So this is a first. I’ve been a U2 fan for 25 years, and even flew to Dublin in 2009 just to shoot their Croke Park show. I had a standing ticket for tonight’s show, but also a photo pass. The logistics of shooting both halves of the show from a long distance from the stage, whilst intending to queue up to make the front row meant I had to turn the pass down. In truth, I’d also not seen any amazing shots from the tour due to the tricky shooting locations, and in the end I chose to enjoy the show.
This then is the first review on my blog from a concert I shot as a paying customer amongst thousands of others. No SLR for this one (I wish). I took in the fabulous Sony RX100ii and gave it a big challenge – to capture publishable shots from the crowd. I was helped by the enormous runway and B stage, plus some research that meant our six hours of queuing ensured we got what I felt was the ideal spot for crowd photography.
What the little Sony lacks in zoom (it’s a 24-105mm effectively) it makes up in being able to be set up like an SLR – with fully manual spot metering, continuous focusing, workable noise at ISO 800 and nice big RAW files. Photographically, the stunning and stark stage lighting was difficult to shoot, but I basically shot the whole thing on ISO 800, around f/2.8 and with shutter speeds around 1/160th. Shooting RAW meant I could tinker afterwards. It would be completely unfair to compare image quality from the Sony to what I’m used to from a Nikon D4S, but I was massively impressed with the results.
As for the show? It was the right decision to queue up and enjoy it. We simply couldn’t have been closer and the show was fabulous.
As I waited for Sir Cliff to come on stage in a packed out Royal Albert Hall where I brought the average age down considerably, I couldn’t believe I would be the only photographer there. Tonight was the last show of the tour celebrating his 75th birthday, and it is entirely possible (only in my own view – I’m not starting a rumour here) that it could be his last. At the last minute however, one of my colleagues turned up.
The shoot was pretty straight forward – 3 songs from anywhere around the front as long as we didn’t get in the way of the audience. I actually preferred the angles on the 300mm about 12 rows back to the closer, sharper angles, and it was all pretty straight forward. Not a show I’d pay to watch, but he clearly had the audience in the palm of his hand from the word go.
You can pretty much guarantee there will be too many photographers in the pit at the Empire. The pit is one of the narrowest of any of the larger venues and the stage is really low. So if it’s quiet in the pit it can be an amazing place to shoot but when it’s busy it is a nightmare. It was busy tonight, not the busiest I’ve seen but not far off.
Having never seen the Sex Pistols I was really keen to shoot Jonny Rotten. I’m afraid I came away disappointed. Apart from occasionally pulling a mildly aggressive face, this wasn’t what I expected. The music I have to say was dire, and Lydon is not the expressive, angry, ranting singer I had expected. Instead he absorbed himself in his howling lyrics and barely moved from behind the mic stand. With the light altogether muddy, this made for a pretty hard and uninspiring shoot.
Now, if he were to ever reform the Sex Pistols…