24 March 2016

Joe Bonamassa at the Bournemouth BIC

Rewind around six months and I was driving into Bournemouth a few hours before the Joe Bonamassa gig only to see a big sign at the side of the road clearly saying "Joe Bonamassa concert tonight cancelled".

"Bugger!" was my only printable blog comment.

Back to the present day and the time had come for the rescheduled gig.

The concert had come on the back of a long weekend of Photo Experience Days in Durdle Door and Corfe Castle, and all I really wanted to do was go home and put my feet up for the evening.

Attached to my photo pass was a bit of paper with the "rules" for the photography of Joe.  The normal first three songs (which thankfully added up to nearly 25 minutes of music), and then some other stuff...  Essentially translated it meant I'd be shooting from the back or the sides.


I'd packed my longest lens, the Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8, which combined with the x1.4 extender would give me a full frame focal length of 420mm @ f/4.  Less than ideal.

Security were as all good security are, actually quite friendly and helpful.  The head of security originally said I'd have to shoot from the sides about 15 rows back.

Bugger indeed.

However he then came back with the suggestion of shooting from the tunnels leading into the hall.  Much better, at least I'd be right in front of the stage, or be it rather a long way back.

After the first 3 songs, I made my way to the exit.  No staying for the whole gig as I'd been able to do for Duran Duran last year.  Which, was actually just fine.  I was knackered, had shed loads of photos to sort through once arriving home, and master of his craft as Joe clearly is, it wasn't really my kind of thing.

15 March 2016

Photographing Afro Celt Sound System

I've been a fan of Afro Celt Sound System for at least 15 years, so when I found out they were doing a gig in London, I got in touch to see if they might be kind enough to give me a photo pass.  Normally with more popular musicians you have to go through their management or promoter, but as I had band founder Simon Emmerson on my Facebook friends list I decided to go direct.

On the night I found out that I was the only photographer, so no pressure then...  With a little bit of help from the bands PR person, I was able to get the "okay" from Simon to shoot the whole gig and not just the first three songs as would normally be the case.

For those who aren't familiar with their music, they play a fusion of Irish and Western African music.  The band originally came to my attention because of their collaboration with my favourite artist, Peter Gabriel who sang on their song "When You're Falling". 

This was the first time I'd seen them in concert and I had the best damn seat in house!

As always I'll let others more qualified talk about the music, but for me it was a fantastic performance, with so much energy on stage, that I hope my photos capture at least a tiny fraction of.

Sadly I wasn't able to meet any of the band, as I had to rush off after the gig to catch a train back to Southampton.  I've since befriended most of them on Facebook, and from what I can tell from band and fans alike, the reception to my images as been rather good.

Picking just 13 favourites for this blog out of the 100+ of keepers from the evening was a challenge.

I'm very much hoping this is the first of many times I'll be able to work with ACSS.

05 March 2016

Cloudbusting - a Kate Bush tribute band

The Cloudbusting gig at the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne Minster had been in my diary for what seemed like ages and about a week before I thought I'd get in touch with the band to see if they might be kind enough to give me a photo pass for the evening.  I was in luck, they did!

The Tivoli is a small 500 seater theatre that is run as a charity and staffed mostly by retiree  volunteers.  The natives were very friendly indeed, and a cup of tea was available in the coffee shop attached to the theatre.    This, combined with being able to get "rock star" parking directly opposite the main doors was an excellent start to the evening.

I met my contact from the band, Michael (their keyboardist).  We had a bit of a chat about the Kate Bush concerts a year and a bit ago.

Just like most of the recent bands I've been to photograph, I hadn't listened to any of their music before the gig, but the one different being that I know the music of Kate Bush really rather well, so I knew roughly what to expect.

What I wasn't expecting though was just how damn good they were.   While I'm no musician, the arrangements of quite a few of Kate's songs seem less than simple, and the band were brave enough to tackle some of her more complex tunes.

They played The Ninth Wave (featuring a brilliant version of Jig of Life), and also Sunset from a Sky of Honey (one of my favourite songs).  As expected there were the big Hounds of Love hits, but also some of the early stuff that Kate didn't touch on during her concerts, Wow, Babooshka, Breathing, James & The Cold Gun and finishing up with Wuthering Heights - they were all quite brilliantly played.  Oh and I nearly forgot they also did Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up", a song which I actually saw Pete and Kate perform live at my very first concert way back in the 1980's....

After the gig I got to meet "Kate", aka Mandy Watson, who was really quite exceptionally brilliant, nailing every note and singing to perfection.

Although I had freedom to go anywhere in the venue, and no three song limit, for most of the time I sat at the front, listening, singing along, tapping my feet, and taking the occasional photograph.

Other than the occasional wedding band, Cloudbusting are the first tribute band I've been to see, and if you're even slightly into Kate's music, be sure to check them out.  You won't regret it.