It’s not often we get a world premiere in my home town but last week the cinema circus came to town for the launch of Funny Cow. I got a call inviting me down to the Showroom Cinema to photograph the event. It was more low-key cool than red carpet glamour but all the stars had turned out for the night, including lead Maxine Peak and screenplay writer Tony Pitts. Tony is, himself a ‘made in Sheffield’ talent, as is Richard Hawley, who wrote the music and performed in Funny Cow. Other well-known faces joining the party, Corinne Bailey Rae who plays Coffee in the film and Manchester’s finest, Johnny Marr. Sadly, I couldn’t stay for the film or the after-show as I had to disappear to tag and turn around the pictures ready for syndication. I have to say though, they were a lovely bunch, it was a privilege to be there and an added bonus to catch up with Johnny Marr. I really hope the film does well – so far the reviews are looking good…
Alternative rock band Thirty Seconds to Mars consists of Jared Leto, Shannon Leto, and Tom Miličević. This month, the Thirty Seconds to Mars tour bus rolled into a packed Manchester Arena just days before the release of latest album America.
Thanks to some accidentally divulged, inside info, our pit gang of four girls and two guys (that makes a change…perhaps it’s the Jared effect!) managed to wangle coverage of the entire gig – which was brilliant. I haven’t photographed them before and visually they put on a great show but it’s difficult to shoot because of the highly theatrical staging and lighting. Also Jared runs around like a maniac. Fortunately, as part of the show, Jared invites members of the audience to come up on stage and somehow I ended up there as well. Unlike everyone else, I did not take the opportunity to send a political tweet from the Thirty Seconds to Mars personal account, but I did get some decent different shots in. All in all – a great night.
Last time I photographed Morrissey was more than a decade ago at Sheffield City Hall. On this occasion we’ve upscaled to Arena level so clearly there’s no sign of a waning in popularity of the Smiths one-time frontman.
This was my first visit to Glasgow’s SSE Hydro and honestly I was impressed. It’s a lovely building and despite the crowds there was no queueing. You do have to pick up your pass from the building opposite but other than that it was a smooth route in and inside they layout’s good with plenty of space to move around. For this particular gig we were faced with one or two challenges – see below for the first one! We had a clear demarkation line and a fairly tight squeeze in the pit, plus we had to pick one side or the other for our view up to the 7 foot stage.
That being said, it was a really enjoyable session. Morrissey was his usual flamboyant self, the light was great, the diehard Morrissey lookalikes were out in force and everyone was in a really good mood. As I was shooting for Q, I got to be there for the whole gig, photographing from different vantage points. And as a grand finale, Morrissey whipped his shirt off as he made a swift exit. Highly entertaining and I got some great pictures so definitely well worth the trip up North.
Putting together a collection of work for a book is always an interesting exercise. For the first A3 one I produced, I focussed mainly on music and even with 60 pages to play with I struggled to narrow it down to a final selection. It’s great to have your best pictures from 10 years in one place and in print but an A3 hardback book is not the most portable portfolio to cart around. So…a couple of years on, I’m now finalising an A5 version. I’m keeping the cover, designed by Rob O’Connor at Stylorouge, but shifting the main focus to my favourite commercial and editorial work. With only 30 pages to play with it has been even harder to make those editorial decisions. Blondie have still found their way in there though! Here are a couple more shots that have made the final cut.
This month I’ve also been digging through my archive to find some shots of the Fall’s legendary frontman Mark E Smith who died last month. This picture was taken back in the 90’s in the days of film; the venue is now also sadly departed. RIP Mark E. Smith.
Yes, I know we’re already well into 2018 but before I turn my back on 2017 I’ve got one or two fairly significant loose ends to tidy up…starting with Kasabian at Leeds Arena. Great lighting for this one so the only handicaps were the amount of movement and energy on stage and plenty of jostling for position in the pit. Possibly the one led to the other…all things considered though I’m happy with the shots.
Next up we’re hopping over to a more intimate encounter with Robert Plant at Sheffield City Hall. As you can imagine, with support from Seth Lakeman the show was sold out well in advance and Percy did not disappoint. Sadly the same can’t be said for the lighting here which came in a blanket of blue and red which kind of flattened everything on stage. Opting for black and white in post production really helped to lift the depth and contrast in the images.
