I was invited by Ryan Gittoes, the lead singer of the Lamplights group.
Double checking that I haven’t forgotten the vital instruments for my next journey, I close my eyes before reaching for the car key.
The human instruments of sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch, a camera and a tape recorder. Am I in a state of conscious awareness? I got into the car and drove out of the garage. Driving along the highway, I found myself lost in traffic and my own thoughts, pondering the coming events of the evening. Turning left onto Marine Parade along the Pacific Ocean I noticed a huge, metal eagle watching tirelessly from the top of a hill before Mantra Coolangatta Beach. It was the perfect signal for me to get ready to absorb, observe and report back to my readers what the heck I was doing there alone on a Friday evening after 7 pm.
I was invited by Ryan Gittoes, the lead singer of the Lamplights group.
I parked comfortably and walked straight forward. The difference between the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise and my current destination was striking. No massively moving crowds of people, no screaming voices from every direction, no traffic jams and plenty of available parking spots. The sheer pleasure of moving around quite freely and enjoying the space, gave me the advantage of being able to walk around and get familiar with my surroundings. I was 30 minutes early.
Right opposite the Coolangatta Sands Hotel was the Never Land Bar guarded by a young and tough looking man.
“Hi, this is a very catchy name. Can you tell me what exactly this place is all about?”
“I’m Bobby, a security guard and this is a very friendly night club, with many DJs coming to inspire people to dance.”
“Hi Bobby, how’s it going?” asked three well dressed man who were passing by.
“Fine! Enjoy your evening!” Replied the well mannered Bobby before turning back to me. “I know everybody around. I have been in this industry for the last eight years. Where are you going today?”
“I am looking for The Patch Lounge, Lamplights Album Launch event. Do you know which door I should be heading through?” I asked.
“Right there, on the left of the Hotel corner. You will not miss it. Have a good evening and you‘re welcome to come to our club anytime.”
I certainly could not miss the classy banner with the name and red carpet in front. I felt an instant change. Now, I was in a state of excitement and confidently stepped through the door. After the formalities of being recognised and welcomed as an invited guest, I went straight to find an appropriate place to take in all possible developments.
Glancing around, I noticed very high ceilings, full glass windows on the street side, two big television screens, a clever combination of different styles of furniture, a huge impressive bar and a few randomly placed candles mixed with blue and red dimmed light; all creating a sophisticated and relaxing atmosphere. Definitely to my liking. I can only tell you that The Patch Lounge is quite a sophisticated place to visit. Do try it!
I chose the Chesterfield sofa away from the entry door, close to the professionally set up stage for a place to sit. With a smartly placed little table lamp on an old radio in the right corner, I had found my base. Nice touch, I thought. To me it symbolized comfort and warmth. A phrase that was suggested on Facebook by mysterious fans of the Lamplights group in one of the comments I read to brief myself earlier. I remembered the commentator’s name, Belinda. She had described it insightfully correctly, as I was able to confirm later.
Ten minutes before the official beginning, I turned my attention to the couple sitting opposite me. Larry and Katya, from Surface Paradise. Not just dedicated fans but real followers of the Lamplights group. For the last few months, they went to every Lamplights performance since Larry heard their songs in a park on the Gold Coast. They fell in love with the music and lyrics of Lamplights’ songs. Larry’s favorite song is “The Capitan” and according to his wife “he feels this song with every cell of his body”. Katya loves “Halleluiah”, “Georgia” performed by Jason, and “Home Again” but she has actually learned every other song by heart. Once they started to pour their excitement onto me, of being there for the launch of the Lamplights album, they didn’t stop until the end of the evening. I finally ended up sitting next to them and observed that the most repeated phrase by Katya was “They are singing with their hearts”. This initially sounded like as cliché, but was later filled with real meaning. It was what she truly believed and felt, and what everybody experienced during the Lamplights’ soulful performance.
Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t interfere with my full alertness of everything that was going around me. The whole space was getting busier and louder with more than 100 people drinking and chatting. The man on stage was rapidly sliding his fingers like a pro along the neck of his guitar, increasing the speed of the rhythm, preparing us for the Lamplights group introduction. The three well dressed men who had said hello to Bobby (the security guard) I met earlier, were involved in deep conversation a few meters away. The sophisticated Nicole was happily greeting her friends with Moet Champagne on the table next to where I was sitting. This was her birthday. A suave man in glasses and a black shirt with a white skull (or mummy) picture noticeable from under his black jacket, was floating around hugging and kissing every woman in his path. It seemed he was unstoppable. Two gracious, young women in cocktail dresses, appeared quite funky with heavy country boots, cheekily breaking down the classical style. They were talking to a Summery dressed girl with wide open eyes, possibly gossiping.
Overall, most of the guests were edging nearer to the stage in anticipation. Long dresses, cocktail dresses and Summery dresses of all possible colors added to the vibrant crowd flavour, in extra celebration. Finally, making their appearance from the left side of the stage, the members of the Lamplights group: Ryan Gittoes, Jason McGregor, Ashley Perrow and JJ Harris. They acknowledged many who were present and who I assumed knew them already. A few supporting musicians were checking their instruments whilst the busy bar staff silently and professionally collected empty glasses from around the lounge. All of a sudden, an effective woman in a dark evening dress with a big red flower in her long, curly hair was helped to the stage. I believe her name was Amanda.
“Ladies and gentlemen” she said, casting her spell over the crowd who were fully ready to welcome the Lamplights. “…with soul and love, an incredibly special group from the Gold Coast. Their songs are full of heart, energy and love ready for this fascinating and loud room. I ask you to focus on the beautiful debut of the Lamplights album…I want to hear some music and this is going to be a night to remember.”
The euphoric mood of the crowd united us, projecting loud clapping, screaming, whistling and cheering. Their confidence in delivering joy to their audience took over their hearts and minds adding to the skillful handling of many different instruments. At some stage, I had lost count and title of the songs the Lamplights were singing, but it didn’t matter anymore. The crowd was totally rapt and enjoying the music and dancing whilst I was enjoying the full euphoria of happiness. I have to tell you that the song Georgia performed by Jason McGregor was my favourite. His powerful, yet velvety voice, penetrated my mind, body and heart instantly. With sadness and hope at the same time. It was so heart-breaking, deep and powerful, that I was almost crying at the end. Jason, with his own interpretation, made this old, popular song, so very beautiful and meaningful again. People were singing and dancing along in total trust of the musical lead.
Song after song the Lamplights felt the happy mood of the crowd and the crowd was giving them full satisfaction of loving their every song. The Lamplights album launch entered the next anticipated stage which we all know and call success. The outstanding performance of the newly created group was now cemented and recognised as talented and unique in their own right. I was absolutely sure that this was their pass to the top. No need for extra proof of their deserved popularity, when the crowd keeps musicians on stage for an extended 30 minute encore, before taking stock of how much they were already given. Amanda was right; it was a night to remember.
After 10 pm, I was hurrying back home in order to record my memories onto paper for my readers, smiling about the very last scene I had observed. The line of many fans, which had formed from the stage to the lounge entrance, thanking and hugging Ryan Gittoes on his way back to the change room made it clear. It was a very successful launch. This situation created quite a challenge for me too. I had to remind Ryan about a special interview planned for the next week. While he was treated like a real star, I didn’t want to take away his joy from all the glorious attention, so I waited. I waited politely for the right moment, confirmed with him and disappeared from the scene.
My warmest regards,
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