U2: 3Arena by Aaron Corr

Here was a show and a band I was really looking forward to shooting. I saw their last tour for Innocence & Experience in the 3Arena and it was a great show. I remember seeing great photos from those show my peers, and these were what I had in mind when my opportunity came up. Let’s see what Bono and the boys give me to play with. They had very specific directions for where you had to be for certain songs throughout the show. In my mind this meant the optimal angle to shoot from for how they want to be represented, and the lights should be fantastic.

This was not the case unfortunately.

The first song to shoot was the third in the set, I Will Follow. I got to watch the first two songs from the red zone, which fans pay a couple of hundred Euros for the privilege. During the second song, Bono asked the crowd for some light, so they shone their phone’s torchlight throughout the song. The band took to the stage while Bono remained on the cage platform dividing the crowd. He was facing the thousands of fans, a starry background and it looked amazing. But I couldn’t raise my camera to capture it. My fellow photographers on the night looked at each other, sickened to know what a great shot was being missed out.

Bono came back to the main stage to join The Edge, Adam and Larry and kick in to I Will Follow. Camera were drawn and we got to shoot at the same level as everyone else, fans raised their hands in the air and I did my best to try get above this for clear shots and some with them for an “in the thick of it” effect. Some good moments were ruined by a stray hand, covering a kicking Bono in action. The lights were shining directly down on the crowns of their heads, making their faces be in shadow for the song. These pictures are obviously the better portion of the set, some I’m happy with, some are just tricky. The Edge was so far away from us that he couldn’t be given focus during it, and Larry Mullins was obscured by drum stands from where I stood. This was the closest I was going to get, and I was warned by a photographer who shot the night before, that it only got worse.

Mid set we made our way to an aisle to the right of the arena and set up a fold out step to get an extra bit of height over the crowd. It had very limited effect. We were not allowed to move around due to fire wardens directions. The last row of people were mostly sat on their chairs in front of me to give them extra height to see the show. This removed any possibility to take an arena wide shot of all fans surrounding the band. I had to snap these three songs between heads, arms and hands again. The lighting was poor to shoot in from this distance. The max zoom I had was on my 70-200mm. Bono either was in shadow or had his back to us, facing the other side of the arena. There aren’t many shots I feel happy to show off when saying “I shot U2!!”

Later in the second half of the show, we were ushered back into the arena to shoot New Years Day, as the band performed in from of a European Union flag. We were more centred than the mid gig part of the shoot, but again the lights were not great from that distance, and there was still people stood in front of us which affected how shots were taken. Below is an example of how far away I was shooting from. Once again, no picture from this part of the set makes me feel proud.

The band put on a hell of a show from what I saw between being ushered in and out of the arena, but overall I am a little disappointed by the photos.

Boy Pablo: Button Factory by Aaron Corr

I headed to catch Boy Pablo for GoldenPlec on a Bank Holiday Sunday befoer Halloween. I planned to stay for just the three songs as I was tired but the songs were short, catchy and with their penchant to throwing a few pop hits in between to get the crowd going further, I figured I should stay. It was a fun gig and I was surprised by the fandom already on display. I’d never heard of the guy a week previous.

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Julian Casablancas & The Voidz: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

I was surprised to get a photopass for this show, purely because I figured the man himself wouldn’t be too fond of press at shows. When I got the pass I thought to myself “the lights will be shite”, and sure enough, they were.

 Promiseland

Promiseland

Support came from Promiseland, a Tasmanian devil onstage, who couldn’t keep still between running to his decks/samplers and jumping off stage and into the crowd. He came on twenty minutes later than expected. The lights were brutal and the constant movement didn’t help. The most still he was through the shoot was during this shot as he stretched his back on stage.

Then we get to Julian Casablancas and the Voidz, half an hour later than listed time and just as in the dark as Promiseland. Julian takes to the stage and sits on the drum riser, head in hand for a moment before he began to sing. Within a minute he comes to sit at the front of the stage to face, or not face the crowd. While the stage is lit bad, he was completely in the dark and the lighting guy showed no interest in fixing that.

Myself and fellow GoldenPlec photographer, Colm Kelly were the only two photographers in the pit and were at either side of Casablanas, facing the same struggles. The camera couldn’t focus because it was so dark. I’d switch to manual focus and it still wouldn’t shoot. I swapped lens to a f1.8 50mm and still it struggled to find a focus point. The only hope was catching him while people in the audience snapped him with their phones. Never more so was I happy that people at a gig kept their flash on. This is the only reason I’ve anything usable from the show.

His guitarist wore clown make up and even he was constantly in bad lighting. The below shot may look like things weren’t as bad as I’m making out but this was the best I got in the bunch. He would also veer too far forward on the stage away from whatever light there was and I struggled to get him in any action shots, particularly while side by side with the second guitarist.

Overall it felt like a waste of time but if you’re going to have a shit shooting experience it may as well be with someone of note. I can’t call it the worst shoot I’ve ever done as the audience saved some shots. Band’s like Beach House still hold that honour.

