we are the first in! I am proud to present our front row crazy ladies club – Brighton version!
And here is how our rockstar makes his entrance.
Damian says hi and asks about the final score in golf 😀 He is talking about Ryder Cup where Team Europe has played against Team U.S and won. Then he asks about who loves football and who loves rugby, and believe it or not, this is a rugby crowd!
Damian and the band go straight into Down on the Bowery, followed by Zaragoza. And thanks go to the photographer who has taken the picture below: It is yours truly clapping and Tsvete holding a poster expressing her feelings about Zaragoza.
This is my 6th gig which you can see on Damian’s note on the set list I grab at the end of the show below 🙂 The set list works perfectly with Damian and the band gradually building the tempo up, and keeping things interesting by varying the mood throughout the evening. This is obviously my personal take on the set list. I would so love to ask Damian about how they put the set list together should I have the opportunity one day.
When someone from the crowd asks after Giacomo Smith who is not with the band this weekend, Damian jokingly says:
“He was supposed to support us here tonight.”
But the thing is that Giacomo is a new father and I think the little one is keeping him from “stay away” gigs <3
As the music boosts the energy level in the room, I love it that Damian hangs his guitar on his back as he sings Never Judge a Man By His Umbrella and Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London and plays Kitty’s tambourine. Kitty asking Damian to return her tambourine at the end of the song makes the crowd laugh!
Oh, and I should tell you about our arts and craft project! We the crazy front row gang also have a third grade arts and craft project ready for the gigs. Six of us in the front row hold huge letters D-A-M-I-A-N and dance to Harvest Moon and flip the letters in the middle of the song to have W-E-HEART-Y-O-U! We get a lot of laughter from the audience and an “I love you, too” from our guy in Brighton! I really wish someone had taken a picture of us. But I have a picture from the night before as we worked on it so you can have an idea about how it looks! 🙂
Damian tells a story about being in LA back in 2001 at a g anig with up-and-coming band called Cold Play 🙂 And Chris Martin tells the audience that his dad asks him why his gigs are not longer and Chris admits that is so because they do not have more songs. We do not know if Damian’s dad questions the length of his gigs, but now there are three fantastic new songs all of which we have here for you and Damian’s gigs are now longer, they are an hour and a half.
The first new original is Pentonville Prison (formerly titled Fate and premiered at Union Chapel back in July) for you. Monique has reminded me that Damian had a terrible motorcycle crash in which he went straight into the windscreen of a car outside Pentonville Prison in his 20s. So we think the song is about this accident. Damian once said in an interview that he was lucky that he was wearing a helmet when he had the accident. And we are infinitely thankful!
And here is Traffic Jam whose fun lyrics that get laughs from the audience!
The last new song of the evening comes in the encore: She Make Me Change. It is the most rock’n’roll-y, Elvis-y of the bunch and my absolute favorite!
There is a national train strike next day. So I make sure to tell Damian at the signing that we have arranged a car service to catch the gig in Manchester but in case it does not work out we have plan B: car rental! But the thing is that I have never driven on the “wrong side” of the road and so if I die and cannot make it to Manchester, it is on him! 🙂 “So”, Damian says, “if I don’t see you in the front row in Manchester…” and he adds:
“Do not die tomorrow. Then I have to cancel my concert!”
And he asks how much we are paying for the private car ride since he knows how expensive they are!!! And when I say we are paying a fortune, his answer:
“Best things in life are expensive.”
TRUE. And sometimes, like in this case, totally worth it. I am not someone that would spend money, say, on a luxury purse, but I am more than willing to spend on experience. And this one is the BEST experience I could think of!
And while best things in life are expensive, some of the best things in life are priceless. Like how Damian introduces me to his cousin who is there to cheer him on at The Old Market with her family.
“Bahar has been running my fan site unofficially and she’s become part of the family.”
My gift of the day is a custom-made “one of one” Funko Pop that I designed and named Damian Rockstar. I give it to Damian on behalf of the front row crazy ladies 🙂 He loves it and shows it to his cousin:
“It came to this.”
The lady is probably thinking I am seriously crazy 😀 😀 😀
I wish Funko Pop let you choose a vest or purple socks to make the little guy look even more like Damian the Rockstar but this will do for now!
