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Show Review

If you only knew what we went through to bring you our latest video from the front row. Creepy mascots, tighty-whitey cowboys, overly-aggressive questions about whether we like stand-up comedy, and of course, the hordes of clueless tourists (bless their heart), guide book in one hand, selfie stick in the other, pulled like mosquitos by the bright lights of Times Square, inadvertently into traffic speeding down Broadway. It was exhausting.

Once hunkered down in the glitzy digs of The Hard Rock Caf it was all magic though. For the last 15 years the internationally renowned burger chain has teamed up with celebs to help raise money and awareness as part of Hard Rock's breast cancer research fundraiser, Pinktober. On this particular early autumn evening, that meant an intimate and swanky performance by Canadian electropop superstar, Lights.

In our newest concert capture, Lights delights with a handful of scrumptious jams from her dazzling new album, Little Machines. Through the crack of the snare, the kick of the bass, and electronic skirmishes firing about, Lights beams...a true beacon of delectable pop, with plenty of sing-a-long opportunities to boot.

It was enough to warm our hardened, cynical, Times Square fearing New York hearts. Lucky for you this amazing show can now be had without the trip through NYC's most manic neighborhood.

Transcript

Oh, oh yeah.
Oh, ooh.
Oh, oh yeah.
Oh, oh.
Oh, oh yeah.
Oh, ooh.
Oh, oh yeah.
Oh, ohh.
Oh, oh yeah.
Oh, ooh.
Oh, oh yeah.
Ohhhh.
After having spent the fast year waiting for the next time I can get you close.
I grew used to being back here like a chorus and rhyme, soldier at his post.
You call and I respond, the sparrow and the song, I miss you when you're gone.
When I am alone, I see you in the dark.
I talk into the empty like you were with me.
Started on a cold night, felt you in the low light,
noticing a reflex taking over me.
I see you when I reach, muscle memory.
Again, off into the next fall.
I am on the back steps trying to let you in.
See you standing in the front hall, maybe this is madness
underneath my skin.
Guess love is the response of the body, it haunts and we do what it wants.
When I am alone, I see you in the dark.
I talk into the empty like you were with me.
Started on a cold night, felt you in the low light,
noticing a reflex taking over me.
I see you when I reach, muscle memory.
I feel you endlessly, muscle memory.
When you feel the chains of a thousand words
and I speak your name like I know you heard.
I can feel you there, I can hear you move.
And it moves me, too.
I'm playing games and I'm drinking wine.
I see your glass sitting next to mine.
I can feel you there when you're not at home.
Like I'm not alone.
When I am alone, I see you in the dark.
I talk into the empty like you were with me.
Started on a cold night, felt you in the low light,
noticing a reflex taking over me.
I see you when I reach, muscle memory.
I feel you endlessly, muscle memory.
Muscle memory.
Muscle memory.
- It's good to be back.
We were kind of feral, wicked little machines.
Captains and Cavalries forming empires in the shade of the trees.
Without hesitation, kings of the forest town.
Holding the ocean down we were half this heavy
and twice this loud.
So turn up the noise.
Dressed to the nines.
Running with the boys.
Your hand in mine.
Singing every song, loving every line, 'til the night is gone.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
Was what you made it.
We had our friends around.
All the images and sounds, super imposing to old backgrounds.
We used to be clumsy, lost in a thousand ways.
Captivated by the craze, those were hands down my favorite days.
So turn up the noise.
Dressed to the nines.
Running with the boys.
Your hand in mine.
Singing every song, loving every line, 'til the night is gone.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
Suspicion wasn't in our heads, it was only underneath the beds, beds.
Saline eyes didn't have to hide they were always open way too wide.
Way too wide.
So turn up the noise.
Dressed to the nines.
Running with the boys.
Your hand in mine.
Singing every song, loving every line, 'til the night is gone.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
Just like the old times.
We're gonna have it all.
Just like the old times.
We're gonna have it all.
- That was the first time I heard people sing along to that song and that was awesome.
Gone when you get stuck, sleeping when you wake up, lover on the other coast.
Off to the races, headed other places, chasing a familiar ghost.
No one said it would be this hard.
How could I know?
Why do we always get so far before we let go?
And we separate.
Nothing is the same forever.
See you drive away.
Wish I could make you stay.
Oh, oil and water.
Oh, oil and water.
Cycles, seasons, watching you leaving, thinking I could change the rules.
Rocks on the ocean, wheels in motion, wishing is a game of fools.
No one said it would be this hard.
How could I know?
Why do we always get so far before we let go?
And we separate.
Nothing is the same forever.
See you drive away.
Wish I could make you stay.
