Having never shot at ULU which is now known as Student Central I had no idea what to expect. I had organised to shoot for Uli directly but found when I arrived that all the photographers seemed to have the whole show not just me! The room was really quite small – I’d guess it holds no more than 300-400 people. The lighting for the support act was so dreadful that I feared the worst for Uli’s set.
A couple of songs in he stopped and asked the lighting tech to put some light on him because he couldn’t see what he was doing! That meant the three little white spots above the stage got turned on and when he came to the front for his solos they gave just enough light for what turned out to be pretty atmospheric shots.
I can’t say I’ll be heading back to ULU anytime soon for a show but tonight was fun. Given this is Uli’s 50th anniversary headline tour it was sad to see him performing in such a small place and you have to wonder how many times he’ll be back here now.
Maestro Morricone is simply a legend. He’s 90 years old and tonight was his last ever performance in the UK. So it was a privilege to be there and utterly surprising to be one of only two photographers given accreditation.
We had been told we would be off to the side of the pit or similar so I knew it would be a long lens shoot. When he conducts he actually does so with his back to the audience, facing his orchestra, so clear shots were going to be a challenge. They’d thought it through though, and we were positioned at the far side of the pit with a very restricted line of view, but it was probably the best sightline you could get without being on the stage itself.
I’ve never been timed for my allotted shooting time before. I’ve heard rumours of it for artists like Beyoncé but tonight, Kitty literally had 3.5 minutes counting down on her iPhone. As soon as that time was up, it was time to leave.
For the most part he looked directly ahead, but briefly he turned towards his cellists just enough to be able to see his eyes and his face. This was the shot for me, and The Guardian who commissioned me clearly thought so to as they ran it as the lead arts feature review.
Tonight’s show was different to the norm. As this was a charity show we had pit access for every artist. There were a number of restrictions in place with several artists requiring image approval before we could release them to our agencies.
Ed Sheeran opened the night and it’s a rarity to even get a pass to shoot one of his shows these days so the fact that we got 3 songs from the pit was good going.
It was busy to say the least! No sooner were we out of the pit after the first 3 songs for each artist than we were heading back in! There was scarcely any editing time and we even missed a number of artist promo shoots because the scheduling times clashed with our time in the pit.
As it was we almost missed Olly Murs’ set as we only had 2 songs. I had headed to the pit early but everyone else was brought down on time, several minutes after he’d gone on stage, so I had the pit to myself for first half a song.
Anne-Marie was great fun to shoot as well.
Ella Eyre was probably the highlight of the night. She’s such an energetic artist and it’s always great fun trying to get a sharp, clear shot when she’s whirling around with her hair in full flow.
Professor Green isn’t my thing at all, but he tore up the stage.
James Arthur was last on, and even though there were only 6 of us shooting, it was touch and go whether any of us would stay at one point as he was one of the artists requiring management approval of our shots which is an absolute pain.
All in all though it was a great event for a wonderful cause. All of the artists spoke about their own struggles with mental health, anxiety and so on which really did make you stop and think. Anything that raises awareness of the issues is a good thing and tonight’s show was a resounding success, and wonderful to be a part of.