Tonight I was at the Roundhouse for Wayward Sons as their official photographer. Toby Jepson and his new band really know how to put on a show, but unfortunately they got all of about the front 8 feet of the stage and terrible light (at least photographically speaking). On stage shots were nearly impossible and when Toby threw his guitar to his guitar tech at the end, which makes a great shot, they turned the lights off so I missed it!
I thought twice about even staying for FM and Saxon but I’d brought my fisheye lens with me in case it might have been useful for Wayward Sons (which it wasn’t) and after shooting the first three songs of Saxon’s set I headed to the gallery because this is a shot I’ve always wanted but never been able to do before. It took a few attempts but in the end it turned out just how I wanted it to as a generic view of a gig in full flow in what I think architecturally is one of the most stunning music venues around.
Some gigs frankly are classics, and tonight was one of them. It’s a good few years since I last photographed Glenn. Tonight’s show was supposed to be at the Koko but as it’s falling apart it got moved to the far less salubrious Electric Ballroom. The only show I’d done here previously was Mushroomhead.
For some unknown reason, 16 photographers were accredited to squeeze in to the tiny pit, but there were easily 20 in there. We were told we could shoot the first three songs and then stay to shoot the encore with a ‘surprise guest’. That surprise guest was none other than Joe Bonamassa who plays with Glenn in Black Country Communion. Given that you couldn’t get a pass at all for their tour earlier this year, it was well worth staying for.
You couldn’t move in the pit so I guessed Joe would be stage left so that’s where I found my spot and it was perfect because Glenn and Joe posed and played together directly in front of me so it turned out just how I wanted.
Before tonight’s gig I saw the moon rising over the supermarket car park next to the venue. Oh the glamour of concert photography! I’d brought along my Sigma 150-600mm lens as I thought it was possible we wouldn’t have pit access tonight and I’ve always wanted to try and get a shot of a plane passing in front of a full moon. I didn’t have long before the show and this was the only plane which obliged but it felt very appropriate to be shooting the (dark side of the) moon ahead of the first tour in 24 years by Pink Floyd’s drummer extraordinaire Nick Mason.
I have to say the show was amazing. I don’t know any of the earliest Pink Floyd songs but I’ve wanted to photograph Nick Mason for as long as I’ve been in to shooting gigs so tonight was an absolute treat. We were given pit access which it seems on most shows so far hasn’t been granted and only 5 of us had been accredited. We were warned that songs 1 and 2 were dark so were given 5! Well song 4 was lit up like Christmas and the lighting was stunning. It was so great not only to photograph a rock icon but also to come away with a selection of shots I was really pleased with.
There are concerts and then there are concerts. I saw Janelle Monae perform on Jools Holland’s TV show a few years ago and in that moment I was adamant I would photograph one of her shows as soon as possible. Well, fast forward a long time and here we are, at the Roundhouse for the first of her two sold out London shows.
Quite what someone of her talent and stage presence is doing playing intimate venues like this is utterly beyond me – surely she is just a hit or two away from selling out the biggest arenas and stadiums around the world?
I have to say that technically it wasn’t the easiest of shows – this photo above was taken wide open at 14mm and she was back and forth all over the place with a beautiful but challengingly backlit lighting set up. I’d say that tonight’s show was one of the highlights of my year – I’ve ticked a few names off the bucket list so far like Lenny Kravitz and Van Morrison, but Janelle Monae tops that lot easily and I sincerely this isn’t the last time I catch her on tour.
Okay, confession time. The only reason I went to the Steve Van Zandt gig tonight is that he has a habit of bringing out some very famous special guests. Last time it was Paul McCartney, and given Sir Paul only launched his new album and played the Cavern Club the other day, it was a risk worth taking.
The light was, well, not. The Nikon D4S flatters to deceive but this was a dark show, shot at the limits of what the camera can do which is a shame given how colourful it all was. Anyway, it was over in a flash (not that you can use flash of course), no special guests, and we were out after three songs. He’s very good, don’t get me wrong, but I probably shouldn’t have gone along tonight really.