Oh, oil and water.
Oh, oil and water.
Kicking, screaming, softly speaking, near our parting ways.
We'll go under, oil and water always separate.
Kicking, screaming, softly speaking, near our parting ways.
We'll go under, oil and water always separate.
And we separate.
Nothing is the same forever.
See you drive away.
Wish I could make you stay.
Oh, oil and water.
Oh, oil and water.
Oh, oil and water.
Oh, oil and water.
Oh, oil and water.
Oh, oil and water.
Here in a familiar place.
We got our heads down
and we pretend it's cause the night is dark and running out of space.
For us to run around but it's a dead end,
and money's tight and it's been a long time of this.
Something has got to give.
Everyone here is ready to go.
It's been a hard year
with nothing to show from down this road.
It's only on we go, on we go.
Everyone here is ready to go.
It's been a hard year
and I only know from down this low.
It's only up we go, up we go.
Let's get on another flight.
Maybe set out to sea.
Kick it up and shake a fist at it.
Because death is harder to come by than it is to breathe
when you gotta make a break for it.
Because it's been a long time of this.
Something has got to give.
Everyone here is ready to go.
It's been a hard year
with nothing to show from down this road.
It's only on we go, on we go.
Everyone here is ready to go.
It's been a hard year
and I only know from down this low.
It's only up we go, up we go.
Nothing gives easy.
Easy gives nothing.
I'm just trying to keep income coming in.
Dawn is bound to break when the night is done.
Always darker days before brighter ones.
Everyone here is ready to go.
It's been a hard year
with nothing to show from down this road.
It's only on we go, on we go.
Everyone here is ready to go.
It's been a hard year
and I only know from down this low.
It's only up we go, up we go.
Maybe it's bricks and mortar now, whether or not they run it down.
I don't want anything to shake that shape away.
No one told us which way to come.
Nobody mapped oblivion.
So I go growing roses in the disarray.
Just like most, falling head in.
'Til my ghost fills the bed in.
So lift it up like a banner.
Hold it up over me.
If this war is neverending,
I'll take this love down with me.
Like a banner.
Like a banner. Come on.
I don't need fate to give it time, it doesn't take pain to change your mind.
No weapon can sever the soul from me.
Not the sorceress, not the money.
All my cleverness, all my cunning.
So lift it up like a banner.
Hold it up over me.
If this war is neverending,
I'll take this love down with me.
Like a banner.
Like a banner.
It's around me in my surroundings.
It counts me when it starts the counting.
In the chaos, there is a standard.
I'm carrying it like a banner.
It's around me in my surroundings.
It counts me when it starts the counting.
In the chaos, there is a standard.
I'm carrying it...
So lift it up like a banner.
Hold it up over me.
If this war is neverending,
I'll take this love down with me.
Hold it up over me.
If this war is neverending,
I'll take this love down with me.
This is the song I will sing to you when you're old and tired.
I will sing it to remind you that I'm old beside you.
And if you're tired of hearing my voice, I'm gonna sing it to you anyway.
'Cause I know that if we made it this far
those differences have been put away.
And I'll sing, oh, its amazing that you're here.
So alone I would be, in a world that you're not near.
Don't go home without me.
Without me.
So if our bodies get ugly and our hearts stop beating.
Our house is crumbling under me, and our kids start leaving.
I hope you know I appreciated you in every possible way.
All of the little things that you did
they got me through the hardest days.
And I sing, oh, it's amazing that you're here.
So alone I would be, in a world that you're not near.
Don't go home without me.
You know that I'll be hanging around every mighty mile
and when you call me I'll be right down,
and we'll go out in style, in style.
And I sing, oh, it's amazing that you're here.
So alone I would be, in a world that you're not near.
Don't go home without me.
It's amazing that you're here.
So alone I would be, in a world that you're not near.
Don't go home without me.
It's amazing that you're here.
So alone I would be, in a world that you're not near.
Don't go home without me.
Don't go home without me.
- Thank you guys so much.
Thank you for being here.

Artist Bio

Pretty satisfying when it all comes together, isn't it?

If you count yourself a longtime member of the devoted Cult of Lights, prepare to fully lose your mind to Little Machines. This record a gleaming, groundbreaking, generously tuneful slab of brightly hued 21st-century techno-pop brimming with songs so immediate and timelessly pure of heart that they feel like old friends on delivery is going to make perfect sense to you in the best way possible.

If you're new to Lights, no worries: you've picked a fine place to start. Little Machines represents a dream union of, and wallopingly self-assured expansion upon, everything the diminutive Canadian singer, songwriter and synth enthusiast has done before. Now you can dive into the back catalogue with informed ears.