And finally, arriving at Leeds Arena with the inevitable swagger and plenty of Oasis classics in the set list, Liam Gallagher. Great to be there for the first leg of his latest tour.
It’s quite nice to arrive at a job and get a cuppa courtesy of Johnny Marr. For the record it was a very good brew! We were at Johnny’s studio, in a former factory on the outskirts of his home town. Q were featuring him ‘In the Studio’ for the January magazine; I was there to do the pictures alongside writer Tom Doyle. We were scheduled for an hour’s shoot but ended up there for most of the afternoon, listening to Johnny’s new stuff – a complete privilage really. He’s as busy as ever working on this third solo album; currently up to song 17 so he’s got some decisions to make on what will make the cut.
As for the shoot, well Johnny was easy to photograph and he had lots of ideas, most of which were what I already had in mind which was great. We were after two or three shots and ended up with five so if you want to see what made the cut for me and for Q take a look at the magazine – out now!
It’s been a few years since I photographed Alice Cooper but his latest appearance at Leeds Arena was just as spectacular as ever. We all turned up early hoping to photograph the Tubes in support but sadly, for some reason that was a no go. However, we did get four songs of the main show. There was also an added bonus later, when we were invited back to the pit for a guest spot from the original band. Alice Cooper has lost none of his on-stage charisma and showmanship, and from the energy levels up there you’d never guess he’s now pushing 70.
‘Be my Frankenstein’ was accompanied by someone on stilts wearing a massive Frankenstein head. At one point they wheeled a Guillotine on and faked him having his head cut off. The head was then held up for the crowd while the rest of his body was still kneeling there. Just brilliant and, I guess, exactly why he can still attract huge audiences. The 13,000 fans crammed into the arena were certainly not disappointed and honestly, neither was I. I went home with some Alice Cooper currency and his whip, which he literally threw straight at me. A fan leapt over the barrier and begged me to hand it over. But before I could make up my mind security stepped in and hauled him off. I normally like to go home with a plectrum but hey, I’ll settle for Alice Cooper’s whip!!
London Grammar at Leeds O2 this week and I was looking forward to it. I wasn’t quite sure where we’d be photographing – could have been up in the balcony or next to the sound desk – so I took my long lens and that turned out to be a good move. We were allowed in the pit but with a white line cordoning us off into a quarter-end of the usual space. With four of us in there it was a good job we all got on! We just about managed to work around each other but the long lens made life a lot easier. The next, potential obstacle was the piano that appeared on stage and we started to panic that if London Grammar lead Hannah Reid actually sat down at it we’d be completely stuffed. Fortunately, the piano was closely followed by a mic stand so panic over…for now.. Unfortunately, for the first song Hannah was lit entirely in red…no decent shot opportunities. Strike one. As the second song got going, a strong drum beat kicked in and she turned to face the music with her back to the pit..another epic fail. Strike two. Finally, last chance, song three, she turned round in decent light and we nailed it. We left the pit very grateful and breathing a massive sigh of relief. In short you’re lucky you’ve got any pictures to look at here. But I have to say – what an amazing sound and what a fantastic voice. So thank you London Grammar – not the most relaxing gig but well worth the effort and I would definitely do it again.
Leeds Festival 2017 and this year I was working for Festival Republic who run the whole show. It was great being part of the team; genuinely nice people – accommodating, co-operative, supportive. Everyone got on well and it was just a really positive experience. We all had our own, set schedule but were asked if there were any bands we particularly fancied and I got everyone I wanted bar one…or two if you count Queens Of The Stone Age. Sadly I missed the fact that QOTSA were on the NME stage – it was in fact a secret gig. However, all was not lost, I rocked up anyway and they managed to squeeze me into the pit for some mid range shots of the crowd and the band, so between us we captured all angles.
As it turned out I was then at the right end of the festival for my next scheduled event – Muncie Girls on the Lock-up stage where we had a bit more freedom in terms of stage access and time. I hadn’t seen this band before but they delivered a pretty good set and I stuck around ready for another, effectively secret gig from ‘The Pretty Boys’ who turned out to be Bedfordshire band Don Broco. The tent was packed by the time they came on, they got a brilliant response and I got some great shots from the side and the back of the stage.