And look at these lovely Mission Creep guitar picks Monique has had custom-made for Damian!
Damian asks everyone in our entourage where she lives. And he says to Katalina who is from Budapest:
“Budapest. You’re new. You’ve just joined the crazy front row gang.”
When I tell Damian that my husband and I are living in Chicago for a year and loving it, he says his dad lived in Chicago for 5 years in 1960s. Then I say that I will stay for a few days after the Leeds concert to see him and Indira Varma acting extracts from Noel Coward’s London Calling! as part of the Noel Coward Centenary Celebration at Duke of York’s Theatre. Damian says his dad will be there. OMG I am so excited already about the possibility of meeting Mr. Watcyn Lewis! My review of that charming performance is coming to Fan Fun in a couple of days with a big surprise attached! 🙂 Oh and I have to add my rockstar has told me that I had a rocker chic look and it suited me 😀 I mean – how can I not love this man who knows how to compliment a lady?
And with that, Damian, as witty and charming as the man in Never Judge A Man By His Umbrella, turns around, blows a kiss, says he loves us and leaves! 🙂
I have never been to Manchester before. And while it is quite stressful to arrange travel on the day of a national train strike, I would like to thank Blacklane Private Car Service for delivering exactly as promised. Our driver Phil is a delight and he is very excited that we are on the road just to see Damian Lewis on stage! “You should be ride-and-die” he says. Duh!
And in addition to the most awesome, crazy, amazing Damian Lewis gig to date at Band on the Wall, I will remember two things from Manchester: the non-stop rain that makes a lot of people wait patiently outside the venue until the doors open and the crazy cab driver that literally drives on the pavement to get us to the venue and calls it his “special move.” YIKES!
The crazy front row ladies club have new members in Manchester 🙂 Darlene who was with us at Hoxton Hall back in March comes all the way from NYC like me. And Katrin, whom we meet in line in Manchester and click with immediately.
Damian says at the beginning of the gig that he once filmed in Manchester: Yes! He filmed Stolen, a harrowing TV drama, made in 2011 for BBC One, that focuses on the problem of child trafficking back in 2011.
And he talks football. This is Britain after all, people love their footie, and hey, Manchester has two great football clubs in the Premier League: Manchester United and Manchester City.
“This is our first single.”
Damian apologizes to the crowd for making them wait in the rain. They had an “arse of a journey” from London and arrived late at the venue and because they had to set up the musical equipment and have sound check, people had to wait outside in the rain for a bit longer than they were supposed to. But they did. It is full house at Band on the Wall. And Damian rightly says “We love you, Manchester!” because the energy and enthusiasm this crowd brings is very special. This is the BEST gig to date. Live performances depend on many factors, one being the energy in the room. The crowd at Band on the Wall bring such a great vibe that make both Damian and the band as well as us the audience let it all hang out. I personally do not remember singing and dancing that crazy ever except for at home 🙂
“This one is about spies.”
I am sorry if you can hear me singing along in the video, and you probably do, because I am filming, dancing and singing! Since I know the full lyrics to all songs on the album, I cannot help sing along at the gigs. I ask Damian later if he could see that because I really do not know if the artist on stage can see the audience. And he says yes and that he is very pleased with it. And he added: “I saw you dancing, too.” 😀
“Wouldn’t it be nice to grow old in Paris? ….or in Manchester?”
A young woman, who was obviously drunk, screamed on top of her lungs asking Damian to sing a Britney Spear song… many times! I mean, it may be funny if you did it once, but twice, thrice and counting… UGH. I am so impressed with Damian who handles the situation very well.
“She was the support act. She did not turn up.”
I am still laughing.
“This one is about ghosts.”
I am a huge jazz fan. So I am in love with the jazz feel in She Comes. But more than anything I am in awe of the amazing poet that Damian is. The lyrics are so personal, so poignant, so powerful. It gives me chills.
As they return to stage for the encore, Damian quotes the great Maya Angelou:
“Everything in the universe has a rhythm. Everything dances.”
So we dance to Damian’s fantastic new song She Make Me Change! Then he talks about J.J. Cale as a big influence on his music.
“I love this man. J.J. Cale. You know this one.”
And with After Midnight, we move into the night, ahem, into signing! And the first thing Damian says with a grin when he sees us:
“You made it.”