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David Byrne: 3 Arena by Aaron Corr

This will not only go down as one of the best gigs of the year, but on of the best gigs 'I’ve ever been to. As a life long fan of Talking Heads it was a delight to finally see, and photograph David Byrn in the 3Arena for The Thin Air.

I got to shoot the show from the left and right entrance points on the ground floor. This meant having to avoid all the people coming in with their pints to get to their seats, getting in the way of shots. But this didn’t matter. The lights were solid and perfect for shooting, especially at long range. There was barely any photos deleted from this set, they were all so sharp and lit well.

David started on stage with a table and a brain for the first song. I shot from the left side for this and the second song before legging it over to the right hand side for the third song, I Zimbra. When I was done shooting the band began to play Slippery People and I rushed to get my camera lenses detached and packed away so I could run back to my seat and enjoy the full song on time. The show was a joy to watch from start to finish and I want to see it all over again. Let’s see if it goes to Broadway like the stories suggest.

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First Aid Kit: Olympia Theatre by Aaron Corr

This is the second time I’ve shot First Aid Kit in the Olympia Theatre, this occasion was for The Thin Air. Opening up for the band were The Staves, who I had also shot previously in Whelans. First Aid Kit had a curtain covering most of the stage, so the Stave sisters were very much set up towards the front of the stage. With the height of the Olympia stage it very much felt like most vantage points led to shooting ‘up the nose’ as they say, which isn’t the best angle or flattering. Combine this with the mic stands and equipment they had set up for sampling their vocals, the angles were narrow and tricky and I can’t say there is a photo I particularly like from this set.

 The Staves

The Staves

First Aid Kit’s set I thought would be a better shoot. The hindrance was the colours used on stage, which can be a frustration when editing, particularly when they are used as low light while the Soderberg sister’s hang towards the back of the stage for a portion of the first song. They are a great band to shoot but if I was to compare, my first experience with them in the Olympia was a better experience.

The other frustration during their set was that they were lit well for a good portion of the set but the lights that were lighting them from front on were causing lots of microphone shadow on their faces, as seen of the next photo of Klara. I ended up focusing on her less because her mouth and chin were lost in the photos as she stood singing. Johanna sang less during those songs and therefore was standing back a little more, making her a better performer to photograph.

Their set was good and their singing perfect, however I did prefer their set and energy on stage at All Together Now in the summer. Their latest album is one of my favourite albums of the year.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

Pavement’s main man Stephen Malkmus returned to Dublin with his band, The Jicks, in support of their new album, Sparkle Hard. I covered the show for The Thin Air and got in early to catch Tandem Felix for my first time.

 Tandem Felix

Tandem Felix

My first portrait shoot after I moved to Dublin was with David Tapley of Tandem Felix, for Plec Picks 2014, & Éna Brennan, aka Dowry, is also in the band and featured in a shoot of mine from the past year, yet I’d never got around to catching them live. They were great too, I can finally say!

I enjoyed shooting Stephen Malkmus. The lights were ok, nothing amazing or bad. It wasn’t a busy pit on the night, and the venue wasn’t sold out which surprised me for a Friday night. Those who missed out missed the Pavement ‘covers’ he threw in at the encore which made everyone’s night.

Negative Gemini: The Grand Social by Aaron Corr

Straight off the back of my long overdue holiday, GoldenPlec offered me two assignment for the day I returned. No rest for the wicked. Shooting this show was the second of the two shoots I had that day, and boy was it a challenge!

The Grand Social can be tricky to shoot in sometimes due to the lighting and this was definitely one of those cases. Lindsey French, aka Negative Gemini, took to the dark stage and leaped around in a black coat and tinkered with her samplers and keyboard to either side of the stage. A screen projected images along to her songs but this largely created a large white light when trying to expose for Lindsey in the dark corners. Focusing was tricky on it’s own, never mind keeping the shot from blurring due to long exposures combined with the high ISO in use.

After the show I approached Lindsey to ask if I could grab a quick portrait with her. With the video projector still in use on the stage I decided to use that and light her with it. I took five quick snaps and said my goodbyes. I love the psychedelic nature of how they turned out.

Check out her interview with GP and review of the show. Click any image for the full gallery.

Julien Baker: Vicar Street by Aaron Corr

GoldenPlec sent me to shoot the Julien Baker show in Vicar Street. They had featured her quite a bit in advance, with an interview on the site ahead of the show. I didn’t manage to listen to her much but I came out captivated by her songs, her voice and her power on stage.

 Becca Mancari

Becca Mancari

Support came from Nashville’s Becca Mancari. She was to be with another guitarist but had to go solo due to a Ryanair issue. She was funny and charming on stage, and the lights were perfect for capturing her performing.

 Becca Mancari

Becca Mancari

 Julien Baker

Julien Baker

There’s not much I can say about Julien Baker’s performance that hasn’t been said in the GoldenPlec review. What I can say was that, much like the support, the lighting conditions were excellent and the spotlights in particular adding to the effect. So much so I made sure to take more wider shots to incorporate them highlighting her on stage. The only distraction was the keyboard set up which got in the way when shooting from the left side. Not a big deal in the overall scale of things. It was a amazing performance by an artist I look forward to hearing a lot more from.

Click any photo or here for full gallery.