As you can see, the sun was shining and everyone at the main stage was having an amazing Leeds Fest.
Punk band Counterfeit weren’t on my list but I managed to grab some bonus shots there and they were hugely entertaining, getting in amongst the crowd. I left just as things were getting a little bit too crazy…
Next up, DJ SHY FX where I headed to the back first to capture the light show and the R1 dance tent crowd. Again, brilliant vibe and energy.
And winding up day two the always amazing Kasabian on the main stage, performing to a packed crowd.
Day three, and the sun was still shining, hotter than ever. Pretty Reckless was first up for me on the main stage, a cool US rock band fronted by former actress and model Taylor Momsen.
Next up, At the Drive In and lead Cedric Bixler seemed more keen on jumping around and wrecking the joint than facing his audience. No idea if this is just standard band behaviour but the latest album is called Accelerate Cognitive Dissonance. They were hugely entertaining – really enjoyed it.
Nu metal band Korn I’ve seen many times and they’re always great. I got up in the tower to capture this shot but I also really like the one of Brian ‘Head’ Welch below from the pit (not sure if he’s any relation – how cool would that be?!).
I wasn’t down to do Major Lazer but swapped so we could get the cover we needed and I was really happy to be there as the sun went down. Crowd-surf zorbing and loads of freebies chucked in. Perfect really.
Then I was off to see the lovely Glass Animals who I know pretty well, having shot them for a Q feature earlier this year. I was given side of stage so I had a quick chat to the tour manager and we worked out where I could go – it’s always useful to have inside info on when someone’s going to jump on the drum kit. In the end I stayed for the whole set and went round afterwards to say hello. They were as friendly as ever and enjoying their Leeds experience. They’re nominated for the Mercury Music prize and then off on tour again. Life is good.
And so to finish – a good old Sheffield band, While She Sleeps on the Lock up stage. I didn’t quite get the access I wanted on this one but we still got some decent shots in. Not exactly ending on a high, but all round another great Leeds Festival made all the better for the team experience. Big thanks to Festival Republic and check out more images at http://photos.leedsfestival.com/2017/gallery/
Just back from my second Bloodstock Open Air which was really great. Good to see some familiar faces and it’s a fantastic festival to work – really relaxed. Plus this year was a welly free weekend and no rain is always a bonus! Weekend tickets were completely sold out but people could still turn up for a day pass to see their best metal band. There’s never any trouble and always plenty of theatrical dressing up, on stage and in the crowd. For performance and showmanship I’d say Dani Filth from Devilment did the job. I got some great shots of him and the rest of the band.
I was a fan of Testament in the late 80s and early 90s, and Chuck Billy is still going strong, as is guitarist Alex Scolnick who has been back and forth with the band over the years, in between all kinds of other stuff, including jazz and funk..
Canadian band Annihilator are always worth a look. Lead and founder Jeff Waters is sponsored by Epiphone who were also on site at the festival, which gave me an opportunity to go and meet the team. I tried out a Jack Cassidy bass, in front of people which was a bit a scary…especially when Tom and Olly said they’d recorded me…Stray Cat Strut not very Bloodstock. Anyhow moving on – gorgeous instrument. I want that one!
Municipal Waste – what a great name! I was pretty fortunate to get in to this gig as the list was limited due to the extensive crowd surfing that goes along with the band. After our three songs it went mental in there but here are the shots. So pleased to have been on that list.
Headlining Saturday – Ghost. Always good to photograph but the pyros are enough to give you a heart attack. There’s usually a lot more smoke but thankfully lovely lighting here and a great opportunity to capture the theatre of the visuals and costumes; really entertaining and performance to match. The musicianship is fantastic. So this rounds off my Bloodstock 2017. Sadly, I missed Sunday due to other work commitments but roll on next year..which has already announced French band Gojira who are amazing and Nightwish from Finland, who I’ve worked with in the past photographing Kai Hahto for Drummer magazine. It’s going to be Metaltastic…