Since reading "Yes Man" since years ago, if someone offers me an opportunity that's at all possible / practical for me to do, I'll take it.
So when a few days earlier an email arrived asking if I'd like a photo pass for a gig in Southampton later that week, I said yes.
I had no idea who Jarad James Nichols was other than he played blues rock and by all accounts was rather bloody good at it.
The venue was "The Hobbit". A somewhat famous pub in Southampton for its live music scene. In 45 years of living in Southampton I'd never once been there.
The room was small, probably the smallest I've ever seen. Even wedding bands have a larger stage than this to work with. That said, I kinda like the small gigs as you normally get to meet the artists before. Jarad was very quick to introduce himself. He came across as a very nice guy. The normal rule for concert photography is first three songs and you're out. Jarad didn't mind if I kept shooting, which takes the pressure off.
What's a word for beyond awful? Whatever you come up with, the lighting was substantially worse than that. It was dark, it was uneven, and it was mostly red. Could they have made it any worse if they'd tried?
The band were American, and had never had fish and chips before, so they were taken out to eat after the soundcheck. Over an hour later they still hadn't returned. Has anyone seen the band? No, oh.... Bugger.
Blues rock isn't really what I'd listen to at home, but I thoroughly enjoyed the music on the night. It was a top performance and I stayed until the end.
After the show I heard an old school musician talking to Jarad, respectfully saying that he was too good for this venue. I couldn't help but agree. The audience had been the worst I've ever experienced - low on numbers is one thing, but talking loudly with your friends, that's just fucking disrespectful to the artist.
If there is any justice in this world, Jarad should go on to be a big name, and I hope one day to photograph him on a "proper" stage.