10 November 2015

Joe Satriani at the Portsmouth Guildhall

Before going into the Joe Satriani concert I didn't know anything other than what Joe looked like and that he was clearly a very popular musician (2.8 million likes on Facebook).  Like so many of the other recent gigs I've photographed I hadn't heard any of Joe's music before.

First though, a little rant about the appallingly high parking prices in Portsmouth.  Arriving at 5pm (food at a pub before the gig), and leaving at around 11pm, the parking cost would have been £12, which to me is simply taking the piss.  It's enough to make me consider not going to any more gigs in Portsmouth.  I get that they want you to leave your car at home, but travelling back home at around 11pm either means leaving the gig half an hour early, or waiting around half an hour after and then not arriving back into Southampton until half past midnight, by which time there would of course be no buses to take you home.  Portsmouth City Council, you should be trying to promote your city and get people to come in.  Your parking pricing policy is doing the opposite.  Stop it.

As a venue I actually quite like Portsmouth Guildhall.  There was no queue, the ticket desk was easily accessible, the sound is actually quite good, there are lots of ways into the auditorium, all of the seats are reasonably cost to the stage, there are a couple of decent sized bars (with lots of seats), and they only charge £1.20 for a cup of tea.

The concert was all seating, which means no pit, which means shooting from the sides or the back.  Not ideal, but with only two other photographers to contend with, really quite workable.

Stage lighting was, as you'd expect for a big name artist, pretty damn good.  No lighting dead-spots as I've seen at a few smaller venues of late.  Clearly artist and lighting technician understand each other.  Having a decent budget probably also helps.

This is the first instrumental concert I've ever been to (I'm not sure you can count the garbled few verses in one of the encore songs), which of course was a surprise to me not knowing Joe's music.  However with Joe's ability to make his guitars sing, three other most excellent musicians with him on stage, the excellent lighting, and a sound system that nearly made my ears bleed.  It all equalled a hell of a show.

At times I've been moved emotionally by music, but this time I was moved physically by it.  By that I mean the bass was turned up to 11 and even sitting in the back row as I was after the first three songs, I still managed to "feel" it.  Earplugs at least for me were essential for the whole gig - health and safety levels thrown out of the window with the volume turned up to insanely loud.

Projected onto the screens at the back of the stage were several excellent timelapse videos.  My favourite, of one of my very favourite places on earth, was of Monument Valley.  It made me want to go back there.  Road trip anyone?

One of the advantages of the Olympus OM-D is the ability to use the articulating screen to take photos.  Which is just what I sneakily did through the latter stages of the gig - getting some of my favourite images as a result.

All images taken with the Olympus OM-D EM-1 with 40-150 f2.8 lens (and a few with the 1.4x converter)

Thank you for an excellent evening of music Joe!

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