Tonight was a very special show. This was, as far as I know, the last time that Brian Wilson will ever perform Pet Sounds in the UK. I was working for his PR and management tonight, with access all areas for the whole show. The only proviso was that I couldn’t shoot freely on the stage, but fair enough!
For all his artistic prowess (and he’s written some absolute classics) Brian is a very static performer these days. He didn’t move once from a piano that was positioned facing out to the audience. That meant it was quite hard to see him other than his head and it was really important for me to deliver as wide a variety of shots as possible.
I found a side on angle that worked nicely, but the best shots at the Royal Albert Hall are rarely if ever taken from the pit. I had hoped to get an elevated shot from the organ behind the stage looking out over the whole Hall, but they’d put a screen up making that shot impossible. However with three levels to explore and all sorts of different angles to find, I was able to get really wide angle shots from the very back of the Hall and this was easily the best angle to get a clean shot of Brian’s hands on the piano. I was way up at the top of the Hall on a 300mm lens, but it was worth the trek.
Access like I got tonight is a rare treat, and I was glad to make the most of it.
I was amazed to find there were only 3 of us shooting tonight’s show. I expected it to be packed full of photographers, but it wasn’t, and it was incredibly laid back – so much so that we missed the first song performed by last year’s X Factor winner Louisa Johnson!
The reason for that was that we were backstage in a tiny room doing portrait photos with Nicole Scherzinger, so it wasn’t exactly terrible that we only got time to shoot one of Louisa’s songs!
We had the whole show as each artist was only performing a couple of songs, right up until then end when suddenly we were ushered out of Shawn Mendes’ set after two songs with no warning! Still, it was a decent night, and Fleur East was far and away the best performer to shoot of the night.
The Palladium is an undeniably stunning venue, and seeing Bon Jovi performing in front of just 2000 people for the launch of their new album was an absolute treat.
I had the best of both worlds tonight. I had a photo pass for the first two songs, and I’d won free tickets in a ballot so had great seats for the rest of the show. And what a show it was!
The Palladium may be beautiful, but because it is a fully seated venue, photography is restricted to the back of the downstairs area and the far sides, for which a 300mm lens is just enough. To say it’s therefore tough is true. The lighting was great and the band were clearly on great form. After playing the new album, they then came back for an encore of classic songs that the audience went crazy over. All in all a great night!
Some shows are an absolute privilege to shoot, and this was one of them. Having worked on Matt’s Dorchester Hotel show last year, I was invited by Steve Guest and Rob Ferguson to be the official photographer for tonight’s set. That meant all areas access, and permission to shoot from on the stage as well as elsewhere which is always a wonderful opportunity.
The lighting was very challenging. It was at the Dorchester too last year, but that was only because the poor lighting guy didn’t have a big enough rig for the room. This time it was being recorded for DVD so the lighting was low and fairly orange at times.
From the stage, that meant dramatic silhouettes were the way to go, although I’d hoped for more shots really showing the crowd as well. I really enjoy taking shots like this because they are something a little different from normal. Next year when Bros play again, I’m sure it’ll all look very different.