Scunthorpe – not necessarily top of my list of desirable destinations but here we are and after all, it is for Arcade Fire. I arrived early and found a few people I knew in the queue including Richard Hawley so had a quick catch up before I headed upstairs to the balcony. For the packed audience, The Baths Hall is a great venue but for photography, the opportunities are limited and you still only get the three songs (regardless of who you’re working for) so you have to make the most of every shot you can see. Fortunately, the lighting’s pretty good and the band are hugely entertaining, keeping things moving around the stage. I’m really happy with how the pictures look in this month’s Q and actually the town looked like it’s got a lot going for it. Thanks Scunthorpe – Arcade Fire might just have set a new trend on the tour venue trail.
So – last weekend we were back for another heavy duty dose of Download and for once, the sun was actually shining. Perhaps it was the influence of this year’s impactful centrepiece, the Download Dog, created by show design specialists New Substance. He looked amazing but I steered clear of those killer gnashers..
My first Slayer gig was in 1986 and finally, after all these years, I have got some pictures. On every previous occasion, including Bloodstock last year, I’ve been thwarted by extreme smoke, or extreme red light or in fact no light at all…but this year the Download second stage had an earlier finish, and there was no escape. Slayer are one of my absolute, all time favourite bands so it is no understatement to say I was thrilled.
Headlining on Saturday, another band who like to hide out in the smoke (and behind the mic) , Biffy Clyro. Fortunately I’ve been there before and can just about judge now when it’s the right time to take my chances.
At the end of the runway I got some great shots of a band I’ve long wanted to see AFI..
And another band well worth a mention, The Cadillac Three, born and raised in Nashville Tennessee and definitely bringing the Southern states vibe with them to Download. I’d never seen them before but really enjoyed their set. So there you go – a small selection of the many, many images from what was another brilliant festival.
In Manchester and in the wake of the terrorist attack, Old Trafford cricket ground hosted a bumper gig headlined by local band the Courteeners. Despite, or perhaps in a show of solidarity against the continuing threat, a crowd of 50,000 showed up to enjoy the show. Nice then for Q magazine to return the favour and put them centre stage.
This gig had long been in the Old Trafford diary but still, recent events gave it a greater resonance. It was powerful to be there that night and Liam took the time to offer a personal tribute to Manchester’s spirit and resilience, reading aloud Longfella’s poem, This is the Place.
Stageside I was in the best position to get some final shots in and experience an amazing response from the fans..
On the way to the gig I’d already heard Charlatans guitarist Mark Collins saying how excited they were to be playing and lead Tim Burgess took a moment on stage to drink it all in.
Band number three was the Blossoms and spotting me on the sidelines Joe Donovan was all smiles…
And first up on the night, Cabbage. They’re relatively new and definitely one to watch, and clearly I’m not the only one who thinks that. They opened the gig to a crowd pretty much at capacity. A brilliant night, I wouldn’t have missed it. Thank you Manchester.
So – after all this time I’ve finally got to photograph The Who and I have to say it was worth the wait..although the cameraman filming at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena had bagged the best spot…always the way! Still we did get our money’s worth as three tracks from a band like The Who are often well over the standard three minutes!
Beautiful lighting and just an all round great experience really, plus I was there for the launch edition of Planet Rock magazine so great to see some of the pictures in print this month.
Also in this month’s Q magazine (July edition), Everything Everything who I shot at their studio in Manchester – a “crumbling former textiles mill”! But as you know I like a bit of urban grit. The band showed me round the space and between us we picked a backdrop which worked well. They are a really nice bunch – super accommodating and no fuss. The new album – Revolution – is out in August.
I spent a day last week at Empowering Women with Tech, an event designed to “break down misconceptions about women in technology and inspire more women to become tech creators.”; the premise being that “great innovation, disruption and creativity are the result of diversity”. A strong panel of speakers included appearances from broadcasters like Lauren Laverne and Miquita Oliver, and there were plenty of opportunities to network throughout the day.
Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE talked about some of the women whose work has shaped history but who aren’t celebrated like their male counterparts. From that timely reminder she went on to offer some practical advice on how women today can become more tech savvy in business.
Emmy Lovell from Warner Music had an interesting back story of growing up liking Kylie Minogue in her role as mechanic on Neighbours and ending up working with her. She got her first break at 19 through another woman in broadcast radio who spotted her potential in a letter she wrote to the station. I had a great chat with Emmy after her presentation. She works on the technical side for Warners – supporting different artists in using different media to promote themselves. She also worked at Bauer Media who I’m currently working for via Q Magazine so felt like we shared some common ground.
Next up Debbie Wosskow OBE who grew up in a home where she was encouraged to go into business. She saw the film The Holiday on a plane and decided to set up Love Home Swap, an online house swap business. On the back of that success she went on to found another enterprise, Albright to help women in business network effectively and access funding to achieve success.
Susanna Lau (aka Susie Bubble) is a fashion blogger so hearing how she’s turned that into a business was really interesting.
I should also say big thanks to Natasha Sayce-Zelem for organising such an amazing event. Natasha had an interesting dad who worked in TV and film. For a while she worked as a photographer for Melody Maker then did a film degree, worked on Emmerdale and at the beeb, then moved to be a technical head at Sky. She had a passion for gaming and tech when girls weren’t really recognised in that scene. Having had her fair share of ups and downs with male bosses it’s now her mission to help other women up the professional ladder, hence organising the event. Her story is, in itself, hugely inspiring.
Dr Sue Black (on the left here with Natasha) talked about women in technology, and their contribution at Bletchley park in code breaking during World War II. She runs Mums with Tech – giving women opportunities to up-skill in technology whilst their kids are at school and so inspiring the next generation of girls.
As for Lauren Laverne, two years ago she and a friend, former Cosmopolitan editor Sam Baker, started an online platform, The Pool, which offers quality content and news, audio and video. She talked a lot about women’s issues and taking practical action to progress equality. As a radio host she found a lot of women who phoned in were maybe at home with kids and didn’t have an opportunity to share their experiences and potential. She effectively gave these often isolated women a voice and this generated a lot of positive feedback. Her own success belies her experience of the male attitudes women often face in the media industry. The message – women need to think bigger to achieve more. Clearly she’s come a long way from her Sunderland roots but Lauren sites her mum as an empowering role model…alongside Grace Jones.
All in all a really brilliant day. For my own bit of ‘disruption’ though – why was there a male photographer covering the event? Fortunately the videographer evened up the odds. There are a few of us techy girl photographers in Leeds so let’s have a shove up that ladder!
A shoot for Q is always good news and a quirky location makes the experience all the more interesting. My session with Oxford indie rock band Glass Animals was spent exploring the back rooms of Manchester’s Albert Hall which offered plenty of scope in terms of backdrops, perspectives and textures.
First in the corner lead Dave Bayley…
On guitar & Keys Drew MacFarlane..
On drums, Joe Seaward..
And on bass and keys, Edmund Irwin-Singer. Collectively a really nice bunch, easy to get on with and happy to spend some time getting what we needed for the six pages of stuff you can find in this months edition of the magazine.
And as you can see they brought the house down. Also in this month’s Q, an added bonus – Last Word, featuring Liam Fray and an image I shot for a previous Courteeners session.
Q magazine introduced me to Hello Operator and I photographed the York band at last year’s Leeds Festival. At the time, I mentioned my studio at Sunny Bank Mill and finally, they’ve been over to have a look. I’d done a test shoot the week before and really liked the effect so this was a great opportunity to further develop the style with my lovely B1 Profoto lights: https://profoto.com/uk/. We used a part of the mill which may be properly upgraded in time but it’s currently very industrial so perfect for a backdrop.
