Gig Review – Europe and Foreigner, Hammersmith Apollo, 13 April 2014

Europe, Hammersmith Apollo, 13 April 2014When I walked in to the auditorium tonight my heart sank. It was a seated gig. Seated? Europe and Foreigner? Someone was having an off day when they made that decision. Even though there were a few photographers loitering down at the front, as there was no pit, I knew at best we would be in the aisles. We’ve shot many gigs from the aisles there and even if it’s a bit restrictive, you’re still low, central and close enough to get reasonably good shots. Joe Satriani’s last show here was that set up and we got awesome shots.

Not tonight. No. Artist management had decided we were shooting from the far side walls. Now any photographer will tell you that a rock band with an energetic front man needs to be shot up close and personal, and there have been some stunning shots from elsewhere on the tour. Shooting from the far side, on a sharp angle just kills the action stone dead. The shot above is the best frame I got in 3 songs, although I wasn’t trying very hard for at least 2 of them, and it only worked because the singer was walking around to the edges of the stage looking for the photographers!

The point is that someone should have informed us. That way we could have either lugged along our 300mm lenses or chosen not to bother. I wasn’t on assignment for my normal agency so I frankly wouldn’t have bothered but others with no choice could at least have brought the right kit. The security guys recognised the absurdity of the situation and were trying to get us moved in to a better position. They could see the logic of allowing us to sit down in the aisles – we would have been blocking no-one and would have got decent shots – but no, management were not budging.

So I’m afraid I voted with my feet. 25 minutes before Foreigner were due on stage, I pulled in to my driveway. Never in all my years of shooting have I done that but I felt I had no choice but to leave early. I did so with a heavy heart, but photographers are so often at the bottom of the gig pecking order, and tonight was one of the worst examples I’ve experienced in a long time.

Gig Review – Sunflower Jam Celebrating Jon Lord, Royal Albert Hall, 4 April 2014

Sunflower Jam Celebrating Jon Lord, Royal Albert Hall, 4 April 2014Where on earth do I start trying to sum up this amazing afternoon and evening? This was my second Sunflower Jam as the official photographer and so I got there early to catch the sound checks. Watching Bruce Dickinson and Glenn Hughes limbering up their vocal cords in front of maybe 20 people in an empty Royal Albert Hall is a memory that will stay with me a long time.

Tonight was Celebrating Jon Lord (#celebratingjonlord), an evening in the great man’s honour. I imagine he would have been rather pleased. During the first half I spent some time right up in highest reaches of the hall – this shot here was one I really wanted to get in as wide a format as possible.

The second half was all about rock. Deep Purple owned the stage for the majority of the second half but before they did, Glenn Hughes and Bruce Dickinson performed together and Glenn also did a very powerful solo spot. He had told me in the interval that he’d look out for me as he stalked the stage, and he certainly did, at one point he was almost too close to photograph!

The night ended with the now traditional glorious jam with all the artists on stage together. I’ve shot some amazing shows in my time but this one was right up there with the best of them.