You could barely believe the difference 24 hours makes. From the sublime Hyde Park to arguably the most disorganised and unprofessional pit I’ve ever stepped in to.
I was really looking forward to this – a ‘home’ gig, less than 2 miles from my house. I’ve never shot a Will Young show so I grabbed a pass and decided to head down on what was a warm, sunny evening thinking I’d do 3 songs and be on my way home. Not so…
My accreditation was no different to pretty much everyone else hanging around backstage. Things didn’t seem quite right so I lined up at the side of the pit really quite early for Will Young and went in the moment I was allowed. There was one other photographer there.
Within a minute or two we were utterly surrounded with punters. The pit was full to bursting with around 100 or so fans – family, friends, who knows, but it made working almost impossible. The plus side was that while I’d been told my pass strictly gave me access for 3 songs only, seemingly now the pit was full of super-fans with cameras, I could do what I liked. So I did. He was quite funny actually, there was plenty of banter between songs, but I can’t say I’d rush to another show…
Two months to the day after the last time I was in Hyde Park, and in fact the last time I shot a gig, I found myself back there on a beautiful late summer’s afternoon for more legends. I think I’ll look back on 2019 as the year I saw so many legends for the first time – Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand and tonight the one and only Barry Manilow.
This one was very special for me. My mum loved live music, and I remember her being a huge fan of Barry Manilow. In fact, Can’t Smile Without You was one of her all time favourites, and until tonight I’d gone 35 years unable to listen to it.
But before Barry’s set we had the most amazing range of artists – opera singer Aida Garifullina, Gabrielle, the Lighthouse Family performing possibly for the first time in years in London (and they were brilliant)… Add Bonnie Tyler performing on top of a cherry picker, Chrissie Hynde performing a fabulous solo set and the amazing Kingdom Choir and it was quite a day.
You can never be sure what access you’ll get for Barry Manilow. He tours so infrequently and last time in London the photographers were at the mixing desk, but tonight he gave us three songs from the pit. There were only five of us there which made things much easier in a very big pit but it was still a fabulous performance. As we left the pit at the beginning of song four, I realised he was playing Can’t Smile Without You. I asked the PR if I could stay at the edge of the pit and watch that song and it was by far the most emotional experience I’ve had in 15 years of shooting concerts. If only she could have been there too. It was fabulous.