Gig Review – V Festival, Chelmsford, 17 & 18 August 2013

Paul Smith, Maximo Park, V Festival, 17 August 2013

I’ve shot a lot of festivals over the years but V Festival has never been one of them. I chose to do it largely because Beyoncé was headlining and on the bucket list of artists I’d never shot, she was right up at the top.

The number of photographers had been restricted apparently compared to previous years which was great because the only time a pit felt over crowded all weekend was when Rita Ora played on the second stage. And that was only because it was so high that we were all perched up the top of our ladders, so it really wasn’t that bad.

Headliners aside there were some great acts to shoot – Jessie J, Maximo Park (this jump shot happened within the first few seconds of their set and was gone in the blink of an eye so fast I wasn’t even sure I’d caught it at first), Paloma Faith, Stereophonics, Seasick Steve (who bizarrely only two of us chose over Olly Murs when stage times clashed) and Ellie Goulding.

It was the headliners who were the let down. Beyoncé approved a handful of us for one song from the mixing tower. Frankly I might as well have stuck the camera out of my bedroom window back in Hertfordshire – I’d have got equally bad shots. We were just too far away and the unaccredited photographers all got much better shots illicitly from the crowd.

On Sunday, Kings of Leon did their usual trick – one side of the pit or the other, and Caleb was lit by one powerful white light shining at the far side of his head so his whole front was in darkness – an obvious one finger salute to the photographers. The weekend belonged to Rita Ora who outshone the lot of them and was an absolute joy to photograph but my favourite shot of the weekend was this one of Maximo Park’s Paul Smith in mid air.

My prediction is that Lady Gaga will headline V Festival in 2014. You heard it here first, and that would be amazing.

Gig Review – Mutya Keisha Siobhan (MKS) at the Scala, 1 August 2013

Mutya Keisha Siobhan, Scala, 1 August 2013In all my years shooting gigs I’ve managed to studiously avoid going to Scala in Kings Cross. The only exception was when I missed out on shooting Katy Perry’s debut show there. So off I went to photograph MKS or Mutya Keisha Siobhan. For the uninitiated, they are the three founding members of the Sugababes who all at varying points got kicked out of their own band. They don’t own the rights to the name, so they’re back using their own.

Apparently this was their first show back together since being in the Sugababes so it was a big deal. The nerves showed on their faces, particularly Keisha Buchanan who looked terrified but the crowd couldn’t have been more excited to see them.

The pit was tiny and while they were standing up, the only clear shot of all three of them was from the middle, but they never lined up together before taking to their stools which were set up too far apart to work photographically. The stage set will have looked impressive from a distance and perhaps we would have got better shots shooting from the back of what is a very small venue, but to shoot from the pit it was messy and cluttered and the moment our time was up we were ushered to an exit immediately.