Had it not been for Lemmy’s sad and untimely passing, I would have been photographing Motorhead at the Hammersmith Apollo tonight.
The Libertines seem to have been making big waves with high profile festival appearances since they reformed but this was their first arena tour. Thousands of unsold seats were curtained off at the back of the arena, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of the crowd.
26 photographers were accredited tonight which is a silly number even though the pit is pretty large at The O2, and it appears everyone turned up. The band did the unthinkable for a ragtag bunch of former drug addicts who routinely failed to turn up for their own shows, by coming on early.
While I couldn’t recognise a Libertines song if it bit me on the arse, it was surprisingly decent to shoot and Pete Doherty and Carl Barat obligingly shared a microphone during one of the songs which is the shot everyone wants to get.
In the drumming world Ginger Baker is a legend, and is seen as the inventor of the drum solo. This was a rescheduled show from December because he had a fall and couldn’t perform. At 76 years old, that’s fair enough.
This was a warm up show ahead of a short tour in April, playing to just 300 very enthusiastic fans and three photographers. I had never shot in the Borderline and I don’t wish to return anytime soon. It’s smaller than most pubs and really not well set up for gigs. The stage was too small for such a large band and the whole thing was lit by four rather inadequate LED lights.
As we were shooting from the crowd, it was a case of getting there early to bag a spot. There was only one clear sight line between the cymbals so I grabbed that spot and waited. Just before he came on a roadie put a lecturn and microphone stand for one of the singers right in front of me, completely blocking my view! Fortunately, people in the crowd understood we were only there for two songs and that we had a job to do, so they were very obliging in letting us move around.
Between the first and second songs, Ginger addressed the crowd, completely out of breath. As I packed up after the second song he announced he wasn’t well enough to play Ginger Spice and moved on to a slower number. I think the set list was only 6 songs long.
He was clearly weak and unwell, and it’s quite something he was on stage at all. Technically it was no fun at all, shooting at up to ISO8000 in poor light but I would be surprised if he’ll do many more shows before retiring for good.