It wouldn’t be the British Summertime Festival without some rain, surely? After weeks of crazy high temperatures, rain was forecast tonight but I’m not sure anyone really believed it would come. We spent the afternoon shooting in the heat shooting some great artists like Van Morrison. It’s not often I get to shoot two artists on my bucket list for the first time in the same day! He does everything he can to make a clear shot nigh on impossible, cluttering the stage with a lecturn and various other stands, but a massive venue like Hyde Park means you get the opportunity to experiment with different focal lengths and eventually I found my clear shot on my 150-600mm lens.
Just as I was heading to the second stage for The Shires, the heavens opened. It was like a tropical storm which went on and on. Half an hour before Michael Buble’s stage time we were taken out to the end of the runway which was our very specifically designated shooting position. We just prayed he’d come along the runway, otherwise the shoot would be a disaster and we were all soaked to the bone and doing everything we could to protect our camera kit. I resorted to using a heavy duty bin liner as a poncho and it just about did the job.
True to form, Michael Buble delivered in style. He came right down to the end of the runway and performed literally within touching distance of us in the driving rain and this picture shows!
I have a huge, new found respect for him, what an absolute performer! Most artists wouldn’t have gone near that runway – it was like a river, yet he came down to the front and gave us wonderful frames. Couldn’t have asked for more, other than a canoe to get home in…
I’ve shot a fair few of Eric Clapton’s shows over the years at the Royal Albert Hall. Last time he performed at Hyde Park he reluctantly gave the photographers pit access and I banked on the same happening tonight.
It was touch and go for a while – would we get any access at all, and then where would we be shooting from – mixer, the gap between the gold and diamond circles or somewhere else? At the 11th hour we got pit access – we had to choose a side and stay there. For me, the shot I want is of him pulling one of his epic solos and so it was a simple choice – go stage right and hope that he moved far enough from the mic stand for a clear shot. Fortunately he did exactly that and this was my favourite shot.
Among the other performers it was great to catch Carlos Santana again for only the second time. Alas Steve Winwood was a massive disappointment. He lurked resolutely behind a piano for the first three songs and as we left the pit he came to the front, guitar in hand. Just typical! Still, today was all about Eric Clapton and I got my shot!
Given his age, you have to wonder how long Iggy Pop will carry on performing, especially when you see how he throws himself around the stage…and the crowd! They just don’t make them this way anymore and I was delighted to get a pass for tonight’s show as it’s a while since I’ve seen Iggy perform.
Whereas yesterday I’d braved the heat and shot a fair few of the artists, I just came along for Iggy’s set tonight. At one point it looked like access was in doubt, but then it came down to pick a side and stick to it. As we went in to the pit the whole middle section (where he is in this photo) was taped off and photographers chose their side. I didn’t think he’d come down in to the crowd while we were there but I knew I wanted to be stage left because of the angle of the sun and I’m so glad I stuck to that choice. He was great to shoot up on the stage but when he came, ever so briefly, down to the front row, this shot would have been impossible from the other side and even though shooting gigs in bright sunshine usually doesn’t look good, I’m really pleased with how this turned out.
It’s years since I last shot an Oasis show so I thought it would be fun to head along to Finsbury Park this weekend. I’d also never shot Wolf Alice, and Richard Ashcroft brought the house down with a surprise acoustic set just before Liam Gallagher. For once it all worked out beautifully because we were ushered in to the pit for Richard’s set too – all too often you miss the ‘secret’ set because it’s, well, too secret. Richard nailed it. He stole the show, end of!
Liam definitely isn’t a fan of photographers and I have to say he sounded much better than last month when he supported the Rolling Stones. I wanted to get something a little different as he is pretty inanimate – either scowling behind the mic or in front of it, shaking the maracas.
I also went along to the second stage to see Dream Wife and managed to stay for the whole set. Not really my thing but they were great to shoot and it will be interesting to see how they get on.