That catalogue has set the creative bar pretty high, for the record. Lights's last outing, 2011's Siberia, was a strikingly ambitious sophomore LP that turned many a head not previously turned her way by introducing layers of synthetic dissonance and juddering dubstep bass into her signature, sweetly melodic electro-pop sound. It was a struggle to get Siberia past the gatekeepers and out into the world, but when it did get out there to a No. 3 debut and gold sales at home in Canada, more than 100,000 copies moved worldwide and no small amount of international critical acclaim it put Lights in the perfect position to conquer the planet with her next album.

The only trouble was the next album refused to come. Despite having Siberia's artistic risk-taking validated by positive reviews and strong sales, Lights couldn't come up with a note or a lyric she liked for the follow-up and descended into a bottomless pit of self-doubt. It's astonishing to think that a musician who's demonstrated so much flagrant promise and confidence from an early age might wind up stricken with fear that it was all over by her mid-20s, but that's what happened: Lights was convinced she'd run out of things to say. It was a case, as she puts it, of "the worst writer's block ever."

"In the moment, I spent so many nights just bawling," Lights concedes over a cocktail and a nibble at Sneaky Dee's, the hallowed Toronto punk-rock eatery and live venue where she was once a beloved enough regular to have an entire dish the "Cactus in the Valley" nachos named in her honour. "'What am I gonna do? I don't have it anymore. I've just lost it.'"

By now, you've heard at least some of Little Machines, so you know that Lights had not, in fact, lost it. But it wasn't easy getting to this place. Oh, no.

"Siberia was one of those transitional records where I was, like, 'Okay, I need to explore that experimental side. Let's focus on cool sounds.' And I kind of walked away from songwriting a bit. I was so confused after that, and I was so uninspired. And when you're uninspired, everything sounds bad. So I just stopped listening to music. I didn't enjoy anything. I was just living in frustrated silence."

Lights dabbled in painting and poetry. She sought refuge in the music of the many female artists, from Patti Smith to Cyndi Lauper, who've inspired her over the years. She disappeared into the New Mexico hinterlands on a solo writing sojourn that found her living off the grid in an eco-friendly "earthship." And suddenly, once she'd stopped worrying about what she was going to do next and started enjoying simply listening to music again, the songs started to flow.

Lights proved her forward-thinking electro-mettle with Siberia, so on Little Machines working with producer/engineer Drew Pearson (Katy Perry, OneRepublic) and A-list mixer Mark "Spike" Stent (U2, Madonna, Beyonc) she's allowed the futuristic electronics to sit on a more even keel with the acute sense of melody she displayed on her gold-selling 2009 debut, The Listening.

"It was about the lyrics and the melodies and dealing with the production later," she says. "It was about getting this killer song that you could strip down and play." Little Machines is less concerned with making a self-conscious artistic statement than its predecessor, and more concerned with letting the exuberant tunefulness of songs like the breezy "Running with the Boys," "How We Do It" (which features the triumphant refrain: "It doesn't go out in a blaze of glory / It's all about how you ended up where"), and the anthemic first single "Up We Go," sell itself unadorned.

At 27, Lights is no longer the preternaturally talented kid who signed her first deal at 15. During the writing and recording of Little Machines, she and husband Beau Bokan (of L.A. metalcore outfit Blessthefall) were expecting their first child, a daughter named Rocket Wild Bokan born this past February. Nevertheless, there's a contagious, youthful vitality to the music that goes hand in hand with its themes of nostalgia and yearning for an escape to simpler times.

"I feel like when you learn too much about the industry and what people expect, it throws you off your game a bit," Lights says. "So I had to strip it back down. I started reading other artists' stories Patti Smith and Kate Bush, where they got their inspiration. And what I started going back to was really nostalgic content. I relapsed into being a kid again, in some ways."

She also wrestled with the age-old questions artists ask themselves: "What purpose do I serve in the world of music? What can I offer people?'" she says. "So I started writing about things that mattered to me, and those things were youth and this awesome navet that I used to have. I didn't write anything that was trying to be something, which felt really good."

After all the hard labor that went into Little Machines, Lights is now delighted to find that becoming a mother has rejuvenated her creativity. As real as the tears and late-night panics were, the writer's block turned out to be a false alarm. She's still got plenty left to say and, as she concludes, "I wound up making what I think is the best thing I've ever done."

"Having a kid made everything else seem less scary," Lights says. "All those stupid pressures that you get caught up in become an afterthought. It just feels like, 'Hey, if I lose everything today, I still have this. And this is amazing.' So it makes you want to do it. You want to make something you're proud to leave behind. It's not about the money you're making or the hits you're getting. 'Legacy' suddenly becomes a thing. It's reinvigorated my desire to make great music."

Editorial

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