27 August 2014


The newspaper reviews have all been written, and from what I've read every single one is overwhelming positive.

I was lucky enough, with the help from a code via the official Kate Bush newsletter, to get two tickets for the opening night of her first gig in 35 years.  To call it a gig is understating things, it was a show, it was a spectacle, it was just stunning.

Before the show I was talking about what might be the opening song, and I remember saying prior that she should just go "balls out" and hit us with one of the big songs, Running or Hounds straight away.  Song two was Hounds of Love.

"I hope she can still sing" was a comment said to me by many in the months building up to the show.  Having listened to her more recent albums I knew she could, but I wasn't expecting the power in her voice.  Just brilliant.

The setlist was interesting, with the brave decision not to play anything from her first four albums. 
The show was split into two halves with Lily, Hounds of Love, Joanni, Running Up That Hill, Top of the City, King of the Mountain, And Dream of Sheep, Under Ice, Waking the Witch, Watching You Without Me, Jig of Life, Hello Earth, and The Morning Fog making up part one.  Part two was Prelude, Prologue, An Architect’s Dream, The Painter’s Link, Sunset, Aerial Tal, Somewhere in Between, Nocturn, Aerial, Among Angels and the finale Cloudbusting.

From the bits of tissue paper that were blasted at the audience were the words "'Wave after wave, each mightier than the last. Till last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep. And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged. Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame."

A week before the show Kate posted a short message on her website saying "We have purposefully chosen an intimate theatre setting rather than a large venue or stadium. It would mean a great deal to me if you would please refrain from taking photos or filming during the shows. I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iphones, ipads or cameras. I know it's a lot to ask but it would allow us to all share in the experience together.".  Her polite request turned into the strictest "no photography" rule I've ever seen, with the staff jumping on anyone who dared point a mobile phone towards the stage. In reality people were probably too scared of being thrown out to risk getting a couple of crappy mobile phone photos, and very few people even tried.  Despite easily getting a small camera inside, the only photos I have are of the stage before, at the interval, and after.  I would have loved to have been photographing the performance.  So many amazing visuals.

The venue was the Hammersmith Apollo, a venue from the outside that looks rather "meh", but inside worked to perfection.  Kate, it seems, has many celebrity fans as on the way in I saw Dave Gilmour, Frank Skinner, Marc Almond and Del Palmer.  Others saw Michael Ball and Holly Johnson and apparently there were some b-listers like Lily Allen who I wouldn't have recognised if she was sitting next to me.

After what Kate announced was her final song, even with the houselights up the audience refused to move.  For over 5 minutes nearly everyone stood cheering and clapping.  It wasn't until the stage techs appeared to start turning things off that everyone got the message.  "Kate had left the stage!".

Awesome.  Just f**king awesome!

22 August 2014

Rewind Festival - Day 2

Both days of the festival had some great acts, but for me the Sunday just pipped it.

This is the first time I've used my Olympus Micro Four Thirds mirrorless system for a big live act job, and while I had high confidence they'd be well up to the job, I wasn't quite so sure about battery life with the heavy shooting demands and 2.5k images I ended up with.

As insurance I purchased a few spare batteries, and ended up with 12 in total. As it turns out I need not have worried. The dual battery configuration in the Olympus EM-1 lasted nearly the whole of day one, and might well have seen out the day if I hadn't swapped out the batteries for the final act just to be on the safe side. I think I got around 1400 images out of 2 batteries that day. Perhaps not quite as many as my old Canon DSLR system would have got, but plenty enough to cure me of my power anxiety issues!

As before just for fun, below is how long the photographers had to shoot each of the artists.

The South - 9 minutes
Howard Jones - 17 minutes
UB40 - 13 minutes
Boomtown Rats - 13 minutes
Hazel O'Connor - 5 minutes
Hugh Cornwell - 6 minutes
Flock of Seagulls - 4 minutes
Bonnie Tyler - 11 minutes
Roland Gift - 9 minutes
Jimmy Somerville - 10 minutes
Tony Hadley - 11 minutes
Tom Bailey - 15 minutes

With my being a big Thompson Twins fan back in the day, Tom Bailey was my favourite act. Although that said, Sir Bob Geldof and his Rats easily put on the best show of the day, even if I'm not so keen on their music. A proper rock star is that Sir Bob!

Tower of London Remembers

On my way to Greenwich to see Goldfrapp I made sure to stop off at the Tower of London to see their "Remembers" display of 1000's of ceramic poppies that had been placed in the moat to remember the First World War.

The display is not even nearly finished (with probably tens of thousands more to place) but it's already bloody (pun intended) impressive.

The final total of poppies will be 888,246, one for every British casualty during the First World War.

If you can get there before 11th November, you won't regret it.

When Goldfrapp played Greenwich

A pause in posting Rewind Festival photos for a few of Goldfrapp from their concert at the Old Royal Naval College.

I may have been a very naughty boy on the evening of the concert. I may have stood next to the official press pass holding photographers and pretended I was one of them. This may have happened. I may also have been asked to stop talking by someone listening to the concert (normally one of my pet hates, so I did, stop that is). I also may have been asked to stop shooting twice by security. The second time I did actually stop because I really did want to see the rest of the gig... which was by all accounts rather good indeed.

I'm slowly working my way through photographing my favourite singers, and it's rather awesome to be able to do so... Emiliana Torrini and Tom Bailey in the last few months alone. It would be nice to thing I could add Kate Bush to the list, but she seems rather camera shy, so that seems unlikely.

Never before at a concert have I seen the queue for tea and coffee longer than the one for beer. It probably had something to do with the fact that it was rather chilly.

This was the first outdoor gig I've been to in London, and it was quite something listening to the sounds of Goldfrapp echoing (in a good way) around the 300 year old buildings of the Naval College, while looking out on Canary Wharf across the river.

As you'll be able to see from the photos, the photography pit was actually about 40 rows back behind the front block of seating. This made shooting a bit of a challenge. For the close up shots of Allison I was using the long end of a 300mm lens, at 3200 iso and struggling to get shutter speeds faster than 1/50 second (it's a very slow lens, f/6.7 wide open at 300mm. It's at times like this when I realise the true value of the Olympus image stabilisation system and just how damn good it really is.

Hardly the greatest set of concert photos ever, but given the situation, I'm rather happy with them.

A shout out to the special ladies I met on the evening, especially to the one who bought me tea and cake!

20 August 2014

Rewind Festival - Day 1

Last weekend was my first ever visit to the Rewind Festival at Henley.  I've been trying to get a press pass to this event for the last few years, and finally came good this year.

I'll be posting some more blog posts on certain acts a bit later, but for now one photo of each artist from both days of the festival.  And what a festival it was.  The weather gods were on our side, and despite a downpour around Sunday lunchtime we couldn't have really hoped for better.

For those who don't know how live music photography works, you normally get the first three songs to get your photos, then you're out.  Normally this means you'd have 10/15 minutes to shoot and you'd be on your way home.  Of course when there are 12 acts on throughout the day things work a bit differently, and it makes for a rather long, although rather awesome day.

I've collected some statistics from both days based on the times I took the first and last shots of each act.   Here's how long I got to photographer each act.

From The Jam - 10 minutes
Nick Heyward - 9 minutes
Mike + The Mechanics - 15 minutes
Level 42 - 15 minutes
Johnny Hates Jazz - 7 minutes
Wang Chung - 8 minutes
Weather Girls - 7 minutes
Jason Donovan - 11 minutes
Sister Sledge - 26 minutes
Marc Almond - 13 minutes
Rick Astley - 10 minutes
Holly Johnson - 11 minutes