After trashing my cameras at Download, I had to borrow back my old D3 from my friend Nick for tonight’s show otherwise it would have been a nightmare. I knew from my research that Chris would use the runway and that we’d get a confetti shot like this. Planning for it is one thing, getting it is another as it’s pretty much guesswork as to where he runs, where he jumps and so on.
I still think the best Coldplay show I ever did was on the last tour at the Emirates Stadium but I came away with some shots I was really happy with tonight, despite it being a challenging shoot with a really high runway.
On the scale of difficult festivals, Download is now firmly in the lead. Last year I lost nearly a day’s shooting when my 70-200mm lens fogged up completely in the impossible rainy conditions. Surely lightning does strike twice, does it!?
Yep. So this year the line up really didn’t excite me much apart from four artists – Sixx AM, Juliette Lewis, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. Sixx was awesome, and as we almost never got pit access to shoot him when he was with Motley Crue it was well worth it. Juliette Lewis was crazy, such great fun to shoot!
It all went a bit wrong with Black Sabbath though. We knew this would be one of the last ever chances to see them, and even though I was there accredited with a national newspaper I still didn’t get a photo pass for their set. So I headed in to the crowd to get a few shots and to watch the set. What could possibly go wrong? Well a virtual monsoon is what occurred. Even though I was doing my absolute best to keep my cameras covered up under bags and my coat, it was no use. They got soaked, and both gradually began to give up working.
On Sunday, all that mattered was shooting Iron Maiden. By then one camera had stopped functioning altogether and the other worked, but the screen had failed, meaning I had no way of checking focus, exposure or anything. It was just like the good old days of film and having one camera body to use! So by the time Maiden took to the stage, I was seriously hampered by my gear but I did what I could, and this was the shot of the night if not the weekend for me – it looks like Bruce is cooking in the cauldron!
All concerts are not created equal. AC/DC have received a lot of bad press for the way they’ve handled Brian Johnson’s (permanent or temporary) departure from the band, and even more so for hiring the man who single-handedly wrecked arguably the greatest hard rock band of them all. They’re saying Axl’s role is a one-off for this tour, and I wanted to see it for myself. It was incredible, and may well go down in history as one of those era-defining shows. What a way for the Queen Elizabeth Stadium to host its first ever concert.
I’ve been lucky enough to shoot about 5 AC/DC shows and a number of ‘new’ Guns n’ Roses shows over the years, although tonight was a unique opportunity to photograph Axl Rose from the pit with no silly restrictions, humungous lenses or ridiculously late stage times – and boy was it worth it.
The stage was probably the highest I’ve ever seen as was the long ego ramp out in to the crowd, but Axl and Angus both used it during the first three songs and briefly came together as in the shot above. Having watched a ton of YouTube footage of previous shows I didn’t expect to get the holy grail shot of the two of them together but it worked out brilliantly.
Technically it was a pretty straight forward shoot as the lighting was excellent and the 70-200mm and 300mm lenses were a perfect combo for all but the widest shots.
I’d bought myself a standing ticket to watch the rest of the show and I wasn’t disappointed. Axl’s vocals were fabulous and Angus was on brilliant form. There wasn’t a hint of the rampant unprofessionalism that has ruined Axl’s career over the last 20+ years, in fact he seemed genuinely pleased to be there. Rumour has it that he isn’t being paid a single cent until he completes the tour, and on tonight’s performance I’m very excited about the prospect of at least 3 of the original Guns line up coming over here next year (I hope) for a tour, perhaps even to headline the 2017 Download Festival (remember you heard it here first!) Although, what are the chances of us being in the pit for that tour I wonder…