Gig Review – ZZ Top, Hammersmith Apollo, 24 June 2013

ZZ Top, Hammersmith Apollo, 24 June 2013I don’t think you can actually go wrong with a ZZ Top gig. The lighting is great and they move around so slowly you could have a cup of tea between songs. Often gigs are a little stressful but tonight was anything but. Only seven of us in the pit (why did it take until early afternoon for confirmation to come through then?!) and a very straight forward shoot. If anything the problem was choosing which shots to get rid of, otherwise I’d have been editing half the night.

Gig Review – Slipknot, Iron Maiden and Rammstein, Download Festival, 14-16 June 2013

Rammstein, Download Festival, 16 June 2013There’s something about the Download Festival that seems to draw me back year after year, even though the weather is usually terrible and spending three days in a Derbyshire field would never otherwise appeal.

This year, it was the headliners I was interested in. I last shot Slipknot at Download in 2005…on film!!! Unsurprisingly the shots weren’t great and I’d not had a chance to shoot them since as I wasn’t accredited for their set whilst I was at Sonisphere in 2011. Iron Maiden are always tough to shoot and I hoped to catch Bruce Dickinson jumping again (I didn’t) and the classic Steve Harris pose that I’ve never got (the videographer got in the way). Rammstein was a band I’d never shot – as with Slipknot, I wasn’t allowed in when they played Sonisphere in 2011.

Slipknot were fabulous to shoot. So much energy and action going on. Iron Maiden had a magnificent stage set and Rammstein did their best to burn the whole of Derbyshire down with more pyrotechnics than I’ve ever seen in my life. They damn near succeeded too.

I shot lots of other bands too. There were some surprising highlights for me – Gogol Bordello, a weird Russian ‘Gypsy Punk’ act who were all over the place, and 30 Seconds To Mars – despite the silliest restrictions on where we could shoot from I was really pleased with the shots. Enter Shikari invaded the front row of the pit before they’d even begun their set. Ghost, a band with a lead singer known only as Papa Emeritus who looks like a corpse dressed as the Pope and band members only referred to as Unnamed Ghouls, were truly bizarre but great to shoot.

Doing a festival justice is hard work, I left after three days of very little sleep and an aching back from lugging around silly amounts of kit, but I always leave Download glad that I’ve been.

Gig Review – Bon Jovi, Because We Can UK tour opener, Etihad Stadium, Manchester, 8 June 2013

I’ve lost count of the number of Bon Jovi shows I’ve shot – I’d better check some time! This was the Because We Can UK tour opener. For years they’ve had a runway around the diamond circle but this time we were shooting from behind that runway rather than in the pit, which meant using a 300mm lens for most of the shoot. I’d always prefer to be in the pit, but apparently because the stage is so high you can hardly see a thing from there!

With the showtime being 8pm, it was an interesting mix of daylight and stage lighting which was okay but who wants to shoot a stadium gig in daylight!? You just know from David Bergman’s official photos of the tour that once the sun goes down, the lighting really comes in to its own, but Bon Jovi never allow anyone else that kind of access, and with 3 hour shows, they have to start early.

Still it was an enjoyable shoot, although as a fan of their old (very old) stuff, it was a real shame that Richie Sambora isn’t on this tour, even if his replacement, Phil X, is a fine guitarist in his own right. They sounded great, and concentrated more on the crowd pleasers than plugging the new album thankfully, but is Bon Jovi really Bon Jovi without Richie Sambora? I’ll leave you to ponder that one…

Gig Review – Muse, World War Z Premier, Horse Guards Parade, 2 June 2013

I’ve never had much luck with Muse. This was my third show of their’s but it’s never quite gone my way before. So I thought that getting to shoot the World War Z premier show at Horse Guard’s Parade could be third time lucky. It so easily could have been so but actually it was a really difficult shoot. They had an odd shaped runway out in to the crowd but we weren’t allowed around it, but in the end Matt didn’t use it while we were shooting. That was because our two song allocation included a recorded intro before the show started which bizarrely counted as the first song! So we were booted out without any warning after one song much to the dismay of the good folks from Freud PR.

Typically he strutted out on to the runway almost immediately after that and no doubt half the front row got amazing shots on their point and shoots of him down on his knees singing – precisely the shots we wanted but couldn’t get!

Shooting in Horse Guards Parade though was memorable, as was the fact that this was a one off free show to promote their music in Brad Pitt’s World War Z movie which premiered earlier in the evening. Maybe it’ll be fourth time lucky with Matt Bellamy and co.