And when Tsvete gives Damian an “I was there” magnet to sign, there is a funny exchange between them:
Beware, Damian! I am getting selfie requests, too 🙂
Tsvete also gives Damian a copy of the Little Prince in which the first exchange between the Little Prince and the narrator goes as follows;
“If you please–draw me a sheep!”
“Draw me a sheep!”
And Damian does it: even though I think it looks more like a chicken, Tsvete believes it is a mythological creature with extraordinary powers!
My gift of the day is a beer glass with Axe’s famous “FU money” line on it as a tribute to Billions and to the day I first met him on Billions set as he was filming that very scene! I cannot believe it was more than 8 years ago!
And here is Damian thanking me for the beer glass and thanking ALL OF YOU for going to his gigs, visiting damian-lewis.com and fanfunwithdamianlewis.com and supporting him!
And here is our rockstar with the “crazy ladies” he mentions in the video. Thank God Damian has long arms because the damn selfie stick does not work properly!
It may be the third day but the crazy front row ladies are ready and excited as ever for the sold out gig at Brudenell Social Club.
Here is Damian making his entrance.
He is very happy to play at the legendary Brudenell Social Club. The club has two concert venues and A Flock of Seagulls is playing next door. And Damian says he cannot keep his eyes off the door to see who is leaving and who is coming 🙂
He shows off his Spanish in Zaragoza.
“Zaragoza. You say Cerveza… Otra Vez.”
For those of you that do not speak Spanish… Cerveza is beer!
Damian talks about the gig in Manchester the previous night and that he knew they would find the best crowds across the Pennines 🙂 And I confess while it has been more than two weeks since Manchester, I am still wearing my Band on the Wall wrist band. That was one wild gig!
And here is one wild song for you! A cover of Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon, a song that Gingersnap and I find right for Damian’s captivating, husky tone, and our guy is on FIRE!
“Jerry Roll Morton, anyone? Leon Redbone? This is our cover of Leon Redbone’s cover of Jerry Roll Morton’s Why.”
Honestly, I did not know how Why would work without Giacomo on stage since he has an amazing clarinet solo in the song, but thanks to Joe’s superb piano solo, the song is as strong as ever. Hats off!
And I love the way he ends the concert with After Midnight.
“Get your groove on. Let’s move into the night together. Thank you for coming.”
The regular followers of the blog know about my blog mate Gingersnap who has been working her ass of for years. And while Damian appreciates her work a lot, there has been no real opportunity for them to meet. And it occurs to me that if they cannot meet in person, they can meet on the phone and I ask Damian if we could arrange a phone call with Gingersnap. He agrees and so an evening before I tell Gingersnap that the girls want to hear her voice and that we will call her after the gig in Leeds.
AND WE DO!!!!!!
After they hang up, I get a Whatsapp message from Gingersnap.
“YOU ARE NUTS.”
And she tweets!
😀 😀 😀
I have to finish this post with the most priceless moment for me at the UK tour. When I give Damian the set list for Leeds to sign “Number 8” because it is the eighth gig I am at, I also give him my most favorite picture of him in character – HUGE thanks go to Darlene for printing that picture for me months ago- for him to write me a note from Brody. Not only those of you that follow Fan Fun closely but also Damian himself knows that Nick Brody changed my life. I was a regular academic attending to my own thing until a red-headed Brit disguised as an American Marine and POW hit me like a truck… Brody single-handedly made me a ride-or-die Damian Lewis fan and a blogger, too. I literally cried more than Carrie when he died in the show, started a blog to cope with Brody’s death and to support the actor who brilliantly portrayed my Brody on screen… and I have this fantasy that Brody is alive (we did not see a dead body!) and lives in Iran with a woman called Bahar since Bahar is originally a Persian name 🙂
And, yes, this may be just a piece of paper but it’s my most precious possession!!!!
Call me Carrie 🙂
So, ladies and gentlemen, it has taken me two weeks but this is all I remember from the most amazing, fantastic and thrilling weekend with Damian and his brilliant band.
And here is Damian’s Instagram summary of the weekend!
And here is Will’s. Pay attention to the Casamigos Tequila in play! I gave it to Damian in Brighton and he said that it would go on the tour with the band. It obviously did 🙂 ENJOY! I will make sure to bring another one to the next gig!