Also this month, and not to deprive you of some live music…Olly Murs, sold out at the Motorpoint Arena in Leeds. This shot is from the opener, after which we were herded into a small pen at the side of the stage while Olly strutted his stuff down the runway. As you can see though, he’s well used to delivering for both pit and fans.
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This month we’re at the First Direct Arena in Leeds for three levels of boy band. For the Kaiser Chiefs we couldn’t get into the pit for the usual first three songs as the starting set had a club-land, Phoenix Nights style stage extension to get things going under a “Tonite – Kaiser Chiefs” banner. This then slid back and Ricky and co re-emerged through the old school streamers and onto the main stage. All highly entertaining and we did at least get to watch the start of the performance on screen. As you can see there was no shortage of energy…
Supporting Kaiser Chiefs, Mancunians Spring King who I’ve seen before and actually really like. Drummer Tarek Musa is the main vocallist and drives the whole set along brilliantly.
I spent a night in the Gods photographing the Pet Shop Boys from a million miles away but it’s really all about the light show which was spectacular…and the glitter ball head gear..which was interesting..
Green Day at the First Direct Arena – always a sellout and always worthy of it…I could tell, even from the two songs we were allowed in for. It would have been useful to stick around for number three to get some variation in shots and clearly I would have loved to be there all night but even for two songs I was happy. The whole band put on an amazing show.
Next up in our all American rock line-up, A Day To Remember, also at the Arena and also busy. Here’s a shot of lead Jeremy McKinnon. He fired at us and we fired back…
And last but not least one my favourite bands to photograph – Avenged Sevenfold over at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield. Again, they put on a brilliant show and gave us plenty of opportunities to get some decent shots in. There’s alway a runway which helps with the posing!
Towards the end of last year two commissions from Q came through in quick succession. One was for the Courteeners who I’ve shot for the magazine before and we’d really got on well so I was looking forward to it. They were playing the First Direct Arena in Leeds which gave us a lovely cinema style context for the pictures and an excuse to chuck popcorn around. We also had to reference the Cash for Questions column they were featuring in – hence the paper. It’s a really good read with some great responses from Liam, Dan and Mike to some insightful and occasionally random questions so if you get an opportunity, have a look at the February edition.
For Slaves, I was heading to Nottingham’s Rock City and this time we were doing “The Albums that Changed my Life” so I stopped off at the recycling and scrap business in the mill where my studio’s based and purchased a few choice bits of vinyl at the princely sum of 50p each. These we proceeded to smash and then Isaac and Laurie threw them around a bit…there’s a pattern emerging here of stuff being chucked at me which is possibly dangerous but hey ho…all in a day’s work. The Slaves feature follows the Courteeners in the February Q so I’ve got a few pages in there..which is brilliant. Feels like a great way to round off my 2016 and start this year off positively.
A couple of weeks ago, I was photographing Courteeners (check my next blog!), and Sheffield-band Milburn were supporting. It’s always good to catch up with old friends and when I asked for a couple of pictures they obligingly gave me three minutes to get something in the can. Here’s the result, which the band tweeted later. https://twitter.com/traceyphoto. And it’s since become their poster image for next year’s gig at Don Valley Bowl, Friday 2nd June 2017….which is nice!
And then, onto The Human League last Saturday.
Thanks to Neil from Human League for sorting my pass for their latest gig at the Motorpoint Arena. Always good to see them on their home turf – the response from the audience is really special – and joining the band’s friends and family for the rest of the gig it was great to be a part of it.
Lighting was a bit of a challenge but I love this one of Neil in black and white.
Human League’s style has always been as distinctive as the sound..and this season Phil Oakey is rocking the leather look….
…while Sue shines in full length silver.
In support, Blancmange and again, once my work was done I got to enjoy the entire set. I have to say, I had forgotten how good a group they are, and there was a mass singalong to all the old favourites like ‘Living on the Ceiling’. All in all a cracking night out..
Synth DJ = Cool Man!